5 min read

The Girls -- Meet Cassie and Dottie


I remember it like this.

The husband came home one Friday singing the song "Sisters" from White Christmas. I didn't think much about it. The husband's older brother had a penchant for musicals and he had seen a lot of them growing up. It's something we have in common since my father sang opera and in musical theater most of his pre-married-to-the-scitzophrenic life. (My mother was too paranoid to let him continue after they were married.)

We had lost our darling dog Rose in May, 2015. And suddenly, there was a gaping hole in our lives. Before losing Rose, we'd talked about getting another dog. We'd even gone through the extensive screening for the local Vizsla Rescue.

But we still didn't have another dog. We knew of the intense need for homes for dogs. I am friends with Amy McCracken, who runs the Richmond Animal League, RAL. I hear about animals who need stable, loving homes every single day. I know about abused dogs, old dogs, injured dogs, and even those from dog fighting rings, through the amazing work they do at RAL.

We had this gigantic hole in our lives. We had time. We had a loving home. We could take on another dog. (Note the singularity of dog.)

Anyway, imagine the scenario -- husband singing "Sisters" and the weekend beginning. Because we had been talking about getting another dog, he sat down Friday night and opened all of the dog rescue sites -- every single one. The first one he went to was the Denver Dumb Friend's League.

And he saw the picture above.

You can call it fate or soul attraction or maybe just a little bit of insanity, but he felt drawn to these dogs. Being a scientist at heart, he then spent most of the weekend trying to talk himself out of these dogs.

Nothing took.

His heart had already decided. The girls in the photo above belonged with us. We rushed to the Dumb Friend's League as soon as he got home from work the next day and adopted them.

They were skin and bones when we got them. They had clearly been horrifically mistreated which has left them with a variety of issues including PTSD. They'd nearly starved to death.  They'd arrived out of Santa Fe, NM without a story or even a "where did you come from." The simple truth is that we don't know.

What we do know is that someone found them. Someone fed them, talked to them, retrieved them from wherever they had landed. Someone had put them on a shuttle to Denver Dumb Friend's League.

What we know is that somehow, some way, they now live with us.

Meet Cassandra (Cassie):

Cassie on the couch

Cassie is a beautiful dog. She is smart and funny. She learned right away how to make us laugh. She's also learned all the basic dog stuff -- sit, stay, come, and even does a good job on the leash.

She currently is learning how to help me in the kitchen. This is no easy task for her as she has a huge prey drive and struggles with food guarding. None the less, she has found a spot in the kitchen and works hard to keep me company.

Cassie on her spot, Dottie looking on

Her coat is black with a brindle of red running through it. When we are out in the sun, people stop to look at her. She's grown in size and muscle since coming to live with us.

She needs so much stimulation and exercise that I've taken to riding with her on my bike. She does really well with the WalkyDog bike attachment.

Meet Dorothy (Dottie):

Dottie in the car

When Dottie first came to live with us, she would only respond to the whole saying of her name: 'Dor-o-thy,' like Auntie Em talking to her Dorothy. She has learned her name and how to sit. Everything else is pretty hard for her.

She looks like a small black Labrador. She has the same brindle stripping that Cassie has, but it's on her underbelly and her feet.

She is simple, loving, and very sweet. She loves pretty much everything, but particularly her sister, Cassie, especially if she gets to wrestle.

When we first took her to the dog park, she shivered in terror. She gets lost in her head, so we have to keep an eye on her at all times when we're out. Over time, she's becoming more comfortable. That said, I was confronted by other dog owners recently about my "terrified, lost dog." My assurances that she's getting better didn't help much.

Suffice it to say, Dottie is overcoming her fears and getting stronger every day. She's learning to check in with us, and we're learning ways to ground her when her mind is caught in some PTSD fugue state.


She is very shy, and a total youngest child. She will snatch away a favorite treat or toy just to get Cassie's attention.

Of course, if our tempers flare, Cassie puts her body between Dottie and us. It's very sweet.

The Denver Dumb Friend's League said the dogs were four years old. Our vet says they are not yet one-year-old. They were not potty trained but they are getting pretty good.

They are still growing in height and still getting teeth. They've each gained about ten pounds since they came to live with us.

An animal behaviorist told us that she didn't think Dottie would have survived if she wasn't adopted with Cassie. I'm sure that's true for Cassie as well.

We still miss Rose -- sometimes gut wrenchingly terribly and sometimes just a dull heart ache. That's the way of grief.

And we're delighted to have the chance to love and live with Cassie and Dottie.

Change is life, and life is change. Cassie and Dottie are a pretty great change in our lives.