Saturday, June 24, 2017

First impressions and hunger pangs

Year-old Casey trolling for collectibles on Bellingham Bay
Casey, aka Quantum Leap Bob, was a traumatized mess. After sorting out the paperwork that accompanied his travel crate we found that he was seven-months-old, not ten-months as we were originally told. We were also told that he had been fed Purina One, and that unfortunately was true. A plastic bag full of this low grade adult dog kibble was taped to the top of his crate. The breeder obviously spared no expense when it came to nourishment. No wonder Casey appeared malnourished. A dinner consisting of puppy kibble, supplemented with decent organic chicken, was devoured in short order. Then our new family member gave every impression to be retiring for the evening, completely sated for no doubt the first time in his life. In less than an hour though our guy awoke from a dream-state to do a faceplant in Victoria's TV tray dinner, before crashing for the night. 

As it turned out, Casey, by nature or by nuture, would never be a picky eater. And who could blame him?

An appointment with our veterinarian in the morning would be the first step in what would turn out to be a long recovery for the kid, both physically and psychologically.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017


A year-old pooped hiker.
Not the best first impression, but after a quick, nonchalant piss by the back door - the only indoor accident he ever had, by the way - Casey accepted the fact that he was home. 

 Swapping the submissive role as the timid runt of a litter of seven on a farm in the middle of nowhere for the revered status as a joyful arrival with a fenced-in backyard in the Great Northwest had to be a relief for our half-starved new charge. After all, his nose was OK, in spite of getting zapped, and his new feeders were doting all over him.

Cautiously at first, Casey eventually devoured his first meal under his new roof. He was obviously going to be an excellent eater. How long we wondered had he been settling for the leavings of six siblings.

Vic and I noticed right away that Casey appeared to be emaciated, barely twenty pounds. And he was seven months old instead of ten. His paperwork clearly indicated that his birthday was December 7, 2007. Obviously Casey (Bob) had not been the pick of the litter. And who wanted to deal with a fearful, timid Border Collie in a farming community. 

But things were looking up. We'd see to it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The next chapter in our life was about to begin so it was crucial that Casey's introduction to the leader of our pack Victoria went without a hitch.  The plan: Vic would arrive at home shortly after I got our boy settled.  Treats on the front porch for the meet-and-greet. CharlIe Bears are usually a sure thing.

"Mom" passed through the house and approached a bewildered Casey at the backdoor threshold with an outstretched hand.  A soothing, irresistible, almost lyrical "Hi, little guy" prefaced her Charlie Bear bribe as Casey cautiously went for the offering.

Finger tips to pink and black nose, practically face to muzzle.  Just as we'd planned...until Vic and I heard the snap of static electricity, generated from her glide across the living room carpet.  This best laid plan resulted in our new kid frantically looking for a way out of the backyard. From berm to berm, bush to bush, Casey was probably wondering what he had gotten into.  And just what kind of people were we anyway?

In spite of this inauspicious start, after several anxious moments, careful, very careful, coaxing - I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, little boy - resulted in a group hug on the end of the deck. The first of thousands.  We were a pack.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


First photo of "Bob" surveying his new home
After detailing the pet carrier, as well as its bewildered occupant, the Prius started its commuter trek north. I wish I would have been able to take a photo of my stoic passenger's profile, focusing on Interstate 5 straight ahead from his carrier as if entranced.  It occurred to me then that several hours earlier this little guy had never seen a highway, and even two-lane roads near his farm in Kellogg, Minnesota were at a premium. What he must have been thinking.

A couple of hours later we were in Bellingham, Washington.

Home was a single-story rambler with a fenced back-yard, and a front yard just large enough for a Frisbee toss - a must for a Border Collie - on the southside of town. Environs that didn't come close to resembling Bob's free-range existence on the farm. He seemed underwhelmed as I set up his carrier in the living room. A sliding-door opened onto a backyard deck, and after I had finished configuring his new digs I found our boy perched stoically on the far edge glancing at every passing bird and digesting each new sound.

Less than a half-hour later I heard his new mom on the front porch. This ought to be good.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hitting the road for home

Casey's last romp in Minnesota with Mom
A short walk around the tarmac with Bob was no where near as comforting for our urine-soaked Minnesota refugee as I was hoping. There was no sign that this little guy had been traumatized by his flight, but he had no intention of relieving himself after his six-hour trip (including a stopover in Minneapolis). A sniff here, another there, an occasional glance at Pacific Highway traffic, and rarely acknowledging the existence of the big guy on the other end of the leash.

