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  • Members Spotlight: Casper

    Dave McKenzie

    I was born in New Orleans Louisiana, February 23, 1964. Shortly after this my mother and father moved to Port Hueneme, Ca. because my dad was in the navy, and now stationed at the Sea Bee base there. I spent my first 12 years of life in this wonderful community, Big Bear Mountains in my back yard, Pacific Ocean in my front yard, and fishing with my dad on the weekends, was a way of life, both surf fishing, and offshore. School was 1 1/2 block away, for a great walk everyday. First twelve years, I grew up with an adoption from the animal shelter, A Siberian Husky, named King. He was my childhood friend, and I learned responsibility for his walks, and feeding daily. In 1975, he passed away, but part of my heart was with him. Not only was he my companion, but we spent hours together while my dad was at work, He watched me grow up, as I watched him grow elderly.

    In 1976, my dad retired from the military, and we sold our home in Port Hueneme, and he started us in a new adventure, moving to Slidell, LA. Living in Slidell, and being a child still, I got to experience wildlife, and the insect population, wild snakes, alligators, mosquitoes, nats, red ants. Seemed everything was biting, flying, walking, or swimming. Again, waiting for the weekends for my dad to be off from work, fishing the weekends was still a way of life. We fished the lake, and the fresh water rivers, which were all around us, growing up. During this time in Jr. High and High school, I played football, & baseball. The swamp was in my backyard, not knowing then, the Legend of Big Foot, rested in Honey Island Swamp. My brother and I would used dip nets during the week, to dip crawfish, and bait hooks on the Pearl River, a very important part of life here, was learning to be a country boy, and surviving off of the land. Running trout lines by boat, was now an afternoon chore, fishing for Bass, Trout and Redfish was a passion, especially loved fishing for Sacalait, which is white perch. Spending so much time on the water, I got to know the residents on the waterways very well, and learned to check on them daily. Learning new fishing techniques, picking up swamp tips, and her lessons. Iíve always been very curious, and learned to ask a lot of questions. One question was in the fall when all the leaves fell off of the hardwood trees, except a ball of leaves stayed up in the trees. Swamp residents taught me this was Mistletoe, a fungus growing on the trees. Hopefully your familiar with mistletoe, itís the stuff folks kiss under during Christmas... Bells went off in my head, as we kids were always hustling to sell fish and crawfish for bait, or perform services including taking a job during the holidays, for Christmas money. Myself, I borrowed a friendís .22 rifle, which had a scope, I bought ammunition for $2.00, and proceeded back to the swamp. I learned to be very accurate with a rifle, in shooting a 1/4Ē branch connecting the mistletoe to the tree in half, then allowing the mistletoe to fall to the ground. I bought sandwich bags from my local grocers, in another swamp term, called making groceries. I would then bag the mistletoe by small bunches, and sell it in front of the grocery stores, roadside, etc... $1.00 a bag. Folks loved the idea, and I would sell easily, between 300 to 600 bags of mistletoe over the holidays, and often the buyers would tip me big, knowing the dangers of having to climb trees to get it, or for just being an enterprising young man. Either way, a week would be equivalent to $1,000.00, easily. A $1,000.00 paid for Christmas gifts, gas, and allowed me to purchase new and sometimes upgrade old equipment. No matter what, it allowed me more time on the water learning.

    In spending this time on the water, I got to meet Game Wardens, and different law enforcement officers, and was sometimes asked to help in search and rescue efforts, because I got to know the swamp so well. Also I knew the river like the back of my hand, so when someone drowned, I was asked many times about the surrounding areas, to help them find a body. We were always successful, earning me a reputation with law enforcement officers, and building a respectful relationship. I couldnít get over the idea, these guys got paid to stay on the water, and perform such effortless duties. As I got older, this relationship, allowed me an opportunity to join their Reserve division, which was a volunteer program. I did this after graduation from High School, at which time a full time job was offered. My family had ideas about college, and I had this interest of helping folks. In a sit down talk with mom and dad, they told me I would be attending LSU in the fall. I was the one whom had this great idea of, I would attend LSU, but wanted a degree in Criminal Justice, and a compromise was a suitable decision. Finishing my degree at LSU, my parents had this great idea of business law, whoa... I sorta kinda had the idea of getting into criminal law, the kind associated with a fishing boat, in search and rescue, No compromise this time as a full time job opportunity was again offered. This time I accepted. I was then sent to New Orleans Academy, I finished 3rd in my class, which prompted the Chief of Police to send me to every training class offered. My first two years was spent mostly class to class, and seminar to seminar. These classes were mostly paid for by federal grant money. Finding I was picking up on so much information, learning new techniques, It wasnít very long, and I was bringing my training back, and teaching those that learned by watching, and wasnít as good with information from books. I almost forgot, during my time in the academy, I had to learn to POST Certify on a firearms range. Remember the mistletoe and the trees with a rifle, well you got it... I shot at master levels, and impressed my firearms instructor enough; he got me accepted to the FBI Academy in Quantico VA. Again I found my niche, and it was in firearms training, and now SWAT Training. I loved my new job, and couldnít believe I got paid to do this stuff, even though it was a very low wage, it was steady money. After being in law enforcement and learning so much, I had met a lady on a call of a peeping Tom. We got to know each other fairly well, and the relationship grew, and eventually we were married and had a daughter. Both of us young, struggling to make ends meet, as most newlyweds, I was working my job by day, fishing, and working overtime, and so was she. Due to a later political decision at the government level, a show of muscle was needed by the Governor, to get the attention of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), in which the Governor in financial crises, cut out our state pay, which subsidized our regular pay, which was known as hazard pay. In light of taking a $550.00 a month pay cut, and struggling to begin with, I had signed an agreement with my department not to leave my department and work for any other law enforcement agency for a period of 5 years in the agreement they paid for my training. Caught between a rock and a hard place, luckily I had a friend in Orlando, FL, which worked for an airline which was connected to the federal mail. I submitted an application to Emery World Wide Airlines, and after they checked my references, was hired, contingent to moving to Orlando, FL.

    Upon moving to the Orlando area, I found a home in Cocoa Beach FL. and worked for this airline which is now known as Fed-Ex, and the mail I was associated with was the Post Office Priority Mail. During the day sorters sorted the mail, and in the afternoons, we loaded the mail onto the plane, and it flew to locations all over the USA, making deliveries. Marriage wasnít working very well after a few years, so we divorced in a mutual decision, in which my daughter asked to stay with me, and she did. I spent the weekends fishing with her, just as my dad did with me, also taking her to the skeet, range, and teaching her to shoot with a shotgun. My weekends were full!! My daughter, knowing I grew up with a pet, asked for the same experience. We did a little research, bearing in mind where we lived, having a fenced in yard, etc... we decided on a Cocker Spaniel. We did a little research on breeders, and found one we liked in Orlando, and visited her the next weekend. My daughter fell in love with a black Cocker Spaniel, with a white chest.... and named him Charlie.

    Charlie and my daughter got along fine, and Charlie occupied a lot of her time while I was out in the field working. As my daughter Erica was getting older and more involved in school, she asked one day that we consider a playmate for Charlie. Charlie stuck to her like glue, and was a very good boy. We thought about it, and this time I found a breeder in Knoxville TN, who had a red female. On one of our flights, I made arrangements to meet the breeder, and the puppy, and when we met, the breeder showed up to meet me, surprisingly she brought a senior female with her. The female wasnít producing puppies as she was expected too, not only that, but she was bread so much and so hard, that she was sickly. She passed a lot of her health problems onto her puppies, another reason the breeder was hauling her off to the vet to have her put down. I was in disbelief, because the senior was so sweet and so gentle, she had given so much life and happiness to everyone else, yet she had never received love herself. Now feeling guilty for making arrangements to meet this person, to find out, she was running exactly what I wanted no part of, which was a puppy mill. I struck a deal with this breeder that I would take the puppy, but wanted the senior too. She had the audacity to grant the request, but telling me I couldnít have her papers, to breed her. LOL My intentions were to purely give her a good home, no breeding, and nurse her back to health, and grant her the love she obviously never received. We agreed, and I took both females, the puppy and the senior. The puppy was named Bailey, short for Baileys Irish Cream, and the senior was already named, Blondie, because of her color, I kept her name, Blondie, my senior rescue.....

