Cass, a husky/Jack Russell terrier mix, spends his days at Classic Club 8, a nine-hole golf course in Falls City, Neb. Photos courtesy of Carter Montgomery
When Carter Montgomery first broached the subject of adding a second dog to the household, his wife, Jessie, resisted.
“She wasn’t too thrilled in the beginning,” says Carter, superintendent at Classic Club 8 (formerly Falls City Country Club) in Falls City, Neb., and an eight-year GCSAA member. “She thought we didn’t have time for another dog. I thought, ‘I get it,’ but I really pushed for us to keep him.”
Good thing he did.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 28, 2020, Cass — half husky, half Jack Russell terrier — awakened Carter from a sound sleep. Cass was creating an uncharacteristic commotion by jumping on the bed between his humans. Carter first considered nudging the offending hound to the floor, but then he noticed that Jessie, who was nearing the due date for the couple’s first child, had turned purple and was in the throes of a seizure.
Cass’s late-night ruckus set in motion a wild few hours that resulted in another healthy addition to the Montgomery family — baby Arie Faye.
“I like to say it’s divine intervention he came to us,” Carter Montgomery says. “Cass goes everywhere with me. He goes with me to the course every day, but once I get home, he finds Jessie. He’s pretty much her dog now. They’re inseparable. He and baby Arie are pretty inseparable, too. He’s never too far away from her now.”
Carter and Jessie Montgomery with Arie Faye, who was born Sept. 28.
That almost wasn’t the case. Cass originally resided with family friends who lived in an apartment that didn’t allow pets. They had found a house and asked Carter to keep Cass until they moved, so Cass joined big sister Raleigh in the Montgomery household. However, the friends’ housing arrangement fell through in March 2019.
“Cass really enjoyed the golf course,” Carter Montgomery says, “and they could see that. They told us to keep him. He was always well mannered and well housebroken. We didn’t have to teach him much. He knew ‘Sit.’ We taught him a few more commands, but he was a great golf course dog. He loves to chase geese and squirrels. Raleigh was an old dog and couldn’t catch them, but Cass can actually catch the squirrels, unfortunately. We’ve tried to grow up more no-mow areas, and that’s where he takes them (the departed tree rodents) so I don’t yell at him. Vultures hang out at the golf course more now.”
Heeding advice that “every superintendent needs a dog,” Carter had rescued Raleigh from a shelter in his first year of superintendentship, in 2006. She died in January of this year.
“Cass got to be around her for close to a year,” Carter says. “He learned a lot from her. He loves riding in the equipment, and he loves riding around in the back of the truck. He never jumps out of the truck. I wonder if she taught him that?”
Editor’s note: Love turf dogs? Meet even more canine crew members.
Cass wasn’t great about following another Montgomery family rule, though. At bedtime, Cass starts out in his own bed on the ground. “But then he sneaks up into the bed,” Carter says. “If you try to kick him out, he just plays dead. He just lays there if you try to drag him out.”
Early on Sept. 28, however, there was nothing surreptitious about Cass’s bed behavior. Just before 3 a.m., Cass jumped into bed — and kept jumping.
“I thought he had jumped into bed with a toy. He was just jumping around, which is nuts,” Carter says. “I was going to kick him out. You know, ‘Damn dog, get out of here.’ Then I noticed Jessie was shaking violently, and she was purple head to toe. It was ... it was just a crazy moment.”
Jessie was thought to be around 39 weeks into her pregnancy at that point, and Carter had just that day mentioned he thought she was close to delivering. Her projected due date was Oct. 5.
A watchful companion: Cass with baby Arie Faye.
The pregnancy had been relatively easy up to that point — so much so that Jessie would joke that she didn’t want to comment on how uneventful it had been for fear of “jinxing” it.
That morning, though, Carter saw Jessie convulsing and rolled her on her side.
“Blood started coming out of her mouth,” he says. “Her eyes weren’t moving. … I immediately dialed 911.”
During the short wait for the ambulance, Jessie stopped convulsing and her eyes opened, but, “There was nothing there,” Carter recalls. “She was confused. She had no idea what was going on. That was the most helpless I felt in my life.”
A medic promptly recognized the seizing as a likely symptom of eclampsia, which WebMD describes as a disease of the placenta that causes swelling, high blood pressure and high levels of protein in urine. It can be dangerous, even life-threatening, to mother and child, but Jessie had had her blood pressure and urine protein levels checked at every visit to her obstetrician. There had never been any indication, Carter says, that Jessie had preeclampsia.
Jessie was loaded into the ambulance, which headed toward the hospital. Thinking the issue was his wife’s health alone, Carter headed to the hospital in Falls City. However, that hospital isn’t equipped to deliver babies; Jessie’s ambulance was actually bound for nearby Hiawatha, Kan.
Carter eventually made his way there, and by 6:52 a.m. — four hours, roughly, after Cass’s ruff wake-up call — Jessie had delivered, by emergency cesarian section, a healthy baby girl. Carter couldn’t be by Jessie’s side.
“I couldn’t go back there, so it was weird,” Carter recalls. “I knew my daughter was OK, but I wasn’t sure about my wife. There was a lot of uncertainty there. Finally, a nurse said she was wheeling (Jessie) to her room, and I just lost it. I broke down.”
Arie Faye is named after Jessie’s grandfather Arie Kroeze, who founded Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa. Her middle name is a nod to Carter’s great-grandmother Faye.
Mother and daughter are both doing well. In fact ... “Jessie was talking about having another baby the next day,” Carter says with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Whoa. Let’s deal with the first one first.’”
Cass on the course.
And what about Cass? One of Carter’s co-workers treated the good boy to a T-bone steak, and Jessie rewarded him with prime rib.
Carter is convinced he wouldn’t have awakened to Jessie’s distress without Cass.
“We have one of those Sleep Number beds,” he says. “One of the brags about those beds is you never feel the other person there. I don’t know how I would have felt it. I probably would have slept right through it.”
Andrew Hartsock is GCM’s managing editor.