In Memoriam: Casey the Weasel Dog, 1990-2004

We regret to announce that Casey the Weasel Dog passed away on July 17, 2004. She took no one with her, as history suggested she might; there was no 40-car pileup as she ran across the interstate, no hotel fire after she knocked over an ashtray. In the end it was just cancer and kidney disease. Her decline was sudden, thankfully, and even in her last days she pulled hard on the leash and kept a wary eye out for mischief. She maddened and amused us for nearly 15 years, almost as long as we've been together. Life without her will be less colorful, less pungent, in some ways unimaginable.

A brief history: The Weasel landed in the Mason/Zowada household in August 1990, a gangly six-month-old Chihuahua-terrier mix with a sliver of evil firmly embedded in her tiny, vexed heart. She was a medical disaster. Our horrifed vet immediately ordered a series of expensive vaccinations and, alas, mange baths. She'd not been spayed, it turned out, and her first heat was like a scene from The Exorcist. In the first few months she cost us far, far more than any purebred would have.

We called her Evileen, Lady Wigglebutt, and Girlie, depending on her mood and ours. She was affectionate, sweet even, but she was also a gal who just couldn't help herself. As a puppy, no temptation was so faint that she could resist. In later years we marveled that anything so small could have destroyed so much. She went through an interesting phase in which she devoured only consumer electronics. The TV and VCR remotes were the first to go, and one day we found bits of a wristwatch scattered across the bed. The only recognizable part was the face, dented with teeth marks.

After letting her off the leash in a local park, we discovered something that would inform our relationship forever: She could run like the wind. She ran circles around greyhounds and foxhounds, whippets and Weimaraners. As she caromed down the street, a woman on the sidewalk looked at us and said, "Catch her. Please." We're trying, we panted. It took hours. We kept her leash handy ever after.

The Weasel loved people, especially women, but this world was her world and she could not understand why it should have so many other dogs. Impertinent rottweilers, Great Danes, and pit bulls had only to approach her too quickly, even just to walk in front of our house, and she flew at them, fangs bared. It was an ongoing embarrassment, but she was deeply territorial, and what she lacked in size she made up for in fury. Indeed, she loathed most anything on four legs. Squirrels gave her nightmares, cats sent her into paroxyms, and cows and horses she regarded as unholy grotesques. One night we had to pull her by the tail from a deathmatch with a raccoon.

In her later years Casey became well known in our San Francisco neighborhood. It was common to see her at the front gate getting treats and pats from complete strangers with whom she seemed to have ongoing relationships. People with their own mutts usually kept their distance, as the Weasel would throw herself furiously against the fence, but some saw through her bravado. Twice a day our neighbor Martha walked by with her dog and encouraged Casey to "sing" -- a sort of whining howl that drove us nuts -- in exchange for a cheese cube.

Only fireworks, thunder, and the cellphone's ring (go figure) made Casey afraid, and she respected only one dog, Snuggs, the family elder. For many years they were the yin and yang of our household: He was easygoing and affectionate; she, busy and distracted. She showed no such deference to Snuggs's successor, Franklin, whom she supervised, perhaps a little too strictly, for many years. As a puppy, he imitated everything she did, but he never mastered her knack for sheer audacity -- the sudden lunge for the appetizer tray, the stealthy exhumation of a neighbor's vegetable patch. And though he eventually weighed 15 lbs. more, he never dared to cross her. As we carried Casey out the front door for the last time, she leaned over to Franklin, curled her lip, and with a dying breath, growled.

"She was an opera singer," says Martha. "And with any star, you have to expect some attitude."

We've collected some pictures here.

Car Show
Guide School
Joshua Tree
Gay Weddings
Palm Springs
Anza Borrego
Folsom Street
Burning Man
Sierras Camping