Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly feeding on Miss Huff lantana flowers in our yard


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"Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected   
culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy
is unfortunate. What's one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on?
A dog or cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully."
~ Jon Katz, American journalist, author, photographer, and dog lover
This year in particular, people around the world have found immense comfort in having pets when their world suddenly shrank during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who already had dogs, cats, or other animals got to enjoy them more as they worked, learned, and sheltered in their homes to avoid getting or spreading the deadly virus.

Who wouldn't be happy to have these sweet girls for companionship while sheltering
in place??  Holly (L) and Casey share a bed in the kitchen.  (4-12-20)

Many folks who didn't already have a pet set out to adopt one for company while stuck at home except for trips to the outside world for essentials. Some animal shelters ran out of dogs and cats for the first time ever, and many reputable breeders had waiting lists for months or years.

During the last several decades seven lovable, comical Labrador retrievers have given us comfort, even in very good times. We miss the four who are gone. Now Casey, Holly, and Don are the center of our lives in retirement, as anyone can tell who has followed this website or my social media pages for any length of time.

Labs are chowhounds, and they have clocks in their stomachs! 
Casey is in the foreground, Don back L, Holly back R.  (2-4-20)

In the past fifteen months I have featured entries about Dapper Don the most because of his status as a potential guide or service dog in training. When Southeastern Guide Dogs released him unexpectedly in early April, 2020, we were grateful to be able to adopt this special pup. He's very bonded to me, a total Velcro Dog like none in the past, even sweet Cody, and since I'm the one who walks him every day I've got a lot of pictures of him.

That doesn't mean I love Holly and Casey any less. I spend a lot of time with them at home. This entry focuses on them, although Don is in some of the photos, too, because they are a tight Lab pack.

Above and below:  Holly (L) and Don are especially close because they are both young and like to play
together. Don loves balls and getting on the beds since his release from guide dog training.  (9-10-20)

Casey and Holly are special, too, and specifically chosen for us by their breeder, Deep Run Farm, in Virginia. These English Lab girls were both eight weeks old when we brought them home five years apart and they were (still are!) both exuberant Wild Childs.

Casey, age eight, is from the Siskel-Easy litter born in August, 2012. She has her parents' thick, curly hair and somewhat stocky English build.

Casey's long, curly hair and wooly undercoat take a while to dry after a bath.  (4-5-20)

Ch. Belquest Deep Run Easy Peasy, her dam, is a shiny black Lab. She had outstanding show credentials, as did Ch. Robnie's Two Thumbs Up at Moonlit AKA Siskel, the sire. Siskel is a handsome yellow Lab. At least two of Casey's sisters, Black Dahlia and Lemon Squeezy (can't make this up!), became show dogs and breeders, too.

Holly was born in June, 2017 so she is three now and still the most puppy-like of our pack despite not being the youngest. (Don's always been an Old Soul.)

Siskel is Holly's paternal grandpa, which makes Holly a niece of Casey. Holly's handsome yellow Lab sire, Jonathon, is one of Siskel's boys and also a champion show dog (conformation). Her mama Cassie, also a yellow Lab, has champion hunting titles. Holly inherited her mom's petite, athletic build and love of retrieving.

Holly with the new Jolly Ball she and Don got for their early June birthdays

Although we've never sought any AKC obedience titles for Casey and Holly, they make wonderful pets for us. They are both lovable, happy dogs with mostly good manners.

Their main faults are overly-exuberant greetings and some reactivity to other dogs when they are on-leash. They get along well with other dogs in a dog park, our back yard, or other fenced area where they can play off-leash.

One day when I was walking Don near a large grassy area I dropped his leash so he could play with his girlfriend, Maddie, another young yellow Lab. Jim came up unexpectedly with Holly and Casey and decided to let them loose, too. It was a madhouse for a couple minutes as the four happy Labs played together! In the next picture he has hold of the girls' leashes again:

L-R:  Holly, Don (foreground), Maddie (head showing next to Holly), and Casey  (10-22-20)

Casey is especially lovable, like Don. If Casey wasn't so exuberant she'd have been a good therapy dog. I keep hoping she'll calm down but at 8+ she's still impulsive and excitable.

Holly's not as good with body handling but getting more huggable as she gets older. She's a manic retriever and would probably have been a good hunting dog if we were hunters -- and a good runner if we still ran.

