Casey Alexander (Dec. 25, 1995-July 23, 2011)
Dear sweet Casey,
You were the best friend and dog I ever had. Thank you for letting me share 15 wonderful years with you. You were that "special dog" that came along in my life. You were a warrior--stoic, loyal, and loving to a fault.
I named you Casey--just because it fit. I named you Alexander, after Alexander the Great, because I wanted you to be noble and brave. And you were. You survived the elements of a storm at three months old, yelping until someone found you. And I was the person lucky enough to be the one who did find you. I picked you up out of a thorn bush in the woods, at night in the pouring rain, and carried your fluffy little body across a creek and into my house. I washed you. The next day, I walked you all over the neighborhood, made signs to try to find your owners--but no one came. You were mine and I loved you.
You loved to run like a deer and sit as regal as a Sphinx, even though you were not a cat (I can see your look now, even at the mention of a cat...they were not your friends!). You loved peanut butter--especially when I put it between two bones. You loved cheese and it made you happy. I will not know what to do the next time I grill out. I will keep looking to the edge of the deck for you sniffing the air. I will also constantly be on the lookout for you, making sure that you aren't getting too close to the grill...even though you aren't there now.
You were smart, but you hated most toys, almost as if you considered them beneath you and for puppies. You always had a maturity about you. You always seemed to know exactly what we were saying. You also could work out solutions for things you considered problems. If there was a barrier in your way, you knew how to move it. You could open doors (though the glass door perplexed you...it only took once running into it--in spite of the stick-on things placed there to prevent you from hitting it).
And you earned yet another name: little Houdini. For years, we would put your rabies tag on your collar, and, inevitably, after a week or so, it would disappear. For years, we couldn't figure this out. So, we would have to go to the vet and get another tag. Finally, dad decided that you must be getting it off of your collar somehow, so we bought a strong, industrial type key chain ring, and slipped the tag on there and on your collar. A few weeks went by, and the tag was still on...so we thought we had solved the problem; but one day it was gone. So, we got another tag and another industrial ring (this time twisted with pliers in an odd shape to keep it on your collar). This lasted about a month, until one day it wasn't there anymore. AGAIN. We gave up and let you have your way. About six months later, I was outside, talking to you as you were resting under the deck in the shade. Suddenly, I noticed something gleaming under the sand. And there they were: all of your tags in one neat little pile, and all of your key chains in another. Each were buried under a little pile of sand. But the weird part? The part that made you a genius? That each of the key chains--even the heavy, industrial strength ones--had been flattened out in a straight line.
I still don't know how you did that! But it was genius, as dad said.
Still, you embodied Mozart's definition of genius. He said, "Love, love, love: that is the soul of genius." And you were all love. So you were the "soul of genius."
You were careful and gentle. You never bit anyone, and you only growled at someone one time (and, damn it, he deserved it). Even as a puppy, you never jumped on people, though you weren't above jumping up into your favorite chair to sleep (and that was just fine). You liked to stand up to look over counters. You also liked to open my bedroom door during storms. When you were little, you would jump up on my bed and stay curled up next to me the minute the rain started to fall, and I always felt so sad, because I wondered if you were remembering those terrifying, long hours you spent in the storm when you were a puppy. If there was a storm when I wasn't home, I would come into the house, have a moment of panic at not being able to find you, and then realize that you were just upstairs on my bed. Some of the best times were those times, and I would just hold you. And, when you could no longer jump on the bed, you would sit next to the side where I slept, and I would pet you in the middle of the night.
We loved you so much. And we know you loved us.
You loved mom. You and she bonded over the last three years, and you loved to watch her cook. She was devoted to you, and took you on walks, which you loved more than anything. She sang to you and loved you--and you loved her back.
You also loved your walking buddy, dad. When he was in the hospital for cardiac arrest, you slept with me every night, and would walk each morning and night into dad's room, just to see why he wasn't there. You were so happy when he came home.
I know you loved me, just as I loved you. When I had to move to Tampa for a year, I always wondered if you would miss me. Then, I got a phone call down there, and dad said you were acting a little strange, not wanting to interact with anyone. I had been home for the weekend a few times by then, but I got in my car and drove home. When I got there and you saw me, you jumped up off of your bed and wagged your tail. You were so happy and came back to your normal self.
You also loved nature--especially flowers. Mom was right (in so many ways) to call you our little reincarnated flower child. You loved smelling them and you truly embodied what it means to "stop and smell the roses." I learned from you.
And I will be especially sad when it snows, because you loved it so much.
In the middle of the night, I will be waiting for your bark. That one sound used to mean that you wanted to sleep in the wild outdoors for the night, but lately it meant something else. And that was so hard to hear. And mom would sleep with you, trying to comfort you each night. It helped so much.
Yet, you were stoic. You never complained or cried out. You endured any type of pain without showing it--all the way to the end. And, at the end, you let me help you, carry you, hold your head while you slipped into that gentle night.
And, if a dog could have one, you had a sense of humor, my love! You were so funny! You knew it, too, I think, because you enjoyed making us laugh. That is how you earned your most used name: Bean. Yes, you were "Casey Bean" or "The Bean" or just "Bean." You earned that name because of your unusual, quirky ways. So, we nicknamed you "Bean" after "Mr. Bean," the British comedian.
Forever I will keep those funny and wonderful memories...of you always trying to run out of the door or getting off of your leash, scaring me to death (and me pretending to be dead in the road didn't even help...you thought it was a game, crazy dog, and would run past me grinning). I also remember you, at age three, taking off after a squirrel and being strong enough to drag me across a yard--on my stomach, because I couldn't run fast enough to keep up with you and I fell. You kept going until you heard me cry out, but you had a mission.
When it came to wildlife you always had a mission! You made sure our backyard was possum and raccoon free, for sure! And I remember the night we bonded forever: you, young and strong, fighting off a huge raccoon, who latched on to your ear and punctured it. That was one time you cried out, but only long enough to sling it off for good, daring it to move. I came from the other side and we finished him off together--me with a huge stick and you with a bite. It was the first time I had killed anything--but not yours. You stood there in fighter mode, not moving, tense and breathing hard. I threw the stick to the side, making sure the raccoon was dead, and picked you up. You were rigid as I carried you--all 80 pounds of you--into the house...I still don't know how I did that...or how I even took you up the stairs. I put you on the floor and did a quick check: yes, you were okay. Until I looked at my shirt. It was covered in blood--your blood. Just from your ear and you were okay, but I still called the emergency vet (who was actually more concerned about me than you). After things calmed, I cried. Killing something, even in defense, was hard.
Today was hard, too. But we were a team, you and I. I wasn't about to let you go out alone. I meant that it was going to be easy for you. We are like two things glued together--even now. (Just like the time we had workers at the house and a tornado came, so I let everyone into the garage, and you stood guard next to me. Pressed against my leg harder than ever before, you meant that no strange person was coming near me.) I knew what you were doing--and you were always right.
It has been hard this last month. There have been good days, but you needed to go.
But at least you had one last good ride in the car. And two days ago you had a great walk, too. You were a great walker. I am sure you would have rivaled Wordsworth and Dickens for the walking. And dad was the one who made sure of that...in fact, that is why you lived for fifteen and a half years. Your best buddy kept you in such wonderful shape that you never had any health problems--just an occasional bee sting or hot spot. You were so lucky.
You were also so beautiful. You became more gorgeous as you aged. You were lovelier the older you got, and we enjoyed every minute of having you with us. I count my years spent with you as one of the most wonderful privileges of my life.
We loved you so very much--and always will, my heart.