Pet Tales: Internet sensation is a loyal, loving pet




Casey is “very loyal and loving to family and friends,” said Rebecca Svetina, one of the many people who love the miniature schnauzer.

They met nine years ago when Casey was a puppy and Ms. Svetina was a communications major at Kent State University. They lived in Murrysville with her parents, Greg and Patty Ehalt, but there were many goodbyes and reunions as she went back and forth to college. When Ms. Svetina moved to Slovenia in 2008, the periods of time she spent away from home and away from Casey became much longer. 

Casey is always very exited when family members come home, whether they’ve been gone for five minutes or five hours, Ms. Svetina said. When she returned to Murrysville on July 23, Casey had not seen her for two years. Their joyful reunion transformed Casey from an “ordinary” much-loved pet into an Internet sensation. If you’ve ever worried that a dog will forget you, watch the video on YouTube.

When Casey sees Ms. Svetina, she emits a loud, shrill noise that can only be described as screaming. Ms. Svetina smiles and laughs as she hugs and cuddles the hyper-excited gray dog. Then Casey falls to the ground and is briefly unable to get up. It appears that Casey faints from the joy of the reunion.

“We were actually worried,” Ms. Svetina said in a phone interview earlier this week. “Was she having a heart attack or a stroke or a seizure?”

They took her to her veterinarian, who checked her out and said Casey seemed to be fine. But the family is keeping a close watch on her.

The video, shot by Miha Svetina, Rebecca’s husband, was posted on YouTube so that friends and relatives in Europe could see it. By press time, it had more than 29 million views.

The Svetinas were married one year ago in Slovenia, with 20 American relatives and friends in attendance. The couple came to Murrysville for a July 26 wedding reception for 80 guests at the Ehalt home. The family accepted their veterinarian’s offer to keep Casey at the clinic that day to spare her another exposure to extreme excitement. 

The recently wed couple planned a week in the Pittsburgh area, with an agenda that included visits to the Senator John Heinz History Center and Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece in Fayette County.

“We’ve done none of that,” Ms. Svetina said with a good-natured chuckle.

The family’s telephone answering machine is recording dozens of messages from media.

“We’ve had to pick and choose who we could have time to talk to,” she said, and that has included the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, local television stations, CNN and “Good Morning America.”

Here’s the back story that I’ve wondered about: 

In 2008, Rebecca Ehalt traveled to the country her great-grandparents left in 1908. She won a scholarship that enabled her to live in Slovenia for one year to learn the language.

”It’s a beautiful country with just 2 million residents,” she said. “You can swim in the sea and hike in the mountains all in the same day.”

In the 11th month of that visit, she met Miha Svetina, and trips to Pennsylvania became less frequent.

Ms. Svetina, 29, works as a graphic designer and teaches English in a public school. Her husband’s family owns and operates Vali Sports, a company that made ski jumping suits for the U.S. and Canadian Olympic teams.

She married into a family of animal lovers.

“I ride horses all the time with my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law has a dog grooming salon in Slovenia,” she said.

When Miha and Rebecca married in Europe last year, their wedding song was “Home” by Edward Sharpe. The lyrics include this line: “Home is wherever I am with you.” Most of the time home is Slovenia. They’ll be flying back Aug. 10.

Celebrity helps shelter cats

Television celebrity and cookbook author Rachael Ray isn’t coming to Pittsburgh today, but she’s sending help to the Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township.

From 2 to 4 p.m., professionals will groom the cats and photograph them in a way that should show off their beauty and heighten their chances of getting adopted. It’s all part of the nationwide “Shelter Cats Are Beautiful” tour, which is a partnership between the animal-loving Ms. Ray and GreaterGood.org’s One Picture Saves a Life campaign.

In 2008, Ms. Ray linked up with Meadville-based Ainsworth Pet Nutrition (formerly Dad’s Pet Care) to develop Rachael Ray Nutrish food and treats for dogs. Part of the proceeds — $6.5 million so far — go to organizations that help animals. The tour helps celebrate the launch this year of her new line, Nutrish for Cats.

Go to www.ShelterCatsAreBeautiful.com for more information.

Fundraiser at Station Square

The animals at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society will enjoy the proceeds of Sample of Station Square while people taste food prepared by South Side restaurants. The event is Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. with a dessert after party at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 at the door. VIP tickets are $75. To pay $40 for advance tickets, go to www.wpahumane.org or call 412-321-4625, ext. 315. 

Happy hour for shelter

Volunteer Julia Germeyer is planning a fundraising event for the Animal Rescue League & Wildlife Center, and she’s calling it the 30 in 30 Fundraising Happy Hour. As her own 30th birthday approaches, her goal is to raise enough money to sponsor adoption fees for at least 30 animals at the Larimer shelter.

This event will be from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Tavern 245 rooftop bar, 245 Fourth Ave., Downtown. You should RSVP by Monday at http://arl30in30.eventzilla.net.

The donation is $30 in advance or $40 at the door. That gets you two drinks and light appetizers. Items available at a silent auction and door prizes have been donated by many companies and vendors including Washington Wild Things, AMC Loews Cinema, Burgatory, Senator John Heinz History Center and Grand View Golf Club.

Underwear party

Well, this is different. A new shop called Trim Pittsburgh is sponsoring a party where many guests will be ... scantily clad.

Trim, an underwear and swimwear boutique in East Liberty, will have a party 8-11 p.m. Friday to celebrate National Underwear Day and to raise money for the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center.

The party will be at The Livermore restaurant and bar, 124 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty (15206). Trim owner Thomas West says underwear is welcome attire at the party, but guests can wear whatever feels comfortable, including swimwear or regular street clothes.

There will be a DJ, cash bar, small bites, giveaways and an underwear runway show featuring models of all body types.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Trim Pittsburgh, 5968 Baum Blvd. in East Liberty or by calling 412-512-2828. 

Pet food truck

A food truck for dogs? Now that’s a new twist.

Pittsburgh-based Big Heart Pet Brands (formerly Del Monte Foods) and its Milo's Kitchen brand dog treats will serve free Chicken Meatballs and Grilled Burger Bites from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at 115 Federal St., North Side, by PNC Park, where the Pirates will be holding a Pup Night promotion. Dogs and families can also take doggie selfies and family pictures in a photo booth. The stop is one of 15 planned around the country to promote Milo’s Kitchen.

 

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Contact Linda Wilson on her Facebook page, lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to petpoints@post-gazette.com. It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic.

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