Unfortunately, we found out recently that Holly has elbow dysplasia in both front legs. Our vet, a radiologist, and an orthopedic surgeon say she inherited the problem and it wasn't from chasing balls. She had surgery in November to remove a bone fragment in one elbow. The next five photos were taken November 20, the day after surgery:

Looking like a flower child in the flexible cone 

Playing quietly with Don; quite a large area of her L. leg was shaved,
and another small spot on her R. leg where an IV was placed during surgery.

Surgery site

Above and below:  At 3+ years old, Holly still mouths and cuddles her stuffed puppy.

At the end of December Holly still has some limited range of motion in that leg but it is improving. The vets say she should be able to resume some running and more active play later this winter. She's not happy with no ball chasing, so for now we just toss the ball to her to catch instead of retrieve.

I had trouble winnowing down the number of photos I wanted to share of Holly and Casey so this entry is two pages long. Enjoy!


Unlike Don, both Casey and Holly love water, from puddles to lakes and streams. We don't let them get into water much around Peachtree City because of all the herbicides and pesticides that people use but they can enjoy our kiddie pool and some places where we hike.

Casey cracks us up because she tries to "catch the fish" on the bottom of the kiddie pool:

Holly's about to jump in to get that ball on a warm day last February:

Casey even likes baths:


Note her tongue sticking out!   (10-13-20)

Both girls like to walk or run through puddles on walks:

Holly was standing in a puddle when I took this picture.  (10-20-20)

Occasionally I let the dogs get into Line Creek when we hike the trails there, but only where the water is running fast and not stagnant:

Holly at Line Creek Nature Area on her birthday hike  (6-2-20)


Holly went to this park with us in August but we didn't go down to the creek that day.

I took pictures of her with Don on a bench overlooking the historic ruins of the Old Manchester textile mill:

On a pretty day in late December we took Casey and Don to Sweetwater Creek and got the obligatory "bench shots" with them above the ruins, too:


That day we hiked the White Trail loop past a spot that skirts a good place for an off-leash swim in the wide creek.

It was the only time this year that Casey's been in water deep enough to swim, and Don was even motivated to get into the water with her (he doesn't like getting his feet wet!). In the next two photos Casey is the one who's farthest out in the water:


The next photos of Casey and Jim are on different parts of the White Trail loop:



Every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, we take the dogs a minimum of a mile on the cart paths and residential streets in Peachtree City. I usually take Don and Jim takes the girls, sometimes twice a day for up to five miles total.

These photos of the girls are from a few of the walks where I've taken them:

Above and below:  Holly looks focused!  (two different walks in April, 2020)

I often walk by this bench next to one of the ponds on the cart path. Our neighbor had it built and installed in memory of her late husband. It's one of her favorite places to sit and watch waterfowl and a big blue heron that call this pond their home much of the year:

I like to get pictures of all three dogs on the steps going up to kids' slides at little city parks. They have fun climbing the steps and it's good conditioning for them since we don't have any stairs at home.

Holly has such a serious face sometimes!  (1-28-20)

Holly looking like a winsome puppy at age three  (6-23-20)

Holly alert to something else, probably a dog she'd like to play with!  (5-2-20)

The city parks were all closed for several weeks in March, April, and early May due to the pandemic. Fortunately, the cart paths remained open for people to walk, run, bike, and ride their golf carts.

I stopped near the shelter at the park below for Casey to get some water on one of our walks. You can see the caution tape around the picnic benches and the playground equipment in the next photo:

Casey hydrating at one of the closed parks  (4-18-20)

I took this picture of Casey on the long set of steps to several slides in that park in October. She likes going up and down the steps, too:


Above and below:  The playground equipment was taped off in this park in April, too,
but the stone wall surrounding it was open. Casey's happy expression is so sweet!

All the dogs love to ride around town in our golf cart.

Casey and Holly are in the back of the cart in this photo because I didn't go on this ride; Don was in front with Jim. Holly doesn't look particularly happy but she loves to go for rides.

When both Jim and I are in the front seat, little Holly rides on the seat between us and Don rides in back with Casey.

Continued on the next page -- more photos of sweet Casey and Holly (some with Don in them, too)

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don

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2020 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil