As I wake up each morning and make the trip out to the garage, I see two things that make me think of her: her cranberry colored bowl, accented with cornflower bones, and her medicine. Oscar goes outside and runs to the side of the house, looking for his sister. At night I turn on the backyard light, still expecting to see Casey laying on the concrete.
Our Casey was always meant to be a Wilson. In February of 2003 Curtis and I were in our first purchased home, a condominium, in Anaheim. We both wanted a dog and made the decision to adopt a mini dachshund from a breeder (Please educate yourself before adopting or buying a dog) in a small town not too far from our present day home. Soon after that Curtis’s sister informed us that she had taken Casey, her 3 year old black lab/pitbull mix, to the Orange County animal shelter. She couldn’t keep her any longer and felt she had no other options. When Curtis informed me of this we headed down to the shelter to save her. As soon as she saw us she recognized us, which made me so happy. We took her rambunctious self home and decided that we would try and find her a new home while we fostered her.
We ended up finding Casey a home with a sweet family that had lots of room for her to run and children. But after they took her home I immediately regretted it. Even as I swept up the wiry dog hair that had taken over our tiny place since her entrance, I knew that she was already a part of our family. So when they called us a week later to say they couldn’t keep her because she chased their cat (who would have thought?!), I was so happy to welcome her sweet puppy face back into my heart.
When we brought Oscar and all 3 pounds of him home at the beginning of April, I was nervous. Casey wasn’t a huge dog but at 60 pounds she could dominate him in one fell swoop. We kept Oscar in a crate for a few days to be safe. But that didn’t work when all he did was whine at night. We gradually brought them together when we were sure Casey wasn’t going to eat Oscar for a mid morning snack. To our surprise, Oscar became the boss of Casey. He would attack her head, nip at her tail, and even try to hump her leg any chance he could (before and after he was fixed). They were the funniest pair, racing through our barely 1000 square foot condo at top speed, like they were chasing the moving rabbit. They fought at times and even drew blood. But they were brother and sister above all else.
Casey was a good dog. She loved to cuddle, play, and I couldn’t have asked her to be any gentler with Curls and Red. But, holy hell, she was a runner. She had slowed down in the last couple of years in her life, but for the first nine years that she was with us, she would bolt any time she could. You leave our front door open enough to let the light in and Casey would be gone before you could take a breath. We had many times where I thought we had lost her only to have my knight in shining armor of a husband bring her back. My favorite incident was my 32nd birthday. I was six months pregnant with Curls. My parents had come down to take us out to dinner and we were all walking into our rented home in Costa Mesa. They knew Casey was a runner but still let their guard down for that millisecond that she needed to dash out into the late evening. It began an hour long chase where Curtis ran after her on foot through our neighborhood, trying not to attract too much attention. She thought he was playing a game and would let him get just close enough to give hope, only to take off again. He was finally able to tackle her to the ground on somebody’s front lawn. I hated that hubby had to chase her like that but it still makes me laugh when I picture her running with glee.
In May of last year Casey started to go downhill. Part of her face started to atrophy and a growth appeared on her right shoulder. She had lumps before that we had removed but this one was different. It felt like a rock. We were afraid to have her put under to have it taken out because of her age. But when she lost vision in her right eye, I knew deep down she wasn’t going to be around for much longer.
Curtis and I had the “When do we put her down?” conversation. I begged to put it off and promised to keep an eye on her. I had never had to do this and couldn’t understand how anybody could be expected to just say, “Yep. She needs to die now.” I understood the logic. You don’t want the animal to suffer. But I couldn’t (and still can’t) think that I am not killing her myself. Shouldering that responsibility hurts so much and I only hope that I can forgive myself for sitting there and holding her while the veterinarian injected her with enough anesthesia to stop her heart. When the vet checked her and let me know she was gone, I didn’t believe it. I kept waiting for her chest to rise again.
It has only been a few days since we lost her and I know it will get better. I try to give as much love to Oscar as I can, hoping he knows that he still has us. I want to get him somebody new to boss around but right now the thought just breaks my heart all over again. His sister was the sweetest animal I have ever known and nobody will ever take her place in our family.
I love you Casey.