Monday, March 11, 2013

Casey Dog

When my children were young they begged and pleaded for me to let them have a dog.  The problem (for me) was that we lived in a city, in a crowded subdivision, and our backyard was not fenced in.  And I was a single mother on a very limited income.  So, although the boys really wanted something large like a Labrador Retriever, I eventually relented and bought (pardon me - adopted) a 6-week old Shih Tzu. The puppy was a surprise for the kids.  And of course I only got him for the kids.  (What kind of mother do you think I am?)  But on the way home *I* named him.  ;o)

The puppy's name was Casey, becoming better known as "Casey Dog," with other nicknames such as "Case" and "CD."

Casey Dog was a sweet little fella, but he was also stubborn.  Obstinate.  Temperamental.  He was going to have his way, it didn't matter that I out-weighed the little guy by... well, we won't say by how much.  He was a diva dog and we all pretty much catered to his every whim.  Mostly because he gave us no other option.

Kerry and Casey Dog at the ball field - May 19, 2000
The last several years were hard on old Case.  He developed cataracts in both eyes and was eventually blind.  Maybe he couldn't hear, either, but it was just as likely that he merely chose to ignore what we asked of him.  "Casey, let's go outside!  Come on, Case.  This way, CD."  (I'm pretty sure he only suffered from selective hearing, but maybe it was a mix of selective hearing with hard-of-hearing.)  But I began to notice how he was slow to get up.  Slow to move around.  His walking became sort of disjointed, as though painful, and I believe he suffered from arthritis.  The last few months he also slept 22 or more out of every 24 hours.

Lyndsi was his favorite person.  He loved us all, but she was the easiest to convince to do his bidding.  He knew she would let him sit in her lap.  He knew she would let him sleep in her warm bed.  He knew she would carry him to the grass and then carry him back to the couch.  He knew she would give him extra dog food and water.  Her fiance, Jeremy, became his second most favorite person.  But he was just as likely to bite Jeremy if Jeremy decided to try and make him scoot over.  He didn't want to scoot over, damn it.  Casey loved the rest of us, but we were subordinates next to Lyndsi and Jeremy.

It was hard on Case when Lyndsi left home for college.  The first two years he woke me 5 nights out of 7, sometime between 1:30 and 3:00, to take him outside.  He might need to pee.  Or poop.  But it was just as likely that he was in the mood for a walk around the back yard.  It was like having an infant in the house, catering to Casey's needs and whims in the middle of the night.

Over the last year Casey Dog began losing his teeth.  And he would throw up a lot.  Sometimes he would wake himself up from a sound sleep, throwing up a greenish-yellow bile from an empty stomach.  He suffered from some sort of confusion, too, possibly the onset of dementia.  He would get stuck in the corner of my bedroom or in the kitchen or in the backyard, not really knowing where he was or able to figure out how to get where he wanted to go.  We'd be watching TV and would notice Case sitting across the room, facing a corner.

It became evident that Casey's quality of life was not good.  He stopped wanting to sleep in the bed with me.  Then he stopped wanting to sleep in the room with me.  He didn't want to leave the couch and only did so to eat or to do his business outside.  He trembled a lot.  He sometimes whimpered for no apparent reason. And so, after many months of questioning if it was the right thing to do, if it was time, Steve and I took Casey Dog to be put down Saturday morning.

And I can't talk about it.  And I can't stop crying.

I miss the little stinker so much.  Our other dog, Truman, seems to miss him a lot, too.

Lowg wrote a eulogy for him Saturday afternoon.

by:  Logan T. Matthews

I grew up under the tender care of my mother; spending the first 18 years in almost as many homes. My belongings were in a constant state of delivery. My brother, Jordan, and sister, Lyndsi, and I would often joke that we should keep them boxed up, assuming the next move was just around the corner. It was a joke for all of us. We clearly didn’t mind the shuffle. I think most young people are somehow hindered “developmentally” by change, desiring some form of consistency in their lives. However, for us, the only thing that remained consistent was change. And, as I said, we clearly didn’t mind.

Change defined most of my adolescent years. I saw the change from what many would consider a nuclear family – or “nuke-uler” as it was in our family – to one under the direction of new stepfathers. I saw how a man ought to treat a woman, and how they shouldn’t. I also recognized the closeness that remained during it all. My family was very small; consisting only of my Mom, Jordan and Lyndsi. And then Casey.

