We said goodbye to our wonderful dog Cassie this week. It was a terribly hard and upsetting decision, but she was failing, and her quality of life had deteriorated to the point where we knew we had to make the right decision for her. We are at peace. She lived a good and long life for a dog. But we are also incredibly sad.
Cassie was a pound puppy. We got her at the Thomas J. O’Connor animal shelter in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the summer of 2001. The police had picked her up after finding her tied to a tree in a trailer park in Chicopee, and no one would claim her as theirs. She had been in the pound for only a few days when I saw her on Petfinders.com and suggested we go take a look.
She was skinny, dirty, and overly excited. Harvey and Maddy were skeptical, but I was in love, and I knew right away that she was sweet and gentle and loving. And I was right. Cassie never once growled at a person or a cat, and she only growled at dogs if they invaded her space, which wasn’t very often. She never, ever hurt anyone. She loved everyone. When we told family and close friends that she was gone this week, everyone described her as loving and sweet and gentle.
Our vet estimated that she was about a year old when we adopted her at the end of July, 2001, so we assigned her a birth date of July 31, 2000. She took almost no time to adapt to living with us. She was clean and playful and smart. She could run like the most graceful of animals. The first time we took her to the beach, she ran all the way up a high dune. We raced after her, fearful we’d never see her again, but there she was waiting for us at the top. It took a long time before she was ever let off the leash again.
Cassie was with us during that dreadful fall of 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11. She was such a positive distraction. When my family, all shaken still by the events of that September, gathered for Thanksgiving, it was Cassie who made us laugh. She was still new and puppy-like, and she’d run from one member of the family to another, excited and happy.
Once she settled in, she became calm and unflappable. No matter where we took her—to the Cape, to a new house, to a temporary apartment before our new house was ready, to our cottage—she adapted almost instantly. We even once dragged her all the way to Geneva, New York, so she could visit Maddy at college. She was great in the car, great with children, and great with us. I often felt badly that she was growing up in a home with no small children since she would get so excited any time she saw a young child. And children loved her. She would kiss them, and they would hug her.
About the only thing she didn’t like were elevators. Can’t say that I blame her. She liked going to the groomer, she liked going to the vet. She liked strangers, she liked anyone. She didn’t bark at people at the door or those who entered our home. She never jumped on people or pushed them around, despite the collie herding instinct. She was definitely not a watchdog. She was a love dog.
And our cats Smokey and Luna adored her. From when they were little kittens, they would curl up on her, and to the very end of her long life, Smokey still treated her like his mother, kneading his (clawless) front paws into her belly and nuzzling his nose into her fur. The only thing that seemed to light up Cassie’s eyes as she declined was Smokey. She would even chase after him a bit to play.
Cassie was an incredible companion—on long walks in the neighborhood or the woods or the beach (even though she didn’t love the beach much) and just being with us in our home. She was always right there with us wherever we went. I can’t tell you how much we will miss her and how much we agonized over her decline and our final decision to give her peace. But she had been there for us, and we had to be there for her.
So we are at peace. She is no longer distressed and confused, and we can look back with deep love and gratitude for the fourteen years we had her with us. Goodbye, Cassie. You will always be our dog, and we will always keep you in our hearts.