My husband and I moved to Arizona in November of 2003. At that time, we had 5 dogs–one Collie and four Shelties. I had tried to do therapy work with all of them but they just weren’t suited to doing therapy work. Tawney, the Collie, was too old. Three of the Shelties just were not good candidates to do therapy work. Yes, they loved us but really didn’t want interaction with other people.
I took our 4th Sheltie, Brenna, through obedience training and then therapy dog classes. She passed all of the classes with ease but when it came time to make a visit with someone, she would do it but only because I asked her to. It was obvious that she really didn’t want to interact with people other than my husband and I. I came to the sad conclusion after all the training that it wasn’t fair of me to force Brenna to do therapy work when she really didn’t want to do it. So I pulled her from the program.
I was really depressed after pulling Brenna from therapy training. Here I had 5 dogs and not a one of them was able to do therapy work with me. I started looking at available Sheltie puppies on Puppyfind.com. Yes, I know, I’ve been told that I’m a bad person because I’ve purchased dogs off of the internet. Well, I can guarantee you that 3 of my current dogs came off Puppyfind and they are some of the best dogs I have. Harley, Shelby, and Skylar are my 3 puppyfind dogs. They are three of the most incredible dogs I have so please keep your anger with me to yourself. Thank you.
I started perusing Puppyfind in early 2005 and found a cute sable-headed-white male Sheltie in Tennessee. My husband thought he was very cute so we negotiated to buy him and have him sent from Tennessee to the Las Vegas airport via Delta. Casey MacPherson arrived two weeks later and we picked up this sweet puppy at the Vegas airport. My husband drove us home to Kingman, AZ where we lived while I held Casey the whole way home. He was scared and didn’t understand what was happening, but I cuddled him close until we got home.
Casey was absolutely adorable. He was a beautifully formed Sheltie and the rich sable coloring of his head stood in stark contrast to his beautiful white body fur. He did have a couple of sable colored spots on his body. He was a very handsome boy and I couldn’t wait to get started on obedience training with him.
Once he was 10 weeks old, I started him on obedience training. He was smart and attentive and did the required heel, sit, stay and come commands with ease. But there was one trait that Casey had that eliminated him from taking part in therapy dog training. For some reason, while walking him on a leash or even just sitting with him while on leash, he would take off and try to attack any dog that came nearby to him. I couldn’t figure out what was causing it. He didn’t do it for every dog that walked by and it didn’t happen every time a dog that he had tried attacking walked by. It was random and I just could not figure out what was causing him to do this. The long and short of it is though, Casey was not therapy dog material since it required interacting with other dogs and not in an attack mode! I was back to square one when it came to therapy dogs.
Fast forward a couple of years. By this time I had adopted Mario who became my first therapy dog. Both my husband and I wanted to move back to Minnesota. We packed up all the dogs and moved back to Hutchinson in late 2007. Unfortunately, things were not good between my husband and I and we made the decision to divorce in summer of 2008. We had to divide the dogs. Leaving Casey with Glen was an easy choice though as Mario and Casey just didn’t like each other and only got along begrudgingly.
After our divorce, Casey acted for Glen as Mario and Harley did for me–these dogs gave us their love and therapy every day. I saw Casey the first couple of years after our divorce as Glen would have me pet sit for his dogs whenever he went out of town. That changed, however, after a couple of years. His live-in girlfriend didn’t want me near the house. Occasionally over the past several years I would run into Glen walking Casey. It always did my heart good when Casey recognized me right away.
Fast forward to 2016. Glen walked every day with Casey and the two of them were best buddies. Casey became ill though in spring of 2016 displaying bleeding from the nose and some other symptoms. Veterinary care got him through that crisis until November of 2016 when all of a sudden he started tilting his head and walking very stilted in the direction his head was tilted. When Glen asked me if I had any idea what the cause was I threw out vestibular. I honestly didn’t know what the problem was but I found out that Casey had a holdover symptom from his sickness earlier in the spring. He had megaesophagus. It meant his esophagus was enlarged and it left him unable to swallow food and water without sometimes aspirating it into his lungs. The poor baby.
Glen got a second opinion on Casey from the vet that I use. He suggested that Glen bring him to a neurologist to find out what could be causing the problem of the head tilt. Glen brought Casey a few days later to the neurologist where he heard words that he didn’t really want to hear–Casey had a brain tumor which was sitting on the brain stem. Surgery was not an option because of the tumor’s location and it didn’t matter if it was cancerous or not as the tumor was growing and would continue to grow.
When Casey was really on the decline in February, my ex had me over to the house to see Casey. This poor little dog who was so full of pee and vinegar on a walk was just lying there on a dog bed, raspy sounds coming from his lungs as he breathed. I tried to talk Glen into putting him down soon because I couldn’t stand seeing him suffering. Casey was one of the most stoic dogs I had known, never letting any of us know whether he was suffering with pain or not. He reminded me so much of Mario when Mario went downhill so quickly. Glen agonized over the decision to put him down until it got so bad that he had no alternative. Earlier this month, Casey went to the Rainbow Bridge.
Casey, it was with such anticipation and excitement that we drove up to Vegas to pick you up so many years ago. You were one of the most handsome Shelties I have seen and with Glen and I, you couldn’t have been more loving. Even though I didn’t have the “care and custody” of you after your “dad” and I divorced, I know you never forgot me. I know your dad loved you very much and took excellent care of you. He loved those daily walks with you. You were such a great dog and I’m hoping you can find your way back to your dad just as in “A Dog’s Purpose”. You have really left a big hole in our hearts. But I know you–I’m sure you are running like a wild boy up at the Rainbow Bridge. I’ll bet that even you and Mario are good friends and are enjoying playing and chasing each other. How do I know this? I had a dream about it last week. I saw you playing and jumping like that sweet puppy you were back in 2005 did. Until my time is over, enjoy your time at the Bridge and I’ll see you again. Thanks for being such a good therapy dog for your dad!