Mojo can’t stop sniffing me. He sniffs, runs around the room, and then comes back to sniff me again. He runs his nose up and down my jeans, as if I’ve hidden Casey Dog in them somewhere.
I haven’t written much about my Casey Dog for various reasons, but mostly because he wasn’t the kind of goofy dog who lent himself to slapstick. Even when he was a puppy he’d never do anything so crass as to jump on you, or chew on your hand, or sing when you played on the piano. He was a true gentleman, polite and respectful.
He was also extremely clever. When Sissy brought him home to us—a tiny bundle of black fur—we saw right away that he had a thing for tennis balls. He picked one up and dropped it into my lap, and then moved back a few steps, as if he wanted me to throw it.
I threw it, thinking that would be the end of it, but he brought it back to me and dropped it in my lap. Then he moved back a few steps, as if he wanted me to throw it again.
He was the first dog I ever had who taught me how to play fetch, rather than the other way around.
The boys were very small when Casey came to live with us but he was so good with kids. Even when we moved to the cul-de-sac, where 12 new kids made themselves at home in our house—shrieking and planting their handprints on the walls—Casey took it all in stride.
One of the cul-de-sac kids was named “K.C.” which made things kind of confusing because both names sound alike when spoken. So we started calling our dog “Casey Dog” and the neighbor kid “K.C. Boy”.
Poor kid. Even if he becomes the CEO of a major company, or a burly Harley biker, or even a star in the World Wrestling Foundation, we’ll still call him “K.C. Boy.”
Poodles don’t shed but you do have to clip them. The first couple of years I groomed Casey Dog myself to save money. Once I gave him a Mohawk just for the fun of it, but Casey Dog looked so hurt that I had to shave it off immediately.
We never gave him a foo-foo poodle cut, either, because Hubby said all the other dogs in the neighborhood would laugh at him. So he usually got a lamb cut or a kennel clip.
When we brought Mojo home, Casey Dog was as polite as he was to other dogs, but he did seem a little grouchier than before. We thought it was because he was finally getting old and crotchety. Once Mojo stopped piddling in Casey Dog’s bed, though, Casey Dog seemed more open to living with the bulldog usurper.
At one point Casey Dog took it upon himself to teach the new pup how to play tug-of-war. He’d hold the rings at the right height for Mojo to grab on, and then he’d growl and pull just like he’d do with any other dog.
When Mojo lost his grip, Casey Dog would stop growling, hold still and lower the rings again so Mojo could latch on, and then they’d resume their tug-of-war.
Casey Dog had strict rules, though. If Mojo reached up with a paw to pull down the rings, Casey Dog would give them a good, hard shake and Mojo would fall off.
In September I took Casey Dog in for a senior checkup. He’d developed a cough I was going to ask about, but on that day he also seemed sluggish.
The vet found a heart murmur and after some tests, she told me he had canine hemangiosarcoma. He could go at any time, she said, possibly live as long as three months, but that this was a fatal prognosis and there was no hope for him, especially considering his age.
I found it difficult to write anything at all about Casey Dog after that.
Mojo’s finally given up looking for Casey Dog. I let him sniff the bit of Casey Dog’s fur that the vet clipped for me as a keepsake this morning. Mojo seemed satisfied with that and now he’s snoring in his dog bed. I wonder if he understands.
I know we all have to die sometime, and I know we were lucky to have three months more with him than the vet predicted, but losing Casey Dog seems especially hard.
Maybe it’s because my boys are growing up, and Casey Dog was a part of their childhood, or maybe it’s because we’ve been through so much together. And maybe it’s just because he was my sweet, sweet Casey Dog.
I don’t know. I don’t know anything, except that it hurts.