This morning we said goodbye to our beloved Cassie-she had been with us since 1998 and was almost 16 years old.

Cassie could have been a cat in terms of having multiple lives. She came from Newark, NJ, where she was picked up as a stray. For those of you familiar with Newark, you know it's amazing she lived through that experience. She ended up in a shelter in Newark which was one of the worst we had ever been to, and she was described as a "stray aggressive dog". We were going to the shelter to pick up two other Pei, and when we got there they told us if we took the two we came for they would throw Cassie in. She had nowhere else to go. They had no idea what a gift they gave us that day, and that was the beginning of our relationship with Cassie.

At first she was part of our rescue back East, and we had hoped we could place her, but that didn't happen so she made the trip to CA with us and seven other dogs. Four of our "kids" flew with me, and the other four went on a road trip with Rich. Cassie rode shotgun on a platform that Rich built for her. She always was our protector, and when a toll taker in Oklahoma reached towards the car Cassie tried to take his arm off! We all made it safely to CA, and Cassie was allowed to roam the six acres when we were out with her. She could run like the wind and loved chasing any kind of critter. She could almost climb a tree after a squirrel, and it was a joy to watch her enjoying her life and having so much fun.

All was well until 2003. One day while we were all outside, Cassie just went down. Dr. Larry came out and told us she could not even feel pain-she was paralyzed, but there was no diagnosis as to why. She spent a few days at our vet's office with no improvement. We knew we were going to be faced with making a decision as to how to proceed with her care. During this entire time, Cassie did not give up so we could not give up on her. It was not her "time", and it was as though she were saying "you've got to help me-I can't find my legs". Her only chance was to go to UC Davis for an evaluation. On the way to Davis we did not know what the outcome would be. Once there, it was determined Cassie had blown a disc, and even her surgeons there did not know if she would ever walk again. We elected to do the surgery. Cassie spent three weeks at Davis after the surgery with her own physical therapist learning to walk again. She came home with us and we had nine more wonderful years with her.

In the past year, Cassie's ability to get around and her health was declining. She was having trouble with our three steps to the house so we had them rebuilt to make four more shallow steps which made it easier for her to get up. Actually at our age it made it easier for us too! More and more she was stumbling and slowly losing her appetite. Last night it became apparent that she no longer had a good quality of life, and we made the very painful decision to have her put to sleep. Dr. Larry came out at 6:30am this morning to allow her to go peacefully and with us at her side.

Cassie was truly a miracle, and as much as we feel her loss today we also want to celebrate her life. She came to us at two years old and gave us 14 years that made our lives better for having her. She was truly a gift that kept on giving until she could give no more. She was a fighter and never gave up the battle until the battle could just no longer be won. We have 14 years of wonderful memories to reflect back on and those memories will remain in our hearts forever.

RIP Cassie