Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kasey: The First Matriarch of Our Pack

It would be a year until another senior Golden found their way to us.  It was June of 2003, and I now refer to it as "the year of the dogs" because we officially adopted 4 dogs from the rescue by the end of September.  I was still serving as President of the Golden Retriever Rescue and someone was needed to pick up a Golden that had come into a shelter in Stafford County, Virginia as a stray.  I wouldn't be fostering her, but I would be taking her to the family that would be.  The shelter estimated her to be about 9 or 10 years old and had given her the name 'Happy.' She and I met like we were old friends.  I would tell everyone later that the beautiful white faced Golden jumped into my van and into my heart that day.  I was immediately taken with her and called the foster home coordinator and asked I could foster her.  The answer that was given was an emphatic 'no' and so I took her to her foster home.

The foster home would rename her 'Lily' and while she was in pretty good health, she had a puncture in her sternum that had become infected and surgery would be needed.  I wouldn't see Lily again until afterwards when she was being groomed.  All cleaned up, she was even more beautiful. At the time dogs were not being micro-chipped and it was not unusual for them to be tattooed as a way of permanently identifying them.  While being groomed one was found on Lily's stomach with what looked to be a social security number, and the letter 'K' after the numbers.  A friend of mine contacted the state police to see if the number could be connected to someone, but no information was found. Lily's past life would remain a mystery.

It would be a several weeks before I would see Lily again. To this day, I'm not sure how it happened that I needed to go to the foster home that had Lily, because they did not live particularly close to me.  All I can think of is that fate played a card.  Because when I arrived at the foster home, I found out that Lily wasn't getting along with their dog, and she was being kept in the garage all day and night.  Of course this was totally unacceptable and so without offending the family or causing hurt feelings I convinced them to give me Lily.

So, Lily came to live with us.  While I had been totally smitten with her in the beginning that all changed when the honeymoon ended.  She wasn't house trained and she was constantly getting into the trash.  Added to that, she didn't listen or really respond to me.  Lily also had a borderline obsession with tennis balls.  I think she named every single one that we had.  She was always nudging me to throw it for her.  At the time we had birds and they were another obsession; it became life threatening for them to have her around.  So, needless to say, I just didn't feel that Lily was going to be a fit for our household and so I made her available for adoption. The calls came but in the end, no one seemed to really want her.

However fate had something else in mind, and played yet another card.  Lily became very ill with pancreatitus.  My having to take care of her, created a bond between us.  One day as she was sleeping on a dog bed next to me, I was thinking about the letter 'K' that was part of her tattoo.  At the time it was a practice for breeders to tattoo a letter indicating a litter or a name of a particular dog.  With that in mind I started saying 'K' names to her.  I tried several and there was no response from her.  Then I said the name 'Kasey' and she put her head up and looked at me.  Just to make sure it wasn't a coincidence, I would try several more times, and each time she responded to it--With that, her name became Kasey!

With a name change, good health, house-training all worked out, my bond with Kasey continued to grow. What I had felt the moment I met her became even more clear, and I knew I couldn't part with her.  We officially adopted Kasey in September of 2003.
~Our Gang in 2003 (left to right) Ben, Josh, Kasey, CarrieAnne and Wendy ~
Kasey was a real gem that had only needed a little polish.  Her classic looks and personality were all a Golden should be!  I loved taking her with me wherever I went.  She seemed to attract attention because of her blonde coat, white face and tennis ball that she always had in her mouth.  She would drop it at your feet, back away and wait for you throw it so the game could begin.  She was a perfect dog to be taken on home visits for the rescue because she loved children and other dogs.  At one home visit she was taken upstairs by one of the kids in the home and proudly returned with a cat box lid around her neck--Apparently she'd stuck her head inside the box and gotten caught on the flap when she pulled her head out.  She was always good for a laugh!

~Kasey (left) and Wendy~
Kasey found her place as matriarch of the pack and was respected by all the dogs.  She and Wendy were the top dogs in the pack and become companions to one another.  She was also a mentor and stabilizing influence for Rudi.  By the time we moved to Golden Pines in 2007, Kasey was probably about 14 years old and she was starting to slow down.  Walks that at one time had to be on lead, could now be off leash because she wouldn't venture very far.  We would start our walks all together, and she would eventually lag behind and I would leave her to do whatever she wanted.  Afterwards I would come back and find her laying in the grass, waiting for me to help her get back to her feet and we'd walk back to the house.  Kasey loved living in the country.  She especially loved the front porch and spent as much time there as she could.    
~Rudi and Kasey (right) on the porch~ 
Kasey's story would end in the fall of 2008.  I don't remember the date, but I remember that I was off work, and it was a Thursday...I woke to find her laying on her bed, and she was unable to really stand.  I sat with her for a long time and talked to her.  I told her again that day what she meant to me, and how much I wanted her to stay. But Kasey seemed so tired, and I knew it was time to let her go. Kasey's loss was felt throughout the pack.  There would be 'adjustments' in the Peking order as Wendy took her place as matriarch, and Rudi became the undeniable pack leader.  Kasey was our 'first girl' that we sent to the Rainbow Bridge and was truly unlike any dog we've had.  Every day of the 5 years we had her were truly a gift, and I will never forget the summer day when Kasey jumped into my van, and into my heart where she still remains today.


  1. Your dogs are so cute!
    We had three golden retrevers. The last one (Gucci)died last winter and I miss him every day.

  2. How nice of you to have 2 blogs. Especially one dedicated to your senior goldens. Looking forward to reading your stories. Love them.

  3. Hi Kim - wonderful story on Kasey and how your pack evolved. There really is something special about seniors. Awaiting your future postings.

    Nadine & goldens Neeli & Elle

  4. Woof! Woof! Golden Happy to see from you profile while accessing your blog that you created a new blog.
    Golden Thanks to get to know more about the Senior Dogs at the Golden Pines.
    Sending Lots of Golden Hugs n Kisses. Lots of Golden ALOHA n Woofs, Sugar

  5. have been blessed.Thank you for sharing.

  6. This was a wonderful read, Kim. You took me back to your days with Kasey and I could feel the love n camrederie you shared come alive...
    Kasey was truly a very beautiful girl and am sure she was a joy to be with..