Although Cassi started out timid in regards to food, over the years you would never know it. Ridgebacks are one of those breeds that you are cautioned against leaving any access to food. Cassi was no exception. Once while I was bringing in groceries, she helped herself to a box of unopened microwave popcorn, meticulously licked the wrappers clean, and pooped kernels for a week. Another time, I had run downstairs to the laundromat to switch the clothes, and when I returned moments later, a giant bowl of M&M’s was half gone. The remaining M&M’s were soggy and covered in fur. Twice during dinner parties, she helped herself from the food table – the first time at a friend’s house she brought down a plate of burritos, the second during a bridal shower she stole sushi off of a tray, right in front of me. At a baby shower I had last year, she took a croissant from a toddler. She ate anything that she found in the car, from restaurant leftovers, to beverages in the cup holders, to cough-drops. She could not be trusted!
Her ferocious appetite was curable, my uncle once said. “If you leave her food out, she will quickly realize it is always available, and she won’t feel the need to overeat.” We tried it. And for a week she gorged herself, so much so, that her stomach was distended and she farted with every move.
Other than her over-eating disorder, Cassi was a great dog. I’m a terrible dog trainer, but she still would sit when I asked, come when I called, and she never jumped or licked. It all just seemed to come naturally for her. Thank goodness.
Cassi was also a little protective of me, and could get jealous. When I was petting other dogs, she would wriggle in-between us and nudge my hand until I was petting her instead. If I was talking to someone for too long, or reading, or watching TV for too long, she would bump my arm with her nose until all attention was on her. This was especially the case when I had a full glass of red wine in my hand.
Her most jealous, protective moment came when I married my second husband. It was our first night in our new apartment after the wedding. Cassi was, or at least at the time I assumed she was minding her own business in the corner, chewing her nails or something. In reality she was likely avoiding us, as we were about to find out what she had done. As we crawled in bed for the night, my then-husband laid is head down on his pillow, only to find it cold and soggy. Cassi had managed to carefully pee only on his pillow, with not a drop on the mattress or any bedding. I was equal amounts horrified, impressed, and proud. My Cassi was attempting to mark her territory, and let him know that she was not impressed with the new living arrangements. However, it was less funny the following night when she did it again. It was several months after that before we trusted her near the bed.
In addition to Cassi’s quirky idiosyncrasies, she was a great companion. She was a comfort through some hard times, and she was a happy face to come home to. She was content to just be in the same room as me, curled up on a cozy blanket. And she loved to ride around in the car all day, traveling far distances on road trips, or just running errands around town.
And so Cassi filled my life with humor and happiness, and I tried to fill hers with comfort, security and love. On her last visit to the vet, as the doctor sedated her before putting her to sleep, I laid on the floor next to her petting her head, playing with her ears, and talking to her. I wanted my face was the last face she would see, and mine the last voice she would hear, in the hopes that she knew how loved she was up until the very end.
Thank you for bearing with me through this. It has been a difficult experience. I am glad, though, that I got to spend Cassi’s life with her, and I’m glad her life was full and happy, and had a peaceful ending.
Stay tuned for regular blogging to begin again. I have stories and photos for you, decorating and design inspiration to share, and lots of other random thoughts to express.