    Blondie was the most gentle lady I have ever been around, A TRUE lady. She helped acclimate the puppy into the house, she was very easy to potty train, and more than anything she was loving. All she wanted in life was some love returned to her that she had put out so many times, to so many others. Blondie was on my couch one day, getting her nap, hearing something from the puppy, she quickly sprung off the couch to go check on the puppy, in hitting the floor, I heard something, and Blondie was limping severely. I rushed her to my vet, to find out, in her jump down, she broke her hip. Surgery was required to make the repair. After her surgery, and with my schedule, Blondie stayed with my vet for an additional 3 weeks. In her healing process, my vet knowing I needed the help in my schedule and her needs. In preparations to surgery, my vet found a new complication, Blondieís heart would just stop for no reason, skipping several beats, then restarting on its own. Wheeew!! My vet took her E.K.G., sent it to the vet university hospital right then. A determination was made, and even though the vets confirmed, that it was a text book case, none of them had ever witnessed this happening in real life, until just now. They actually were doing her E.K.G., and playing it in an auditorium live, in Atlanta, Ga., while student vets could hear her heartbeat, extraordinary. Because of other health problems she had prior to me adopting her, we used experimental drugs for her heart, which opened the door to other problems. The problems, and her health, deteriorated with her age, yet I tried hard to give her so much love, and spending time with her, she was well loved. One morning I woke up, and went to the kitchen to make coffee, a few minutes later, I heard her nails on the hardwood floors, as she woke up realized I wasnít there, and sought out to find me. I was waiting on this precious little girl to find me in the kitchen, but instead I heard a thunk on the wall. My little baby during the night, had a stroke, and lost her eyesight. She was definitely a special needs girl. Still refusing to put her down, I carried her everywhere we went. When I sat her on the ground, she would sniff, knowing we were outside, and use the restroom. I then would pick her up, because she would freeze after using the restroom. Finally the day came, when I woke up, but she never did. A piece of my heart left the world with this little lady that morning. This was in 2004, my mom and dad were getting into their elderly age, and a lot of sickness was between them. My daughter and I spent a good deal of time in transit, from Orlando to New Orleans to visit my parents, and a lot of the time in the hospital. Emery World Wide Airlines, lost their bid for the postal contract to the Post Office, to Fed-Ex, which was an upcoming part of the mail service. Fed-Ex had their own people, already in place, and was not interested in hiring the over 650 employees that were sent to unemployment. In loosing the contract, I also lost my transportation of flying anywhere, anytime, with a swipe of my badge. This prompted me to sell my house in Cocoa Beach, FL, and move back to New Orleans.

    Getting re-established in New Orleans, LA. early 2005, and taking a job With Folgers, We rolled into hurricane season, bearing in mind I had been in Louisiana for most of my adult life. This was the first time I was faced with a Cat 5 storm steaming straight in on us. Direct hit to Slidell, as we actually went outside during the eye, and looked up to blue skies, before the back eye wall hit. Katrina flooded my home, 8 feet of water, many folks drowning in their homes, many more pets left behind to fend for themselves, most of them dying as well. The preparedness of our area to a Cat 5 storm was a learning curve, beyond the imagination. My Daughter went to Lafayette, my x-wife was in Picayune, Ms, and I was in New Orleans, hit hardest. Phone service was out, and so was the electricity for almost 2 months, in the heat of summer. We had no idea after Katrina came through, that there was already another storm named Rita in the gulf starring us down. The November after this storm season, and living in a home like everyone else, that was gutted out to the sealing, I lost my dad to lung cancer. The wind was taken out of my sails again. A year after losing my dad, and spending lots of time with my mom, right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, she passed away. Last year, I lost my oldest brother to diabetes, leaving only my younger brother and I.

