Happy endings are a thing to be celebrated, even when they are a long time coming. Casey shared with Leech Lake Legacy the story of how Whitney found her way into his life and how they found a happily ever after together. Whitney was adopted quickly as a puppy, yet found herself homeless again as a young adult until meeting Casey. Their story shows us that the long way around is sometimes meant to be and can be a good thing in the end. Here is their story in Casey's own words... October 2018
Today is the three year
anniversary of the day when Whitney wandered into our lives, so it seems like a
good time to share her story. I want to include EVERY POSSIBLE DETAIL, but that
doesn’t make for great reading, so I will try to restrain myself and keep it
entertaining and full of dog pictures.
Saturday, October 3,
2015 - About 10am I woke up and headed downstairs to make breakfast for my Girlfriend
and me. I don't remember why, but something made me look out the window (in
hindsight, I probably heard barking), and I saw a large dog leaping at the
white picket fence in the front of the yard - from inside the yard. I thought,
"Huh, a German shepherd. I wonder how that got in?" I assumed one of
the fence gates had gotten left open somehow, and I went and put shoes on to
check it out.
I opened the door, and
looked out. Rear gate – latched. Front gate - latched. Dog - gone. I started
checking the yard to see where the mystery dog could have gone. I found
it on the other side of the house, in the narrow run between the house and the
8' privacy fence of the neighbors. I had it cornered, and it was
frantically trying to come up with an escape route - clearly it had not had
good experiences with people lately. Out of options, it tried to rush
by me, and I managed to grab it by the dirty, worn collar that it had on.
It was still squirming
to get away, but I managed to walk it up to the side steps, and take
inventory. It was filthy. It was gaunt. It was starting to lose
hair on its haunches.
It was Whitney:
Whitney the Stray.
This was clearly an
animal that had been on the street a while. I didn't want to let her go, and
have her possibly leap over the fence to freedom, I didn't have anything to tie
her up with, and I didn't have the keys to the garage. I couldn't bring
her into the house because I had no idea what would happen with the two cats
waiting inside, and goodness knows what she might be bringing in with her.
So I called my GF, who
was asleep in bed in the house. In real distance, only about 20 feet away from
me. I told her that I found something in the yard, and needed her help. She
uncertainly agreed to come downstairs and help.
The collar the dog was
wearing had a single tag, and I remembered from growing up and finding stray
animals that it usually was a tag for a vet, and if I called them and gave them
the number on it, they could find it in their records, and contact the owner. This
one was for the Animal Humane Society Community Outreach program.
Being Saturday morning, the AHS wasn't open, so I left a message with my info and
the dog's info. Now what?
A little while later, my
GF blearily appeared at the door. I explained the situation - dog found,
needs help, think we have any food for it? She went and started pulling
leftovers out of the fridge. A piece of pizza? The dog scarfed it
down. Fried egg and ham on an English muffin, with cheese? (a specialty I
was working on) The dog inhaled it. Uh.... orange pieces? The
dog ate those too.
Starvation staved off
for now, we debated what to do. Once it knew food was an option, the dog
calmed down significantly. I took the photo above, and posted it to my Facebook
wall, as one does. Unfortunately, we had an event happening that day which
the GF had helped plan, so she couldn't punk out. I considered bringing an
unknown dog to the event, but decided against it - in hindsight, it probably
wouldn't have been that bad (although we didn't have a leash or anything).
Since we couldn't let
her in the house with the cats, we ended up locking her in the garage. It
was October, so I wasn't too worried about it getting hot, and it was a secure
place. I left her some water, and moved a big couch cushion and some blankets
out there so she had a place to lay.
Stuck in the Garage
We ducked out of the
event as soon as we could, and hurried back to the dog. She was
still uncertain about people, but seemed happy to see us. The next thing was to
get her chip checked. We called the vet, told them the story so far, and headed
their way. Neither of us owned any dog things, and I'm pretty sure we used
a cat leash.
The dog was surprisingly
well-behaved. She was excitable, but generally stayed with us on the
leash, and got in the car willingly enough. We put some blankets down,
and loaded her into the back seat.
First things first, they
checked for a chip, and she was indeed chipped. They contacted the folks
she was registered to, and they declined to come claim her. The vet tech
looked heartbroken when she told us. The owners had apparently given her
to a family member, who had given her to someone else, who had moved out of
state, and definitely wasn't coming to get her.
We also learned her name
We felt bad for this
sweet dog, abandoned and friendless, and decided we would help her get back on
her feet, and then see about getting her adopted. So, on with the rest of
the vet visit. We gave the vet the go ahead to do whatever was needed to help
get this dog back up to 100%.
