SARTELL, Minn. - We love our pets for their quirks. But a dog in Sartell is especially committed to her peculiarity.
Cassie, a yellow Labrador, has been carrying a stick for all her 11 years.
“From day one, she just picked up a stick and away we went,” says Cassie's owner, Gerry Vierzba.
Cassie has been carrying her current stick for six months, but others have been her companions for as long as five years.
“She never leaves home without it,” says Gerry. “If she can't find it - it's buried under the snow - she's gonna dig for it until we dig it up.”
Cassie's longest stick was 6 feet. So long, Cassie had to turn her head sideways to cross a narrow pedestrian bridge at a nearby park.
It was a lesson she learned the hard way. “She'd come up and boom, and almost knock her teeth out,” says Gerry's wife, Mary Vierzba. “She only did that once or twice.”
Gerry and Mary love watching the waves and smiles from passing motorists who spot Cassie strolling with her stick.
“I was in Herberger's one time and the lady across the jewelry counter was checking out, and she looked at me and said, 'Oh my gosh, you're the lady with the dog with the stick,'” says Mary, laughing.
Cassie is protective of her stick. During a recent video shoot, KARE 11 photographer Rob Collett tried to attach a small GoPro camera to one end of the stick. Cassie was having none of it and tugged her stick away.
The Vierzbas say their Cassie suffered a blow earlier this year when her stick fell through a crack in the pedestrian bridge and landed in the swift current below.
“Oh, she was going in,” Mary says. “We had to stop her.”
Cassie ran, instead, into the nearby woods, re-emerging moments later with a new stick. She welcomes no help from her owners in the stick picking process.
“She's got to pick it,” Mary says.
“She has standards,” Gerry adds.
Next door to the Viezbas, Mary Bouchie has been watching Cassie and her wooden companion for years. “She's getting a little slower as she walks,” Mary Bouchie says, “but she still carries that stick, yes she does.”
Gerry has concluded Cassie is bit of showboat.
“She almost stands up taller when she's got a stick,” he says. “I think she likes strutting her stuff.”