Sunday, July 15, 2012

In Memory of Casey, 1995-2012

This last week, I sent my beloved Casey to Doggie Heaven after sudden illness struck her late Monday evening. The most difficult decision one has to make, I sent her Home, giving her peace and with gratitude for having given me sixteen wonderful years of companionship.

In 1995, Casey picked me at the humane shelter in Lexington, Kentucky. My husband and I already picked a dog to bring home but the entire time we pondered our choice, this one noisy little fluff pup yipped non-stop at us. I finally turned my attention to this little black fuzz ball of perseverance with white feet. Picking her out of her fenced pen, I set her down at our feet and she immediately picked up where she left off in her canine oration, all the while “herding” us. She would not be ignored or left behind. Her personality oozed and my heart succumbed, and this puppy got her wish.

Casey's high energy wore us out; it was boundless. We'd roll a tennis ball across the expanse of a hardwood floor with Casey in hot pursuit hardly breaking a sweat. Casey latched onto shoe laces while you walked across the room with all the confidence she was bringing us down. After two weeks, we decided Casey needed a playmate and entered Belle who at first seemed put off but eventually warmed up. Thus, the beginning of Casey and Belle's Big Adventure.

Casey loved playing fetch, like most dogs do, especially snowballs which crumbled under her tyrannous capture. She loved the outdoors, and ravaged the open spaces of a park or my parents' yard, shifting into a full throttle run two or three times in a wide circle before coming to a halt. If you tried to approach her, off she'd go again in the opposite direction with a “catch me if you can” smirk on her pretty face.

Casey's smarts at times left me feeling like she was the pet owner. One day, Casey gave a quiet throaty snort of a woof. I dismissed it thinking she was playing since it didn't indicate urgency. After several more vocalizations which eventually grew in volume and with insistence, she'd release a full out bark. I got up to see what was troubling her. Casey stood by her nearly empty water bowl, looking at me, then looking at the bowl, then me again. Despite her attending puppy kindergarten training, sometimes it was unclear who trained whom.

Through most of her years, many thought Casey a puppy. Her puppy energy turned into enthusiasm and a love of life which intensified upon my arrival home at the end of the day or upon meeting someone new. She knew no strangers, and welcomed everyone with complete abandoned. I joked she was a “belly rub” whore because she'd “belly up” with open invitation to anyone she met. Casey loved talking to you, and upon meeting someone she had lots to say.

A fun-loving dog with more personality than I've known in a dog, Casey was not without her mischief. Over the years, she transformed dozens of pairs of underwear into crotchless panties; and she became known around the house as the Kleenex Bandit. Like pigs hunting truffles in the woods, Casey rooted used Kleenexes out of nowhere, leaving me wondering where she found them. Casey was the best vacuum cleaner, “Johnny on the spot” to clean up my oopsies in the kitchen. Unfortunately, she'd pick things up on walks that weren't so good. Once on a walk when she was a puppy, I looked down to see a partially smoked cigarette hanging out of the side of her mouth like it was nobody's business!

Casey shadowed me everywhere. During cleaning frenzies, she'd follow me around from one room to another, her tags jingling as she kept up, until she tired and settled down in one central location to more easily supervise the activity. Casey didn't like being left out of anything. She loved car rides, despite having motion sickness. We ran errands together and traveled across the country many times over the years.

Casey's loyalty was humbling. Our sixteen years together consisted of countless life transitions and moves. When heartache visited, Belle licked the tears from my face, propping her head on my leg with concern. Casey simply sat next to me, holding space in support; and I'm not naïve, the Kleenex Bandit also knew opportunity when she saw it! A pet psychic once told me Casey had been with me in another life, and again with me in this life to see me through all these changes, and absorb negative energy of my heartache and upset within them. I know Casey hugs were better than any stuffed animal I ever had.

Over the last year I watched my“Quesadilla” succumb to the physical demands of old age as her eyesight and hearing deteriorated, and her hips weaken to shakiness after walks. She slept more than she moved round, and life became simply existence, not living. When she fell ill, I knew it was time. Intuitively, I've known this year would be our last together, but not so soon. Not this soon.

After sixteen years of unconditional love and support from two companions who were like four-legged children, I am alone and lost. My daily routine of walking Casey every morning and twice in the evening, feeding her, looking for her at every turn leaves me out of sorts. Casey offered such comfort upon Belle's transition, but with Casey gone, I have only myself to see me through this latest transition. I take comfort in God's love, and in my faith that she's in God's good care now; and that Casey is running full throttle in the open spaces of the yard in Doggie Heaven.

Blogger's Note: I wish to thank the many people who graced Casey and Belle's lives over these last sixteen years in support of them and me: Aleisha Gravit, Mike Petock, Ryan Hansen, Jane Stoddard, Ellen Kempf of Woofer's and Whiskers, Dr. Lutton, Newburgh vet, Viona Brink, Barb Van Horn, Kim Lively, and my mom and dad.