It was time to hit the road for home, but first thing first. My new charge was in dire need of a bath. After removing smelly, wet debris from his carrier, I installed it in my Prius for a side-trip south to Federal Way. For the record, his water dish was dry, a plastic bag of adult kibble (Purina One) was taped to the carrier top, and paperwork accompanying the crate indicated Bob was actually seven-months-old, all red flags for mistreatment. A discussion for later.

One thing for sure, Bob would be in his forever home in a couple of hours. Before that though, my daughter-in-law Ernie would soon be the first of the tribe to meet the kid, urine or no urine. Some introduction to the family. No where to go but up.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Chasing Molly memories

OK, so now the die were cast. We were ready to bring another excentric puppy into our lives. Well, ready or not this little reject from a farm in Kellogg, Minnesota was as good as on his way. But before we go there, a little background.

Annie 1990
Victoria and I were first introduced to Border Collies in 1995 by our good friend Marsha, who owned two incredible girls Megs and Katie. To say we were impressed is such an understatement. Complicating matters that year, we lost our 15-year-old cockapoo Annie in the spring and were looking for another exceptional dog, just as irreplaceable. Then our quest was expedited by Vic suffering a nasty leg break. Focusing on a loveable rehab partner was an integral part of the search. The more we looked the more we realized that an inquisitive, active Border Collie would be a perfect match.

Marsha, Megs, Katie, Vic and Molly 1996
TThat fall we found Molly, and we immediately fell in love. She was a dynamo that kept us on our toes, even setting the agenda much of the time for almost 13 years. Our family and friends loved her. The total package. For the rest of my career Molly lived on both coasts and was up for anything - running, hiking, Frisbee, herding and she absolutely loved baseball. I couldn't drive by a Little League game without stopping to let her watch. We even went so far as to dvr a Seattle Mariners game for her to watch on television during each off-season.

Molly 2002

Molly B was a joy. Oh, she had her issues like all of us.

And we had never felt a sadness like the one we felt when Molly died of colon cancer. It became a hidden dread that I locked away in my psyche for almost a decade. 

Never spoken about again until this year. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Long-distance rescue?

All the signs were there. Vic had seen it coming ever since I first saw "Bob" on the Minnesota breeder’s site. And after I’d returned from my status call - just to see how he was doing, mind you – I must have looked pathetic. “Just give her a call back and tell her we’ll take him. You know you want to.”

“Seriously?  You sure? Really?” Not wanting to push the issue or take any chances I was hearing things, I was hitting redial for the breeder as I was heading out the door of the quilt shop.

To this day Vic has always said the look on my face before she gave the go-ahead to call, just pathetic. Never regretted it, particularly not now.
Arrangements were quickly made to fly our guy to Seattle, ETA one week. It could have been sooner but Vic and I had made plans to stay with our friend Marsha at a B & B on Orcas Island for a couple of days, a delay we would second-guess for years.

So…I’d done everything up to now that I had been told to never do when looking for a dog. I began my search before I’d even stopped grieving for the loss of our beloved Molly; I found our new dog on the internet without personally checking out the breeder; and I had him shipped by air to the northwest. All red-flags in any dog adoption or purchase process – and I’d never recommend our plan of action to any potential guardian - but something was telling me that time had been a thief up to this point for Bob.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wheels turning

Calico Creations Quilt Shop
OK, so where was I. And what exactly does a Mt Vernon quilt shop have to do with Casey's Worlds anyway?

So, after wrapping up our visit to the Skagit Valley Highland Games...the Border Collie competition was over anyway...Vic and I headed over the West Side Bridge and the Skagit River to city center's First Street. That gave us enough time to ruminate over the competitors, especially the young male collie, and of course Bob's status. It was about time to check up on him again. He had to have been adopted by now. Are you starting to get the picture? Vic was.

Our first downtown stop was Calico Creations, a quilt shop that Vic could have spent the rest of the afternoon in. She had to have sensed that I was distracted while I was feigning interest among the racks of fabric.

"Why don't you give the breeder a call and see how he's doing?" Vic had that look. She knew my grown-up creds were on the verge of crumbling for our reject in the Heartland.  

"OK, someone must have taken him home by now. Be right back."

I was back inside in ten minutes after finding out that my Minnesota distraction was still for sale, and there had been absolutely no bites. "He's just not outgoing enough, kind of timid." Incredulous at this news, as well as her dispassionate update, I hung up and trudged back into the quilt shop. But the wheels were turning.

Friday, March 10, 2017