When I met Casey 10 years ago it was love at first sight. He accepted me in to his life and he accepted my 5 children as well. He definitely had a knack for knowing people. Every person I ever saw him meet he would size up instantly, including myself and the kids. A very regal stature would present as he looked at you and then decided if you would be petting him for a few minutes or the rest of your now, very fortunate evening. His cohort at the time was Paco, and he did not like me or the kids at all! He would pee on my belongings, my side of the bed, and eat any and all toys the kids left within eye sight! Casey on the other hand was like the oldest man of the house. He was the epitome of chill, laid back, and cool. He had the patience of Gandhi and the appetite of Louie Anderson.

Casey quite possibly could sit amongst saints as far as how well mannered and aged he was but he had two vices that kept him out of sainthood….rolling in deer poo and taking out the trashcan when there was food in it. And he knew it too, I would come home to this new man in my life and there would trash strewn about from the kitchen to the living room and he would just look up at me with those big brown eyes. You could see the shock on his face as if he just didn’t understand what came over him. When he wasn’t overpowering the trash can, he was making the rounds in our home. He checked on all of us everywhere in the house we went. He always knew where each of the kids were and of course his Daddy! I have never seen such a beautiful bond between a man and his dog before meeting my husband and his Casey. Heath could communicate with Casey literally with his eyes. I couldn’t pull that off with my kids and I gave birth them?!

There are very few times in this life that you get to experience unconditional love. My husband and I have shared an amazing relationship and it continues to grow everyday as our family has over all these years, but one of the greatest moments I will always hold tight is the relationship our daughter has formed with her Daddy’s best friend of over 12 years. When our daughter Izzy-Bella was born we did not know how imperative Casey was going to be to her life. we had no idea the connection that would be formed or the bridge that would be afforded by Casey’s amazing demeanor. Bella had a very difficult time learning to communicate with us. There were many milestone moments developmentally that were concerning for us but she always seemed to be just fine as long as her “Ce-Ce” was there. Her first words were not Momma or Dada, they were “Ce-Ce”. She didnt call out for us, she called for Casey, and he came to her. When she learned to crawl, it was to chase him. When she learned to eat, it was so she could feed him. As she grew and could walk and run, it was so she could play with Casey. Every single moment of the last 4 years has been filled with a little girl’s unconditional love and honestly uncanny affection and understanding of an amazing four-legged-friend! She has been dubbed “The Dog Whisperer” in our house hold. This past Halloween as we trick-or-treated, Bella was just as concerned about the candy going into her bag as she was finding out which neighbor had a dog and what their doggies name was. She shares her love of Casey and our newest pup, Khaleesi, with anyone that will listen to her go on and on about them.

This will be Casey’s last Halloween with us and that is becoming ever so clear as the hours have passed by these last couple of days. He has been suffering with kidney failure for a few years now and we know it is time to let him go. Watching my husband go through this has been by far excruciating. Trying to find the words that stop sounding like “I’m sorry”… is tough. Casey adopted me and I eagerly accepted that many years ago. He was my husband’s baby coming in to our marriage. I struggle deeply with how to walk this walk with him right now. I know many may not equate the four-legged love in the same light as a child and all I can say to that is when you experience that kind of love, it just makes sense to you.

I have to make a phone call that I really don’t want to this morning and all I can think about is how do I tell the kids to say goodbye. We sat them all down yesterday after dinner and shared openly what is happening and that it looks like it will be soon but I did not anticipate it being a day later. Casey can not take himself up or down the stairs anymore and he has started to refuse food. We know what is next for his physical body but the soul that is inside this most amazing animal is still touching all of us and I can see it. I never could have imagined the valuable lessons that I have been taught over all these years by Casey… LOVE truly transcends all. We were so broken when we arrived in Heath and Casey’s lives but those two “men” put us together as a family… Casey will always be remembered for a million different reasons but one that always stays close to my heart is for helping to bring two of my babies home safely… when Serenity and Justin were literally still in diapers, Serenity decided she wanted to go exploring in our brand new development. Justin being the big brother of 2 1/2 years old opted to go with her. With blankies in tow and nothing on but diapers (it was summer), Serenity aka Houdini, unlocked the sliding glass door and trooped out with Justin. Casey Followed them along side our other pup at the time Paco. We were told by neighbors and police that Casey stayed by their sides as they trekked across the entire development and Paco circled my babies not allowing anyone, including the police officers trying to help us find them, near them. I truly believe Casey and Paco protected my babies that day and I have been eternally grateful ever since.  Casey has become an integral part to our family and I really can’t figure out how to not have him here with us.

I am trying to find solace in the fact that we are being given the gift of time to say good-bye to him. That the kids are old enough to understand.. even Bella as young as she is. I think she knew before we did honestly. When we arrived today we were told that a tumor was growing rapidly in his abdomen in the exact spot Bella has been telling us for a year now was “hurting Casey’s tummy”… Coincidence or not, we may never know… We talked last night about all the wonderful moments that those two have shared. We worry if she will remember him and the bond that she formed. I think that she will. I think that some piece inside her heart will always just know who Casey was to her. In the days ahead, I fear her looking for him, calling for him, and not being able to help her understand that Casey is ok now. I don’t know how we are going to handle that one… for right now we do have a campfire coming up, we will sit and share stories and S’mores of our beloved “Ce-Ce”, Heath’s “old-man”, and the truest best friend that this family has ever had!

Casey, we love you. I’m sorry you were hurting. Thank you for staying with us for as long as you have. Thank you for waiting.

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