Casey, Kasey, or KC

To mom she was Caser; to Nathan (a family friend) she was “KC, in the Moor-ning!”; to dad she was KC.

I guess it doesn’t really matter how you spell her name. I think each of us spelled it differently, at different times while she was alive. I spelled it with a “C”, but she wasn’t really my dog.

Oh, my dad will say “until the sun goes down” that Casey was my dog. After all, I brought her home. But she wasn’t. She was dad’s dog, his boon companion and walking partner.

It’s a bit of a story, how we got Casey. Just after Christmas Break, my last year in college, the 18-year-old family dog, Pepper, died of kidney failure. Pepper had been around for 90% of my life at that point, but she was frail and it wasn’t a surprise when mom called me up. It was a Wednesday, January 20th, 1999, around 4:30 pm. I still remember…

At one point my mom hinted that she’d like a lab-mix, and a friend from college told me about a pup at her grandma’s farm. It turns out that M (my friend) had “rescued” an unwanted dog from friends on the east coast while she was visiting. The golden retriever-beagle mix was apparently rather stupid and unliked. I never saw her so I can’t judge. By the time M got her to the midwest, she was pregnant by a black lab – she had 5 black lab pups in late September 1998.

M brought the dog to her grandmother’s farm and since “grandma” was an old-school farm lady, and she didn’t want the dogs she “did away” with the mother and three puppies. There were two left and grandma really only wanted one. So I trucked out there to see her.

This pup wanted nothing to do with me. She was almost 6 months old, had lived entirely on the farm, and was practically unsocialized. But M promised she was sweet, just shy. I couldn’t leave her to be drowned, or whatever. So I gave in… yeah, sucker!

A few weeks later, I packed up the car for spring break and went back to the farm. After 2 hours I finally caught this half-wild dog and I set her on the front seat, where she didn’t move for the whole 2 hour drive. When I got her home she didn’t move, but had to be picked up to be moved around, she was that scared.

Dad took one look at her and told me to take her back.

But in a few weeks, after learning what a leash was, a trampoline, and that no one was going to hurt her Casey was finally named and became part of the family. She was fist Spot (because she was all black), Apple and BC (Black Cherry) led us to Casey…

I was home that summer, freshly graduated and no idea what to do.¬†Casey and I took some obedience and agility training, which was a lot of fun – when she wasn’t running off to sniff, completely ignoring me. Actually, it was all a lot of fun – she loved hiding in the tunnels…

But soon I had to move for a job and Casey couldn’t come with me; not that she wanted to. She didn’t enjoy change. For years dad told me that “my dog” was waiting for me. And I’d always meant to take Casey with me – but by the time I was in a position to do so, she had totally fallen for dad.

And when dad was recovering from bipass surgery, he took up walking all over town – really long distances – and Casey was his partner. People around town knew exactly who they were and would ask after Casey on those rare days when she wasn’t with him, pulling over to the side of the road just to ask.

Casey was a quiet dog, she didn’t bark much; but snorted and snored like nothing I’ve ever heard. She had the perfect black lab head, that cocked just to the perfect angle. She looked like a black lab with her legs cut short like a beagle’s. And her tail was a WMD, knocking into everything, and leaving bruises when she wagged it.

Her fur was soft, like a plush stuffed animal. And she shed it like crazy, leaving drifts of hair around the house and in the beds; on the sofa; on her favorite chairs; on the back porch when we brushed her…

Casey was so sweet that most people loved her at first meeting. She’d sit patiently waiting to be pet and then put a paw up just to remind you that she was there. She could “shake” hands with either paw, switching when you were done with one and offering the other, repeating until she got a treat. And she could hold a Milkbone on her nose until you released her – which she rather hated, but put up with patient dignity.

And she was a sulker – when someone was leaving, and the suitcases were out, Casey could pull out her misery and wrap it around her like a cloak. She would turn her back on the proceedings and face the wall. It was so bad that my brother would put her out the back door just so he didn’t have to face her when he was loading a vehicle to leave.

It’s hard thinking that I can’t pet her silky ears again, or hear her nails scrabble on the wood floor as she preps to jump on the sofa or bed.

It’s interesting how attached we get to critters. They are there all the time, so much so that we forget to appreciate them – often like family. But they add so very much. To a house they add presence. To a homecoming they add joy. To a quiet evening they add company. And no matter that time spent must come to an end, just as with any relationship, there can be only passing sorrow for it. Remember good times, and happy days make all the difference.

Cherish your pets. Like many relationships, and more than most, they are so very special.