Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cassandra Marie July 1992 - August 16, 2008

I have a heavy heart. Our sweet dog, our coonhound mix Cassie, is gone. We had to put her down this past weekend. We have been agonizing over whether and when to do it for a long time. In true coonhound fashion, though, she kept hanging tough, fooling us into thinking she could keep going for another day, another week, another month—who knew how long? It became apparent on Saturday morning that her time had run out. After the second seizure, John walked down to the new house where the boys were working and asked Tom for the name of a good vet. “Hopefully they can do something,” Tom said, even though John had made it clear that it didn’t look good. Those guys really liked her. Everyone really liked her.

We found Cassie at the pound sixteen years ago in Columbus. We had just moved from the country and had to give away a little terrier we had there. John and I were thinking we wouldn’t get another dog. Everyday life was easier without one. I’ll never forget what our passionate middle daughter, Sarah, who was ten years old at the time said about that decision: “We are NOT the kind of people who don’t have a dog!” It was such an adamant declaration of our family’s identity—or Sarah’s perception of it at least—that it settled the matter. Soon after that, John called me from the pound one afternoon and said, “You have got to come see this puppy.”

Cassie with the velvet ears and sad brown eyes.
Cassie with blue-ticking poured over tree-walker brown and black.
Cassie with the paws of a larger dog on her short body, the sway back of a basset hound and face that people mistook for beagle, unless they were from the country.
Everyone from the country nodded their head at her and said, “Nice coonhound.”

Cassie the food-stealer, baby licker, bird hunter.
Cassie the dog that people who don’t like dogs found themselves liking.
Cassie the pack-hound who couldn’t stand it when the kids would hike the trail ahead of the parents, and would run back and forth between us, barking her disapproval.

Every time we picked her up from vet after boarding her for our no-dog vacations, she made the receptionist laugh so hard because she stood there in the waiting room and chewed us out. Bark, bark, bark! Where the hell have you been? Don’t you ever! And then she would stop, lecture over, and pull us to the door with her leash looking all the world like a mother who had just put her foot down with her unruly children for the last time!

It was that love of being with the pack that helped John and I make our decision. We did not want her to die alone, in her kennel where we had to put her when we left the house to help her feel secure and to keep her from soiling the floors. Instead, we were with her, whispering what a good, good dog she was. And even though she couldn’t hear us with her ears anymore, she was listening with another part of her. She was calm and quiet and ready for rest. A well-earned rest in whatever heaven that dogs can imagine.


Kathy said...

Oh Meggie and John and all the Menkedicks, our hearts are as heavy as yours! We loved Cassie as well and have many fond memories of her food stealing. She did have one amazing belly! Our thoughts are with you on what we are sure are some lonely times at your home.

Anonymous said...

I don't own a pet. So I'm not going to pretend I know what it's like to have to let one go. But, I CAN tell you what I've heard in the last year or so when several friends and family members had to put their pets down, because it's usually the same phrase... My dog was there for me when I went through some tough times. When no one else was available, it was my cat that jumped up in my lap and stared into my eyes because she could see I needed comfort. Pets seem to be able to offer up something that not every human can. They are so uncomplicated - just giving you unconditional love, sitting with you when you are in uncertain times. They don't need you to explain anything, they just know you need company. In our lifetime, people seem to come and go, but your pet stays with you for a long time, through many changes - an anchor, a constant. Until it's time for them to go. For Cassie, and all the pets we have loved and lost...you will always be in our hearts. XO, Col

Dionne said...

So sorry to hear about Cassie. I never knew her; but I can imagine there are many memories that will remain pressed in your hearts forever. We just recently had to put our Terri down and it really is a difficult transition for everyone in the family. My thoughts are with you and your family as you move through this sad time.

grandmama said...

From Trish,

I'm so sorry to hear about Cassie, and yet I know how hard this end stage of a dog's (pet's) life can be. Hugs to your and yours, dear one.

Meg said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments and emails of support. Cassie is wagging her tail, I'm sure, and my heart is buoyed.
: )