By Millie Baker Ragosta

My brother Bud inherited our father’s love of dogs. His wife Barb and daughter Krissie do, too; there is always at least one dog on the premises.

When Dad’s 86th birthday came around, he was seriously ill and realizing our 79-year-old mother would not be able to look after him and his aging dog. So he gave his dog Towser to Bud and Barb.

Bud knew this would be Dad’s last birthday, so he bathed and groomed old Towser and carried him back to visit with his beloved master. It was hard to tell which of the old gentlemen enjoyed the visit more.

Shortly after Dad’s death, Towserd died. When Bud’s little beagle was killed and Lady, his big collie with almost human intelligence, died, Bud—heartbroken from all the loss—swore he’d never have another dog.

Then someone told them about a beautiful Labrador retriever whose small-town homeowners had fallen in love with an adorable puppy, only to realize the rapidly growing dog’s genes were making town-life with inadequate exercise a bad thing for the owners and the dog, Casey.

Bud and Barb thought about that big dog’s need for all of five minutes. Then they abandoned their former decision to forego owning another dog and took Casey into their home — and their hearts.

It’s hard to tell whether Casey is a dog with a permanent smile on his face or an amiable Black Angus calf. Casey believes with all his huge heart that God created him just to love humans, and Casey enthusiastically complies. After his initial “getting acquainted” visit to Barb and Bud’s house, Bud said, “Well, old boy, I guess you’d better go outside for a bit now.”

Casey immediately went to the back door, waiting until Bud could open it. That touched Barb’s tender heart. “Just a minute, Bud,” she said. “Don’t you even think of putting that dear, old boy outside until I give him a great, big hug.”

To their astonishment—and delight—Casey sat back on his haunches and smiled with canine dignity until Barb crossed the room and embraced him.

Now, he absolutely refuses to go outside until he’s gotten his hug from Barb.

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