Friday, February 10, 2017

Memorial Support for WHS

Casey has so touched the lives of friends and family, as well readers of Casey's Worlds it's no surprise at all that Victoria and I have been asked if there is anywhere they can send a donation to his memory.

As monthly sustainers of the Whatcom Humane Society, caring and rescuing animals since 1902, we have already set up a file with the WHS staff to handle such commemorative contributions.

Donations can be made online  or mailed to the Whatcom Humane Society,  2172 Division Street, Bellingham, WA  98226. Be sure to specify that your gift or donation be made "To the Memory of Casey McLaren Marx" (or just "Casey"...they'll know who you mean).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Moving sentiment from "across the pond"

Today, in a Facebook chat from London, a good friend indicated that she had just heard about Casey.  I'm certain she wouldn't mind me sharing it. 

Gene, I've only just found out that beautiful Casey has gone. I'm so, so sorry. I've been there as others have. My dad still has a tuft of our lovely Sky's fur in a gold box. I miss her still and the 17 years of joy, mischief and love she gave us. She looked like a black version of Casey. The pain is deep I know. I read your blog; heartbreaking. I'm reminded of the poem Byron inscribed on the tomb of his beloved dog, it's in the book I gave you. The last two lines say it all: 'to mark a friend's remains these stones arise, I never knew but one - and here he lies.'  Sky sometimes comes to me in my dreams. My personal belief is I'll see her again, but whatever yours is, Casey's love will always be with you. Big hug from across the pond xxxxxx

Alison, lovely, lovely. Hard to read such beautiful sentiment without tearing up. I believe that Sky and Casey are swirling around together in the multiverse somewhere, and their spectres will never leave us. Nor would I want them to. Thanks so much for the hug.

I like that idea Gene, we know energy never dies so theirs is still in form somewhere and their love is still very much alive. Eternal hug xxxx

Winter glint

January 20, 2013

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


It looks like the snowpack Whatcom County has been dealing with for a few days will be history after tonight. It was always great while it lasted as far as Casey was concerned. 

Here's one of our favorite pictures, from about four years ago, as his guardians invoked  adult status, calling an end to the frozen fun. But he did "help" them complete a deck igloo.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

OK, I guess this is home.

One of Casey's first photos in his new backyard - Summer 2008 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Missing paw prints in our snowfall blanket

Regretfully, spectres aren't able to leave evidence of their presence. This view of the front yard would be more healing if it was mussed with paw prints. Casey would certainly have already talked me into a subzero Frisbee toss by now.

December 21, 2016

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wake up snug

January 31, 2017
Casey's eyes in this last picture at home seem anxious to me. What did he sense? What was he feeling? He obviously needed Stella. 

What do our pets try to tell us when they're ill? 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Altered state: Always brother and sister from different species

Last year, Casey, as always, vying for space by the fire with Stella

There are times in Casey's Worlds when words are probably superfluous.

This morning.

Casey's presence will likely be felt by Stella - in her indoor universe - for a lifetime.

December 22, 2016

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Tribute

It’s snowing.  Casey loved the snow.  What an amazing, coincidental backdrop to this tribute to our boy.  It’s almost like he had a hand – well, paw - in it.

Who am I trying to kid?  There was no refuge in sleep tonight, but at least I can attempt to come up with a Casey’s Worlds post without crying.  One more for the kid, for now.  He’s been a loving intrusion to my every conscious thought anyway, ever since Victoria and I watched a clinician administer by IV a merciful overdose of Propofol. 

Time stood still until an ER doctor’s stethoscope could no longer detect a heartbeat, ending our boy’s suffering, while jumpstarting ours.

It’s just now starting to hit me how rapidly Casey went from catching Frisbees on Monday to gasping for breath on Wednesday afternoon.  No visible, at least apparent symptoms until a suspicious lethargy, accompanied by a shocking unsteadiness set in around noon.  Something was wrong, and this time we were nowhere close to overreacting, as had been the case in the past.  And we weren’t waiting.

Thanks to an opening at Fairhaven Veterinary Hospital, Casey’s lifelong veterinarian was able to conduct a thorough exam, but he wasn’t satisfied.  Dr. Mark Kummer needed a blood scan and set of x-rays.  This just wasn’t the Casey he knew.  And he seemed to have detected an almost imperceptible flinch near his stomach.  An hour later, the first bad news - abnormal red and white cell counts, and worse, an x-ray image clearly showing a mass on the spleen, with another less definitive spot on his liver.  His resulting, palpable concern was urging us to get an ultrasound as soon as possible.  Our best option was an emergency room triage, including an ultrasound and surgery if necessary, within a couple of hours, at the VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle, almost an hour and a half away in Lynwood, Washington.

