Many people knew Kasey by name, and would call out to her as she rode on the Santa Fe Police Department float during the Fiesta parade. Her guardian, retired police officer Bruce Pratz, said he simply accepted the fact that she was the star and didn’t mind playing second fiddle to this exceptional canine.
“No one knew my name,” he said, “I was just the guy with the dog. She had a regular fan club. She made so many friends in her life. She never knew any other life – she gave her whole life to the children of Santa Fe.”
Kasey died earlier in early July after battling spleen cancer. She was 9.
Pratz and his wife, Annette, mourn the loss of their companion, but said they are proud that she made such a difference in so many people’s lives. Annette Pratz said as a puppy, Kasey was always regal and always laid with her front paws crossed and her head held high.
Kasey started going to schools with Bruce Pratz to work with children when she was 6 weeks old. She taught — simply through her presence — good behavior, loyalty, punctuality and work ethics.
She also helped children secure their safety through an identification program, Bruce Pratz said. This was prompted when a salesman met Kasey at Don Chalmers Ford and urged the owner to donate children’s identification software, a camera and printer to the police department. Working with For Kids’ Sake, Kasey’s photo was taken with close to 18,000 children. Her presence in the photo helped overcome a lot of resistance from the children, he said.
Kasey attended many community functions through the years, Bruce Pratz said, but she also offered a calming presence. In 2005, during a tense time at Santa Fe High School, Kasey spent a day at the school, helping ease the situation.
One highlight of Kasey’s service was in 2009, when Bruce Pratz and Kasey were nominated as city employees of the month. The plaque remains in a proud position on the wall of the couple’s home, Annette Pratz said.
“She became a giant in the community,” she said. “She was so loved.”
Kasey retired when Bruce Pratz retired from the department earlier this year. She was diagnosed with cancer shortly after that.
The cancer progressed quickly, Bruce Pratz said, and while she had several rebounds from seizures, she eventually succumbed to the disease. Kasey was Pratz’s second service dog. Autumn was with him for many years, but developed bone cancer and died in 2010. Kasey and Autumn were often together at events, even after Autumn lost one leg to the cancer.
Another golden retriever, Little Ebony — Ebbie — was being groomed to be a successor, but is now happy to be a member of the Pratz family.
The police department’s canine program ended when Pratz retired. Other officers weren’t interested in continuing the program or being a dog handler, he said.
Kasey’s legacy lives on, however, in the memories of Santa Fe’s children.
“I could not be a more proud puppy mom,” Annette Pratz said, “and was blessed to have been given such a beautiful gift as our little girl Kasey.”