We drove east on I-80 one Saturday in late spring of 2001. Exit 54, north to Elk Horn, Iowa. I put down a deposit months ago and we were on our way to choose a puppy! It was a unanimous decision: runt of the litter, small enough to fit on the palm of Al's hand, too young to go home with us. About a month later, Alyssa and I picked her up and she became part of our family.
"Why is she your favorite?" they asked.
- She always does what I tell her.
- She never asks for money.
- She never rolls her eyes at me.
That last sentence always said to their backs as they turned away, rolling their eyes.
"She" is Casey, a Miniature Schnauzer. Named after Sean Casey, who played first base for the Cincinnati Reds.
I don't know if I can express how important Casey was to our family. She was a beautiful dog who didn't know she was a dog. She and I went on long walks along the West Papio Trail. She loved to chase rabbits. I watched her run flat out, low to the ground. Hundreds of times after hundreds of bunnies. She never caught a single one. One time she ran over a baby bunny, frozen in place. Neither one of them knew what to do! She learned to sit when a biker passed us and often sat before being told when she heard the whine of tires before I saw or heard the bike. She didn't like to interact with other dogs when I stopped to talk with other dog walkers. They were dogs, she was people.
In 2010, Casey was diagnosed with immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. I was one of those people who judged people who spent lots of money on medical care for their pets. Suddenly, I was one of them. I may have actually said "I don't care what it costs, just fix her". If I didn't say it out loud, I was thinking it. She tore her ACL in 2013 and I carried her up and down stairs for 3 months after her surgery.
She was my faithful companion, happy being with me. She followed me all over the house, always wanting to be in the same room. She was a good traveler, riding in the back seat to Ohio and Arizona many times. My Mom, who didn't like animals in the house, allowed that Casey was ok.
Casey wasn't perfect. She chewed the rungs on every kitchen chair we owned. She chewed through a cardboard box, then through the box and ate half a box of Thin Mints. She got into the trash. Scattered it over the floor. Every. Single. Day. We ended up using a plastic bag in the sink as a garbage can so it would be out of her reach. Friends and family got used to our weird trash location. Casey didn't get yelled at.
The first Saturday in June, Casey had a nosebleed. A trip to the emergency animal clinic. Test after test. I don't care what it costs, just fix her. We went to a specialist to do scans of her head and GI tract. Dr. Miller and I decided that if he found something in her nasal scan, he would not do any further testing. You have to pay up front. I knew it was bad when they gave me a refund for tests not done. Casey had a solid carcinoma in her right sinus cavity. Terminal. No treatment. Weeks to a couple of months. Just take her home and keep her comfortable. You'll know when it is time.
Bullshit. She was supposed to be with us for a few more years. Thirteen years was not enough. I don't know if 20 years would have satisfied me. And "you'll know when it is time". That is bullshit. Pure and simple. I agonized over it. Did a really bad day mean it was time? Did a good day give me too much hope for more time?
In late July, I didn't know if it was time. I knew that both Casey and I were suffering. Alyssa and I took Casey to the vet to say goodbye. I miss you, Casey.
Forever My Favorite