Soon, the famed Ghost Dog of Prospect Park may be just a Regular Dog.
More than a month has passed since Ghost Dog—a mysterious mastiff who for years benignly haunted the park's Nethermead Meadow—, who decided to trap the animal after noticing he had developed a limp.
"He's come out of his shell," Casey said. "He's got to a point now where we'll walk up to the cage and he'll jump up and wag his tail like a normal dog."
Years fending for himself left Ghost Dog with a series of health maladies—a painful bone condition in his back knee, a possible torn ACL and a bout of Lyme disease all plagued the pooch when Casey herded him into the back of his rescue van in mid-May.
Now, Casey said Ghost Dog has finished his Lyme disease treatment, and will in the coming weeks undergo leg surgery to at last correct his injured knee.
As for adapting to domesticated life, Casey said the dog is coming around admirably. Rescue staff take Ghost Dog on regular strolls around the shelter, though he has yet to completely warm to walking around outside.
"During the walk itself he’s OK, but once you get him back to the building he starts to get anxious," Casey said, adding that the dog doesn't seem intent on fleeing the shelter—on the contrary, he's hurried to get back in, where he feels secure.
While this isn't such a problem for Casey and his staff—they are, after all, —such behavior needs to be corrected before Ghost Dog can be released to permanent owners.
"Somebody that he’s new to, walking him in a strange area, he gets away, we’re right back where we started," said Casey, who estimates Ghost Dog will require another two or three months following his surgery before he'll be ready for a new home. Already, a long list of hopeful candidates—some as far-flung as Canada and Colorado—have approached Casey about adoption.
While Casey is carefully documenting each prospective adopter in a spreadsheet, he plans to hold off on any serious decision-making until he knows what kind of environment will best suit Ghost Dog's needs—does he require lots of space to roam, or has a life of leisure in the shelter morphed him into a couch potato?
"The day I can take him on a walk through Prospect Park is the day he’s ready for a home. That’s what we’re working for," Casey said.
When it comes to Ghost Dog's future, though, Casey is confident that adoption isn't a question of "if"—only a question of "when."
"In the end, his story is going to be happy."