Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Another Friend

We lost another member of the AARF family this week. Casey, one of our Silver Paws dogs, has been part of AARF for years.

In 2003, we received an email from a young girl, begging us to take in her family dog. The young girl's parents were getting a divorce, and neither parent was willing to take the canine member of the family in the move. This young girl was devastated at the thought that her dog would be killed, just because her parents were too uncaring to consider her in the divorce.

So, Casey became an AARF dog. When we picked her up, we found out she had been banished to the back yard and hadn't had vet care in years. She was suffering from mammary tumors, a very common disease in dogs who aren't spayed. Her teeth were just a mess, and she needed some serious dental care. We got Casey healthy, and along came what we thought was a great family.

In 2006, Casey's world fell apart again. Her new family added two human kids, and Casey was returned to AARF. She hadn't displayed ANY issues with the children, but the family made the decision to abandon Casey anyway. Now, Casey was about 8 years old, and had lost two families.

Since Casey's first time with AARF, we had started the Silver Paws Program, and Casey became eligible for placement through Silver Paws. After several months, we were contacted by Bette, who had recently lost her beloved lab, Rebel. She was looking for a new dog, and was drawn to Casey.

This is where Casey's life gets the fairy tale ending. Bette was exactly the home that Casey needed. She was adored by her new mom, and I think, quickly realized that she would never be abandoned again. She knew she was finally home. I smiled, and sometimes cried, when I thought about how wonderful Casey's final years would be.

Over the last year, Casey struggled with several health problems. But Bette explored every option to lengthen Casey's life without diminishing the quality. Casey went regularly for swim therapy and acupuncture to help with her mobility issues. She took medication to control seizures and regurgitation at night. And when she wouldn't eat, Bette even cooked for her to encourage her to eat and take her medication.

A few weeks ago, Casey was diagnosed with a very bad case of pneumonia. We knew that, because of all of her other issues, the treatment might not be effective. Bette and Casey took each day as it came, enjoying the good days and working through the bad days together. Throughout the journey, Bette made sure that Casey was still enjoying life.

On Friday morning, beautiful, sweet Casey left us. Bette stayed up with her throughout the night while she struggled, and Casey took her last breath with Bette's arms around her.

We have so many touching rescue and adoption stories, it's sometimes hard to pick the "best" ones. But Casey's journey is undoubtedly one of the very best. She was discarded by two families, and finally found the place she was supposed to be. While Casey's time with Bette might have been shorter than many of us have with our pets, the quality of that time is unmatched.

I am so grateful to Bette for giving Casey such a wonderful life for the last three years. I have such admiration for her for bringing home an older dog. And I am thankful for the care and love that Casey received from Bette. I know that love was returned, and Bette was just as lucky to have found Casey.

As I write this final goodbye to Casey, I am in awe of the amazing bond that Bette and Casey had, and will always have, in all of our memories. (See a tribute to Casey, made by her friend and pet sitter here.)

Rest in peace, Casey. And take comfort, Bette, in knowing you gave Casey such an amazing life, literally to her last breath.

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