The vet checked her out
and found she was generally healthy, but significantly underweight. She
was 61 pounds that day, and we were told that while you should be able to feel
the ribs through the skin, you should not be able to see them while she's just
Without knowing her
medical history, the vet helped us cover the bases. It's been a few years
now, so I'm not sure how much I remember accurately, but I know we put her on
broad-spectrum antibiotics, and I think we did heartworm pills and flea/tick
pills just in case. We didn't want her to be banished to the garage
forever, and didn't want to expose our two old lady cats to any new problems.
We asked if they could
clean her up - perhaps trim her toenails, and give her a bath? She was
absolutely filthy, and again, with the cats, we couldn't bring her inside the
house for a bath.
The vet techs agreed,
and took her in back to do some scrubbing. When a tech brought her back
out, she told us that if we did end up putting her up for adoption, there would
be a fight between her and one of the other techs over who would get to adopt
her. She was already winning hearts and making friends! They told
us that when they try to wash dogs, many will fight or try to escape, but
Whitney just sat with a resigned look, as if to say, "Okay, this is what's
happening now". She was a good dog.
She also was an
expensive dog. It was fairly late when we finally got to the vet, and
they were on "Emergency Room" billing. The vet had tossed in
what freebies and perks she could, but between the ER fees, the various meds,
chip transfer fees (because if she ran off again, we wanted her to come back to
us), license fees, and the grooming, our free dog already cost several hundred
dollars. I don't remember the exact figure, but I do remember having a
moment of sticker shock, and then thinking "well, that's what credit
cards are for". Thankfully, the GF had a little room left on her
it because she was a good dog, and clearly needed help, and we were doing
the right thing.
With our pockets a bit
lighter, and our hearts a bit fuller, we headed home with our new friend.
The treatments would take a few days to have any effect, so she was still
relegated to the garage.
I eventually learned that I was never
going to make fetch happen.
this, things start to speed up. We'd been instructed to feed her puppy
food (which has more calories) three times a day, in order to get her weight
up. I went to our local Cub Foods and bought some basic dog supplies the
next morning. After a few days, we introduced the dog to the cats.
She was fascinated! The cats did not reciprocate the feeling.
Eventually we invited her into the house. We started keeping her in a
crate when we were at work or sleeping, and gradually gave her more
freedom. She HATED the crate when we went to bed, but with time and
patience we all learned to deal with it. There were a lot of late, sad,
whimpery nights for a while.
Meeting Lucy the Cat
We stuck with the name
"Whitney", because she responded to it, and it seemed to
suit her. She knew basic commands like sit and come. We worked on
recall a bit, and before too long, she and I started hitting the dog parks.
I still remember all the
uncertainty from the first time we went. I had never been to a dog
park. I had no idea if Whitney had ever been to a dog park. What
would she do when I first let her off the leash? Would she just run and run,
anxious to return to being a free dog? Would I have to chase, corral, and
catch her again to get her home?
As it turned out, she was pretty well behaved. She
was so afraid
of losing me that she usually wouldn’t get out
of sight. When she did, she'd come back after a little while to make sure
I was still there. She was fairly good around
the other dogs, but was always looking for someone to chase with. She's
obsessed with squirrels, and I'm fairly certain it was one of them that led her
into the yard in the first place - although I'm still not sure how.
I call this picture “do you see what I have to put up
When we returned to the
vet for a 1 week checkup, she was up to 72 pounds - that's 11 pounds gained in
a week! We were encouraged to dial back the amount we were feeding her,
but continue what we were doing elsewise. She eventually got to be out of the
kennel at night, and shortly afterward, got invited onto the bed. She and
I became good buddies.
First in a long line of dog selfies.
Right around the two
week mark, it became fairly clear that we wouldn't actually get rid of her
again. She had wandered into the right yard, and accidentally found a
Three years later, she's settled in nicely. Her weight has
plateaued around 100 pounds, and I joke that she's about 30% more dog than she
was when she showed up. She's gotten fiercely protective of her things and her
people, now that she has things and people. We're justifiably spoiling
the heck out of her.
Whitney, Queen of the toy pile.
The GF and I eventually
broke up, but we both love the dog, so we're doing our best to share her.
Now she has TWO homes, that lucky dog!
I try to get her to the
dog park at least once a week, and walks around the neighborhood every day. The
neighbor kids all love her, and they crowd at my house and clamor for her when
they see me come home from work. She's larger than most of them are, but
she's very gentle, and they trust her. I tell people she has her own fan club.
So that's the story of how
Whitney found a home, and I became a dog person. I can't imagine ever
having a home without a dog again.
They steal your heart, and then steal
Happy Anniversary, sweet
girl! For people with rescues, they often call it "gotcha" day,
but we didn't really "get" her, we found her... So I've decided
it's Whitney's "FoundHer Day".