His preferred spot was all up in Lyndsi's face.
By the ripe old age of 12, me, Jordan and Lyndsi (at age 10) had learned the art of persuasion. We knew how to get our way with Mom. She, of course, had established expectations for us and we were determined to meet them. However, when time permitted, we could get our way. Nowhere was this more evident than the times in which we would convince her to let us stay the night with our beloved cousins, Chelsea and Adriane. To be sure, Mom knew when to pick her battles. She knew that allowing us to bond with our cousins was for our benefit, and seeing as we always stayed with Uncle Wade and Aunt Karen, it meant we were out of her hair - for a couple of nights at the very least. She needed it from time to time and certainly had an interest in us getting “our way”. So, when it came time to get a dog, we knew all the tricks and just how to use them – and she aligned her interests as well.

She picked out Casey from a batch of other shih tzus (note: I had to look up how to spell that. To me, it has always been “shit-zu”). Casey was among the most active as a puppy. He grew to be one of the largest shih tzus I have or will ever see. I’m not quite sure where the name Casey came from, but it was a perfect fit, especially when you added “dog” to the end of it; making reference to the exact “thing” you were talking to. His name even rang to the tune of one of our favorite whistling measures. I can hear it vividly in my head and if you are reading this, you can probably hear it as well.

Casey Dog walking around in Lyndsi's bra.
Growing up with Casey was extremely eye opening. I learned the value of taking care of something; or maybe it was someone. I learned responsibility. Known among the family as the “absent minded professor”, I can recount what seems like thousands of times that I would forget my wallet and keys, oftentimes only realizing that I had left them when I had arrived at my destination – and needed them. Casey taught me to think, responsibly, about him and what he may need. In addition, everything I know about the dog reproductive system comes from Casey. Not that this knowledge is of particular importance in my life, but it certainly makes for a good story. Simply put, Casey loved that afghan comforter.

More so than what he taught me, though, was what he gave us, each of us. Casey was, for the better part of my childhood, consistency. He was there. He was excited to see me – when he could see. At Quail Ridge, a house often referred to by the name of the street on which it was located, Casey would run around the divider between the dining room and living room almost effortlessly. He would show off, and strut his stuff, proudly. Casey was exciting to be around and even into his later years, provided a great deal of fun for all of us.

Unfortunately, Casey didn’t have the power of words. He couldn’t utter strong phrases in perfectly orchestrated English. Coming to think of it, though, it never seemed to bother him all that much. But, he did have Lyndsi. Lyndsi knew just how Casey would talk, if he had a voice. Casey seemed to play along, almost as though it was the perfect depiction. “I remember when I could see”, Casey would say, Lyndsi would say in a masked deep raspy voice, like he had just finished a hard day of licking his nuts or turning his head at the sound of Truman running around him. Despite his inability to speak, Casey was a loud presence in each of our lives.

In the end, I think everyone could feel that Casey’s best days were behind him. He had “left it all out on the court” so to speak, and was meandering through the days as best he could. He certainly enjoyed the company, even though he acted out like an ill-tempered nursing home patient from time to time. He was set in his ways, as most of us are to some degree or other. He was waiting for today, unsure but with courage and resolve that he was the best damn dog he could be.

Because all dogs go to heaven, so they say, I know that he is looking down - that’s right, looking – and enjoying himself as all dogs of Casey’s caliber might. I know that Shine, Papa’s dog, is showing him around and maybe meeting up with some hot girl dogs up there. They will be best of friends before we get to see them again, and better for it. They have each other, and that’s as good as it gets. I can’t speak for Casey, as Lyndsi can, but if he were speaking down from heaven, I know he would say that we were the best thing that ever happened to him. Yeah, Casey Dog lived the greatest life he could. He was meaningful and taught each of us something we’ll never forget. Mom got her wish to teach us responsibility and we got ours. And, when his heart beat no more, I know his fingers whispered … the number three.

Rest in Peace, our beloved Casey Dog.
February 13th, 2000 to March 9th, 2013

1 comment:

  1. And I'm not even a dog lover, but this made me tear up, too. Casey Dog has been a family member so long that even I will miss him. Farewell, Casey. GC (Granny Carolyn)