Vic and I had no way of knowing it then, but we were literally in a race for life.  Casey was bleeding out internally, in the back seat of his favorite mobile kennel, from suspected lesions. 

Thanks to Mark, there was a team waiting for us.  By the time we arrived, our boy needed to be carried into the clinic.  The first priority was getting him stabilized after an ER exam confirmed not only the suspected bleeding, but several tumors on Casey’s spleen, as well as a spot on his liver.  The shift doctor advised that surgery wouldn’t even be a consideration until stabilization – his pulse rate was 70 and going south.  She didn’t come out and say it, but the vial of blood she was holding, withdrawn from Casey’s abdomen, as well as her body language, telegraphed every pet guardian’s worst fear, that is, the final compassionate solution.

In lieu of a worst case scenario, we insisted on seeing the results of a morning ultrasound.  We hadn’t heard the words cancer and malignant yet, and Casey deserved a shot.  He was settled in, sedated, and on his way to being stabilized.  And after all, we were only discussing the possibility of Hemangiosarcoma.  Right?  Let’s see what the ultrasound turns up in the morning.  Most of these spleen masses are benign.  This one had to be.  We had come this far and we had never let Casey down and weren’t going to start now.  We went to our boy’s clinic bedside, told him goodnight and to be good.  He watched us leave and our long sleepless night began, with cautious, though tenuous optimism.  While I usually think hope is for losers - not this time. 

At 1:37 in the morning the duty veterinarian called to report that Casey received a blood transfusion and seemed to perk up, even coaxing belly-rubs out of the staff.  The perpetual love-junkie’s vitals were good, the bleeding was stopped and his clotting would be checked all night long.  Hopefully, one transfusion would be enough.  The relief clinician would be in at 4:00am, and no news by then would be good news. 

There was no phone call, but no sleep either.  Casey memories and inevitable what-ifs, a mélange of joy and the bittersweet, deflected any semblance of much needed oblivion.  And we each conceded to our relentless processing of decisions to be made the next day, as we both tossed and turned and cried quietly in the dark.

The next morning – incredibly Thursday, February 2, and Casey seemed fine twenty-four hours earlier – I rushed to check on our kid.  A devastated, swollen-eyed Victoria was opting to wait for the radiologist’s arrival.  When Casey was led into a visiting room, my momentary - admittedly unrealistic - optimism was crushed at the sight of my Methadoned, nearly spiritless best friend.  Lying on a shared blanket in the middle of the room was therapeutic, at least for me, but Casey had been sedated nearly to the edge of disinterest.  His ears twitched only once or twice to “Momma” and “Frisbee” as I stroked and inhaled his essence, while burying my face his once glistening coat.  Shortly later I told the tech it was alright to return my boy to the ER.

The ultrasound results, as well as our follow-up meeting with the treatment veterinarian came much too quickly.  That’s always the case I suppose when the odds are stacked, but Victoria and I had decided to take Casey home.  Even if palliative care only bought him one day or one month, he deserved to die at home.  We were ready.

We were ready, at least until the ultrasound findings were summarized.  The readings were explained in detail.  Our resulting questions were answered, options discussed.  Numerous tumors on the spleen, with the liver likely involved but not definitively.  Metastasis was a certainty.  Yes, a splenectomy was survivable, but the prognosis was dismal.  Canine spleen cancer is incurable and undetectable without an ultrasound. Nothing we could have done had we known.  The guardians and medicine had done everything humanly possible…except make that last dreaded decision.  We were told Casey could die before we reached Bellingham; and then “death by HSA” was explained in detail.  The painful, reverberating worst case scenario echo chamber subsided and we were able to opt for sanity, our last gift to Casey - a simple, peaceful surrender to an endless slumber, without the nightmares of a rescue dog.

I hope the faithful readers of Casey’s Worlds have excused my therapeutic ramblings by now.  I’m certain some of you have been there.  You might even be in tears as I am, as you finish this post.  We’ve dreaded these inevitable bouts with the multiverse, even when our friends were stealing our hearts as puppies.  I will always choose to believe Casey was blessed, in spite of his relatively few trips around the sun.  Victoria and I could never come close to repaying him for the joy, and life, he brought to our earthly existence.  We devoured it like addicts, from his first morning wake-up nudge, to his early farm boy turn-ins at night. 

As an abused rescue dog, Casey taught me about healing from day one.  Right now, as always, it’s as simple as one foot in front of the other.  And don’t forget the Frisbee.