    Finally everything settling down in life, and calming again. Iím at church one Sunday, in which a lady I knew often asking for prayers for her husband, faced with cancer. Her children were fulfilling a wish on his bucket list, of one day wanting to own an English Bulldog. June 2012, He was presented with Rocky, who was the runt of the bunch. July 2012, the same person was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The wife was working two jobs, making ends meet, since her husband was now disabled. Rocky was so rambunctious, in his young age, Rockyís human father couldnít get any rest. His mother knew from previous stories of the problems I went through with Blondie, she just wanted to find Rocky a good home. She invited me over to meet Rocky, said he was more of a manís pet, being with her husband through his puppy stage. I met Rocky, and Rocky took to me generously, I have no understanding why, but Rocky stuck to me like glue, and was very affectionate. He has become my best friend and companion.

    The last chapter in this story comes from Florida again. On 08/28/2012 a young man was born to a litter in Miami FL. 8 weeks later, a family in Orlando adopted his handsome young man, his name was Rambo.

    Rambo was raised in Orlando until last month. Ramboís family hit a hardship in life, loosing their home. Even though his human father and mother had family they could stay with, Rambo wasnít invited, and was a financial hardship to keep. His father posted a thread on EBN of what was going on, and wanting Rambo to go to a good home. Another member offered to take him, starting the ball rolling. Just before picking Rambo up, the deal fell through, leaving his human father with very few options. I still remember the last time I put my neck on the line for a pet, I was met with a lot of health problems and a hard time with her, but experienced the most love ever experienced by a pet owner. Knowing this father was desperate to get Rambo to a good home, and just prior to this happening, I was talking with a GREAT Breeder about a puppy he had. In talking about what I was looking for, he sent me pictures of the most beautiful little girl puppy imaginable, just before we could resume talking about her, Rambo became available. I knew due to my work schedule I couldnít pick Rambo up that week, but I could the following week. The family had to have Rambo in a home the week prior, Wow. Through the help of EBN, BellasMom was able to rescue Rambo just in the nick of time, as a matter of fact, while she was picking Rambo up, furniture was being moved from the home. BellasMom, handles the Florida Rescue, and with her help, completed the missing link to Ramboís rescue. She kept Rambo for a week, with her puppy Betsy. Both playing together all week, and BellasMom sending me updates and pictures of him the whole week, as I was keeping members of EBN updated on the progress. The following weekend, having a day off from work, I was able to leave home at 3 am in New Orleans, and drive to Lake City, Florida to meet BellasMom, about an 8.5 hour drive one way. Meeting with BellasMom and meeting Rambo for the first time, he was such a handsome young man, 9.5 months old. After a brief time of getting everything loaded from her car, to my truck, Rambo was securely put into his pet restraint, and the trip home began. Rambo on the trip home was very vocal, wanting attention from the start, LOL. I kept giving him water, and ice cubes, finally about half way home, the young man settled down, and went to sleep. After a grueling 9.5 hour trip home, the young man was finally home. (1236 miles) after getting home, and assembling his crate, getting him walked, and settled down meeting Rocky, we finally all 3 fell asleep for a long nights sleep. The next morning the two boys were awake in their crates, allowing me to sleep in. As soon as I woke up, the two boys, started playing together like brothers, or more like litter mates. From this point on, the two, Rocky and Rambo stick together like glue, since both have the names of Sylvester Stalloneís TV characters, and mentioned on EBN, weíve just called the young guys the Stallone Brothers.

