There’s a reason why a dog is a man’s or a woman’s best friend, even if they slobber, shed all over the couch, and eat too much. They’re furry and warm and cute. They make us feel like we’re the only thing in the world to them and are coming home every day is the highlight of their whole life. And most importantly, they never judge us. When we’ve won their love and trust, that love is unconditional. It doesn’t matter to them if we’re good at sports or if we get all ‘A’s on our report card. As long as we return their love, that’s all that matters to them.
This Thanksgiving I seem to be thinking about my sweet Casey more than usual so I thought I’d share his story with you.
And goodness knows that as a major dog lover, I’ve had my fair share of furry friends. I have two at home right now that, as much as I spoil them and treat them like family members, they may as well be sitting at the table when we eat dinner. However, as many dogs as we may have in a lifetime, there’s always that one special dog that never quite leaves our heart, that other dogs we bring into our home never quite replace. For me, that dog’s name was Casey and, unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to him six years ago when he died at the age of thirteen.
Casey came to us as a puppy of six weeks, an Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix that we rescued from the pound. His most distinctive physical trait was his eyes, two soulful sky-blue eyes. He had a warm and loveable personality, and he became friends with anyone that came into the house. We used to joke that this probably would include any would-be thieves that might come calling when we were not at home. However, he had a dash of deviousness, a result of him being bred from two of the smartest dog breeds there are. This devious streak usually manifested in daring escape attempts so that he could make his rounds of the neighborhood. He loved people, and he loved kids, and somehow, he always found a way to sneak out of the house when our backs were turned. Then he’d make a mad dash across the front yard and be out of sight before we could even think of giving chase.
We worried about him being hit by a car, but we always found him in someone else’s yard where there were people gathered. He’d be placidly sitting in the lady’s driveway one block over as giggling children rollerbladed around him or be hanging out with the tough-looking biker gang that had moved into the corner house, much to the horror of the rest of the neighborhood. Not that he shared the popular consensus, and why should he? They petted him and gave him food and put blankets down so he wouldn’t have to lie on the hard concrete. Also, his deviousness also manifested in built-in radar, which he used to sense any of us trying to sneak up on him during these outings. He’d just run away and hide and come back out after we were a safe distance away. Fortunately, we never had much to worry about, even if he was running loose. He never wandered out of the neighborhood, and he always came back home after he was done visiting the neighbors.
Of course, we tried to keep these outings to a minimum, and most of the time, if he was out running the streets, he was attached to a leash. When he wasn’t visiting the neighbors, he was busy making me feel loved during my difficult teenage years, a full-time job considering the object of his affection was a shy, sullen girl who never opened her mouth while at school and, as a result, had only a handful of friends and two exasperated parents. And in between all of this, he still had time to babysit my aunt’s foster children. If they were over for the day, we never had to worry about them wandering out of the living room and getting into something they shouldn’t because he had a sheep herder’s instinct for knowing when one of the flock was straying, and then he’d just herd them back toward the TV gently, relentlessly, and without them being aware that he was even doing anything. In both his and my grandmother’s final days, he was her constant companion, lying beside her chair and coming to get my brother or me if she fell and couldn’t get back up. They died two weeks apart from each other, a hard blow for the rest of us who had to deal with the death of two loved ones in such a short space of time.
Made Me So Happy
As can be seen, Casey wasn’t the dog I loved the most because he did anything spectacular. He never rushed into a burning building to save a child. He never stood between me and an enraged grizzly bear or stopped a murderer from knifing us to death in our sleep. Rather, it was what he was and who he was every day of his life that endeared him to me. There were so many small things he did that made me happy, like coming home each day to find him waiting at the door without fail, watching the neighbors smile when they’d see him coming, and always knowing he was laying there under the coffee table when the family was gathered in the living room in the evenings. Though I’ll always have dogs, because, in my opinion, a home is not complete unless a four-footed furry friend is padding around in it, there will never be another loveable, mangy mutt with mismatched eyes and a heart big enough to include everyone in the neighborhood quite like the one I had in my teenage years. And no matter how many years pass or how many dogs I love and eventually have to say goodbye to, I’ll never quite forget a dog named Casey.
Thanks for reading and letting me share my story with you.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!