Who is in the photo at right?
I’m Caryn Casey. I am co-owner of a company called Much More Than Me and a writer specializing the past several years in dog rescue issues and stories. My book, UNDERDOGS: Valuable Information and Stories of Transformation is a culmination of this work; part storytelling, part resource. This photo represents what I refer to as a “mommy sandwich;” both dogs on either side: Legacy our Border Collie mix, 12, to my left and Impulse, our toy Poodle (just shy of 11) to the right.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I rise early in the morning to feed both Legacy and Impulse their breakfast. Organic coffee from charming local café, San Marco, is brewed in the kitchen, and my girls follow me back to my bedroom where we cuddle on the bed and I begin work on the computer. Some days we disperse and it is just me with a cup of vanilla infused coffee and my work, but I love it when they are near me.
It can sometimes be Green Tea but usually a mild organic decaf blend prepared by Nahir at San Marco Café in Burbank, CA. and brewed at home.
Any goodies to go with the coffee?
Since I drink it in the morning, there are no treats. Those would need to come later!
Any treat for Impulse and Legacy on this occasion?
Their bellies are usually full from their breakfast, so they are content.
How were you and your dogs united?
Fate brought us to both dogs in opposing ways and distinct ways. After deeply mourning the loss of our first beloved dog, Rafferty, I felt if there was to be another dog in my life, it would need to be one with special needs. We adopted Legacy through Homeward Bound Dog Rescue in Minnesota; she has deformed front paws and a background that included mistreatment. I have often said, Impulse came to us in a way that would never happen again. Ten years ago, we purchased her from a pet store after I felt an almost indescribable and immediate attachment to her. I had never purchased a dog before that in any other way than through a rescue. I didn’t know then what I have come to learn about puppy mills and what I was supporting at the time by buying her, but she has had some health issues, including becoming blind and I feel in my heart she was destined to be ours.
How did Impulse and Legacy get their names? Do they have any aliases?
Legacy’s name was predetermined even before we saw her. I knew that in order to honor Rafferty for all that she had meant in our lives and for that desire to keep on loving future dogs, our next pup would be named Legacy. And so it was. Impulse, well, as I described, we did want a play mate for Legacy, but the circumstances of her coming home to us were rather impulsive (another thing I do not advocate!)and she was so tiny and imp-like. Legs, Legaloo, and Leggy, which has nothing to do with her paws, are the usually nicknames for Legacy and Impulse has too many to mention, most of them ridiculous and random and often contain some kind of vegetable or soft cuddly animal. (Sweet-pea, pumpkin, lambkin just to name a few.) I do refer to both of them as “Bups,” which is embarrassingly short for “Bunny Pups.” It’s a kind of sickness, I think.
Do your dogs have any influence on your writing?
My dogs have everything to do with my writing. As I have specialized the last several years in writing about issues related to dog rescue as well as the celebration of life-altering stories when adoption is done well, my dogs fuel my passion to not only want to help others make better choices for dogs, but my gratitude for them helps keep me emotionally anchored when I am faced with so many sad scenarios or seemingly hopeless situations in my work and writing.
Where is their favorite place for an outing?
They love our lake home in Minnesota; riding on the boat with their fur blowing back in the wind is always memorable, but generally they still get visibly excited daily when it is time to go for a walk; at the park or in the neighborhood are equally wonderful.
Squirrel, cat, postman...?
Impulse would ask them in for a cookie, Legacy would scare them away with her bark alone.
Tennis ball, stick, squeaky-toy...?
Marrow bones are heaven, Kongs filled with peanut butter are crowd pleasers but neither chase anything, and if they did, they might run to it but we would have to go and get it and throw it again.
Who is each dog's best pet-pal?
I’m going to have to say in all honesty, our dogs are very bonded with my husband Jim, and love our daughters, Siera and Carlie, however, I am their best pal; we have loving, excitable reunions when I just come in from getting the mail.
What is each dog's best quality?
Legacy’s best quality has been in showing us that when trust is earned, positive, fulfilling change can come. When she first came home with us, she hid frequently and did not welcome a lot of attention, and now she relishes it. She shows us what she can do before we offer her help; she is beautiful, and watching her walls come down has been profound. Impulse is love. She embodies it with every cell of her body and gives it to everyone she meets; she has a body you just need to hold and a face you want to kiss during times of joy, but particularly in times of stress and sadness. My dog’s are my Achilles Heels.
If Impulse and Legacy could change one things about you, what would it be?
Live in the moment, life is good, all will be okay, and treats should be welcomed and encouraged.
What is each dog's proudest moment?
Truthfully, both dogs inspire pride often particularly due to their individual needs. Legacy has had a few surgeries on her paws/leg over the years designed to improve the quality of her life- nothing too invasive. She has never developed hard pads on the bottom of her paws so we have created special socks for her to wear sometimes. Watching her maneuver; her overall attitude of “can” not “can’t” makes us very proud. Legacy making her way down twenty somewhat crooked concrete steps to our dock, and her then jumping into a waiting boat is nothing less than amazing every time. (Of course we are right there to help if necessary, and both dogs wear life jackets.) When Impulse’s blindness first snuck up on her, she navigated her world in a way that defied her diagnosis of Progressive Retinal Atrophy. When she got cataracts on top of that in very short order, the veil sort of went down and we could see her learning to adapt. At first it wrenched my heart to see her bump into things, but then I realized she was still as happy as ever. Her ability to be the same joyful spirit despite daily challenges makes us very proud.
The most embarrassing?
I’ve probably embarrassed them far more than they have ever embarrassed me.
The dogs couldn’t be more different physically, but daily wear matching colorful bandanas to show their sisterly connection. Legacy’s gait is somewhat like Charlie Chaplin when she really gets moving, but a limp is also present depending on how she switches her weight. While on their walks, Impulse has always waited for Legacy if she gets ahead of her and that hasn’t changed one bit even with her blindness. She just stops, and turns back to look for her sister and to wait. People often come out of their houses to greet the dogs if they are walking in the neighborhood; newcomers are concerned Legacy has something caught in her foot, not realizing she is just fine, and those who know them smile and share a bit of wonderment at our “furs,” and how they navigate the world around them.
Visit the Much More Than Me website and blog.