    Do you like reading more about the members of English Bulldog News? Make sure you check out the Member Spotlights section from the Home Page!
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Marine91's Avatar
      Marine91 -
      Awesome article. @Casper you are a great man and have a wonderful heart.
    1. cali baker's Avatar
      cali baker -
      What a wonderful life story you've shared with us, Dave. You had me smiling, laughing, crying...loved reading every word of it!
    1. JAKEISGREAT's Avatar
      Awwww Man! Dave..this is a most amazing story. I liked you from the moment I "met" you on EBN..every post and story, only confirmed it..What an interesting life so far! And what a huge heart you have! The Stallone Brothers are two very lucky Bully's..and we at EBN are so fortunate you found us!
    1. JeannieCO's Avatar
      JeannieCO -
      What a wonderful story of your life so far Dave!! I, like Becky, liked you from the moment we met here. So glad you joined EBN!!! You crack me up and then are as real as real.
    1. FORDE'SMOM's Avatar
      FORDE'SMOM -
      @Casper hugssssssssss....what a nice story those fur babies are just adorable !
    1. Ftse 100's Avatar
      Ftse 100 -
      Dave what a wonderful story, you had me smiling and tears in my eyes reading this and the Stallone boys are both so lucky to have found you as you seem to be a very nice person with a very big heart. Thank you for sharing your life with us and for joining EBN
    1. ddnene's Avatar
      ddnene -
      What a wonderful story... Brought tears to my eyes! Your fur babies are very lucky to have found you ; )

      Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
    1. mavsfan4life's Avatar
      mavsfan4life -
      What a beautiful story @Casper!
    1. Davidh's Avatar
      Davidh -
      Thanks so much for writing the article Dave, great job and I enjoyed reading it.
    1. dolphin's Avatar
      dolphin -
      Wow, you've really been through a couple of lives there Dave. You are a good man with a heart of gold, thank you for sharing.
    1. Casper's Avatar
      Casper -
      Thank You everyone for your comments, and compliments. Pets have always been very important to me, although besides dogs and a few birds, that's about the extent of my pet experience. Back in the day, when your pet was sick, hurt, or in danger of costing money, taking them to the vet wasn't the kewl thing to do, unless you were putting them down. However, I never knew how you could look your loyal, loving pet in the eyes and tell them, or yourself, this pets too expensive, I need to put him down. I've always considered myself the kind of person to put myself in their shoes, and ask what would they do, Pets are lovable and loyal, they would never do that if the shoe was on the other foot, So I ask, what part of Love don't people understand, Could this be the reason for such high divorce rates, Seems humans love when it's convenient, unlike our pet counterparts, who love us all the time. How can you look into their eyes and say no, or even lie to them, which is lying to yourself. I couldn't do this to my child, and can't do it to my pet. Having pets from early age in life, Helps to learn responsibility and accountability….. and friends and family often worry about us and our poor pets….. thinking our pets, help us live the reality, and find the true happiness in life. To sum it up, Christmas is always a learning experience, I see children get everything and are nor fulfilled inside, and then I see other children get a home made gift, something from the heart with meaning and with love, and their fulfilled. Who is happier in life? again, thank you everyone for the likes, comments, messages, thoughts and prayers, with my pets, I feel like the child at christmas with the home made gift, and I thank Lisa, The Moderators, and staff who represent this sight, who allow us everyday to share our love for our pets, and to help build folks relationships with their pets, one problem at a time…. and I love that our pets reap the benefits….. We've come a long way since back in my day of first pet ownership, and I'm looking foreword along with you to continue carrying the torch to help others understand……
    1. kazzy220's Avatar
      kazzy220 -
      This was such a wonderful story to read!!!
    1. Bruno and Gidget's Avatar
      Bruno and Gidget -
      Great story. Loved it and love you for being such a kind loving person to animals.
    1. Bruno and Gidget's Avatar
      Bruno and Gidget -
      Loved this story and love you for being so kind and caring to animals. Thank you so much for sharing.
    1. bluesteelapd's Avatar
      bluesteelapd -
      great reading 'bout you, JACK
    1. ChrisRN's Avatar
      ChrisRN -
      Wonderful story, Dave. So glad to have "met" you here.
    1. Rural mystic's Avatar
      Rural mystic -
      This is the first day I noticed the article and so I just read it. It is fabulous Dave. Helped me in knowing more about yourself. It's a pleasure to call you my friend
    1. Lisabear123's Avatar
      Lisabear123 -
      Just saw this! Loved reading it, thank you so much for sharing!
    1. Alice Kable's Avatar
      Alice Kable -
      Great bio, Dave! I enjoyed reading about your life so far!
    1. 2BullyMama's Avatar
      2BullyMama -
      Great book... thanks for sharing