Monday, October 22, 2012

Ready or Not


Monday, October 15, 2012 - 6:00pm

I wouldn't say my life is an Excellent Adventure but it is unique in the fact that I landed here in China.

You see, I was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA, lived in Livonia for 12 years and the last
18 months in Nanjing, China. I have twice the number of legs than those of you who are reading this blog.   I'm pretty spectacular and worthy of all the petting I've received from my two-legged pack. Occasionally I let my Mom think that she's the pack leader but as you can tell from the way I carry myself and speak I do NOT lack self-confidence. 

I've always felt that commands were optional.

There have been rules, of course, and I have followed - most of them.

I am Casey Marie, a black miniature schnauzer, pure bred and pure sassafrass.

On a glorious Sunday in August 1999 I was adopted. My new family had a Mom and a Dad, an 18-year old girl going off to Michigan State University and a 10th grade boy on the junior varsity footall team. I started out being 'crate-trained' because everyone was gone during the day, but soon they came to trust me. This house had an expansive, wooded yard in which to play.  It was unfenced.  A week after I arrived the 'fence-guy' showed up, knelt down with wrench in hand, patted my little black head on my 4 pound body.  He smirked and asked, "Are YOU the reason this entire fence is being installed today?"

And so my life on a wooded Livonia court began.

I loved it there.

You see, I grew up surrounded by teenagers and parents who loved me to pieces. I wasn't allowed to sleep on their beds, though.  The rare exception was when one of the 'kids' came home from college for a quick visit. It was kind of a secret between us and I doubt that Mom ever knew about it.  

In order to go outside I had to ring the bells on the door and they came running.  So lucky me, they fed me and petted me and "ooed and gooed" when I did anything the least bit adorable. I couldn't go out in the big world without a leash, because Dad knew that all it would take would be for me to spot a squirrel or a rabbit and I'd be off like a shot. "Not safe," he said.

If they left me alone too long I'd let them know I was unhappy by throwing the pillows and/or cushions off the sofa. They sure got the message, but I also got scolded. Even so...

I knew they loved me.

They began calling me all sorts of pet names including "puppy girl" and "baby."  The one I like most is Casey Marie.  Mom thought I deserved a middle name since everyone else in the house had one. The middle name didn't come to a vote like my first name, Mom just deemed me Casey Marie and it stuck.

You know, I'm true to my breed because as a terrier I must be alert; it's who I am and it's what I do!  I know my territory, what is mine, who is mine and what is not and who is not.

To this day I am always "at the ready" at the door announcing any new arrivals. 

Every time a family member approaches any outside door I think to myself:

"It's about time someone took me for a walk, right?"
"Okay, well maybe after they sit for awhile and then get up, that's GOT to be the time we'll  go outside, right?"
"You know what?  I'm going to follow them around the house until they get the message."  This works 89.5% of the time in case you were wondering.

Only English was spoken in our household and here are some phrases I've learned:

"Casey - Come!"
"Wanna go for a Walk?"
"Where's your Baby?"
"Where's your Chewy?"
"What did YOU do?"
"What happened here?"
"Oops!"  (something has dropped that may be delicious & if it's bacon - SCORE!)
"Let's go see Cody"
"Where's _family member___?
"Go outside and Get Busy"

These words have served me well for many years.

I heard Mom and Dad chatting about "China this" and "China that" beginning in October 2010 but it didn't really register what could be next.   

One dreary winter day in March 2011, I was scooped up and air-shipped off to China to start another chapter in my life and the life of my owners (a.k.a. Cricket and the Big Guy.)  It was a bumpy trip and frankly, I didn't know where I was going.  After a 14-hour flight, I had to be quarrantined in a crate for 10 days and I lost 5 lbs.of my 20.  Eventually I was driven to my new home in Nanjing. I was thrilled to be reunited with my family and didn't even complain about the warm and soapy bath. Mom and Dad cleared a perch for me on our enclosed porch so I could overlook our street. Within 10 days I became the grand protector of a new castle with a walled yard in Masterland.   A complex named Masterland most assuredly needs someone like me to guard and protect the  palace - keeping strangers and CATS away from as far as my eyes can see. 

I like it here. 

"Life is Good!"

 There are several reasons.

  • There is a lady who stays with me when Mom and Dad are gone for any length of time. 
  • There are nice places to sniff and little man-made ponds with fish in Masterland.
  • My yard is really nice, too. I've never seen a squirrel or bunny rabbit, though.
  • There's even a little boy up the block who tolerates my sniffing most of the time.  Occasionally he's a bit fearful, which I get.  Not many girls have beards in his world. What can I say?

Knowing some Mandarin, is one of the advantages of my life in a multi-lingual home. So I understand alot of basic commands. Let's hope I get to use them now and then once I'm gone from here.

The 'kids' came to see me here in China in February this year.  I squealed with delight; they've come to expect it, you know.  It was a great reunion and the walks and snuggles were epic. The "goodbyes" were mushy.

