By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
Casey was our 10-month-old pug who was going to be our last baby. People who know my wife, Veronica, and I know we’re dog people and, more specifically, pug people.
We settled on pugs after we got our second dog (the first was a Yorkie), Greta, a pug from responsible breeder in Louisiana. Greta was amazing, and lived with us for more than 12 years before she died.
Casey, sadly, died on Tuesday morning, probably from aspirating congestion during his sleep. We were, of course, crushed. Casey was a great little pug who we loved dearly.
Our other pugs – Ralph, Lily, and Peerey – are rescues.
If you have stayed with me this long, you’re wondering what in the world this has to do with politics.
Quite a lot, actually.
Peerey and Casey got me through the election of Donald Trump as president. I was physically ill that Wednesday morning after Trump was elected. I’ve been physically ill a number of times since. And it doesn’t seem to get better.
But those two pugs – one black (Peerey) and the other fawn (Casey) – brought joy to our lives when there, frankly, wasn’t much joy on the political front.
Casey had this wobbly walk, kind of drunk-like. He was learning to maneuver. He knew no strangers, like any decent politician, and he crawled into our hearts two weeks after he was born when we first met him.
When I was down, Casey was up. Always up. And we could count on Casey making us smile. Casey was named after my friend and former editorial page editor of The Birmingham News, Ron Casey. Ron knew more about Alabama politics and the workings of Alabama government than any official or politician in the government.
Unlike so many governors and legislators, Ron Casey, the man, always read the bills he was writing about. And he thought about them. And he knew why he opposed a bill and he knew how to suggest they be made better.
I learned a lot from Casey the editor, and he always made my copy better — like my current editor, my wife, Veronica.
Casey, the man, was full of life until he wasn’t. He died suddenly in 2000 at 48 years old after speaking to a journalism class at Samford University. Casey, the pug, was full of life as well, until he wasn’t this past Tuesday at about 2 in the morning.
Both Caseys lived shorter lives than they should have. One should be missed by everybody in this state who want better government; the other will be missed mostly by Veronica and me and a few close friends who got to know him.
Peerey, the black pug, is a loner, a rescue who came to us after his owners asked a veterinarian to have him put down (the owners’ granddaughter was tired of him, we were told). Peerey, indeed, would rather be our only pug. That won’t happen at the Kennedy Compound, so Peerey takes it in stride, but you are not likely to find him romping with the other dogs.
Peerey is a political animal, too. He’s named after one of my greatest friends, Richard Peerey, who is a retired Baptist minister in Virginia. I traveled to Cuba 12 times with Peerey, the man, from 2002 until 2013 (we went twice in one year). Peerey, the man, had a significant impact on my faith and my politics.
Peerey is decidedly a liberal politically, and a love-your-neighbor preacher when he preached. He believes, as Jesus taught, that we should take care of the least of these.
As I said, Peerey the dog is a political animal. During the debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last fall, every time Trump would speak, Peerey would take off down the hall barking and howling. Yes, howling. Like a tiny wolf. Well, not tiny for a pug – we call him the Chunky Monkey, a nickname given him by the vet tech at our veterinarian’s office.
Peerey does not like Trump, and he shows it. Sometimes I howl with him.
And while we’re discussing our kids, I must mention Lillian and Ralph. Lillian, a black pug, doesn’t care about politics – she’s old (about 13) and just ignores the noise, instead, making her own. She literally sounds like one of the Walkers on the AMC series The Walking Dead. (Veronica and I have joked about suing the producers of The Walking Dead for stealing Lily’s voice.)
Finally, Ralph is the old man. He’s 14 years old and a fawn pug. During this new Trump era, he probably has it best. Ralphie, as we call him — so serious most of the time — is deaf and blind. He can’t hear or see Trump. Fourteen is old for a pug, and we know we may not have him for much longer.
Certainly, we should have had Casey for much longer. Both Casey, the man, and Casey, the pug.
But in life, like baseball, there are many curves. Life ended for both Caseys when it shouldn’t have. It gave us Trump as president.
And as hard as it is sometimes, we must move on.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]