I insist on a daily walk within our compound, it keeps me and my Mom out and about. It's my favorite part of every day. This Sunday was particularly fun, Dad came with us and held the leash.  I can't get enough of those kind of days, that's for sure.  It reminds me of being with my best friend Cody in Rotary Park woods near our house.  Michigan woods have trillium to tip-toe through in the early Spring, crunchy snow in Winter, crackly oak  & maple leaves in Fall and mosquitoes to escape from in the Summer. It was a glorious place to walk and run.

Lately, both my hearing and eye sight have lessened some, but I can still sense the homeless cats that walk by and let them know they are in forbidden territory -MINE. Occasionally I eat grass to soothe my tummy and aches come and go.  My legs don't like the steps in this place (what were they thinking?)  so Dad carries me up the 20 stairs when I refuse, if I wait long enough. 

That's my second favorite part of the day, when Dad comes home. It's so important for me to be "at the ready" whenever he walks in. I have a reputation to keep up and a family to love and protect. I'm convinced that's why I came to China.  Wait!  I think I hear the garage door opening, I want to be ready!

I know they love me.

The Following Day - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is Cricket/Carol with an email I sent out the following morning:

Subject:  Casy Marie

Everyone: Please accept this note I wrote to our ex-pat friends Kim and Niki as information about Casey.
Hi Kim, Niki and others:
Thanks for your heartfelt messages. We are in shock over the sudden loss of Casey Marie. 
We knew Casey was slowing down and had bouts now and then with wobbly legs not wanting to use our many stairs.
Tummy troubles recently, too. But then she'd rally and we'd be back on course.
Yesterday, being so beautiful, she and I went for a longer than usual walk, past Franziska's and over to the playground to wave at little Jack and his Ayi.
Casey wagged and squealed when Gordon came home from work at 6:00pm Monday, like she always does. He always makes quite a fuss over her which they both loved for 13 years. The tradition is that he
turns to me and in a very uninterested mumbly tone says.."Oh, hi," as if I were chopped liver. 
It was our joke about who he loved more, of course. I'll miss that...
At 9:30pm she began to hyperventilate when we came up from watching a show in my sewing cave. She was on her perch and breathing hard.
That is when I began to text you and Niki about vets in Nanjing. Thank- you for probing and getting the best information for our puppy.
We set up the Ikea poang chair in her little room and I planned to sleep in the chair, keeping an eye on her. In the morning we would take her to one of the suggested vets and probably make one of the toughest decisions of my life.
We stroked her....Gordon had a special spot and I had another. Both favorites of hers.
The labored breathing continued. I called our Livonia vet who wasn't immediately available but would call back.
We timed each breath, noted her stiffening legs, painful sighs & little pink tongue. By 10:30pm she was gone. No decision to be made by us.
Neither one of us had been near an animal during this process, although it did mimic our experiences with terminally ill parents, sadly.
Dr. McQueen called at 2:30am, and I had to tell her she was gone. She hadn't seen her in 18 months, of course, but with Casey's age she felt it was probably organs shutting down either from a chronic disease of her liver, kidneys or heart. In other words, old age.
She was a spoiled little one, independent and vocal, but never hurt any 2-legged creature....but look out rabbits and squirrels!
I just walked back into the house and she was not here to greet me...I am very sad.
Thanks everyone...I know many have been through this....but we have not...hurts like hell.
We will be bringing her ashes home to Livonia to bury in the yard and her favorite woods where we would walk with her best friend, Cody.
Hug those you love never know...
CAROL (& Gordon, too)


Dear Blog Readers:

I waffled about writing such a personal story in my blog.  I thought, that people didn't need to hear "all that." I thought my readers would wonder what this has to do with our 3-year assignment in China.  But I wanted it chronicled, saved and duly noted. This is real life and real life has bumps and challenges no matter where we live.   Losing Casey is a bump and a challenge.  She was family. She loved us with exhuberance and joy and we loved her, too.

It is surreal that we are half way through our assignment - 18 months behind us and 18 months ahead of us. We will always have memories of our "puppy girl" being part of that first half, making our home trill with a familiar cadence. Pets do that.

Several of the entries in Cricket's Voice include Casey in story and photos so to have her just disappear without mention just didn't suit me. It's a story that I had to express.
Those who have experienced similar losses and much grander ones have willingly shared their pet-loss stories. The Big Guy and I appreciate the outpouring. We are grateful for every note, hug, thought and prayer. Those who were physically present to help us through will always be considered heaven sent.

Being there while Casey suddenly and peacefully slipped away at the end was one of those "God moments."  We realize just how fortunate we were that night.  I hope she felt loved right up to the moment she left us.

We will always recall 13 years of loyalty and love with Casey "at the ready!"  
That's the best we can do.

As Casey Marie says in her note:

"Life is Good!"

Thanks to Rita for the following sweet poem about the Rainbow Bridge.

Thanks for Reading,


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