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❤IZZY❤ World's Most Beautiful Bulldog

Aug 08

Izzy is Home

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As you all know, Izzy shed her earthly clothes at about this time last Monday. I do have so much to tell about her last adventure, but I’ve not had the heart – nor the time – to put it all down in words just yet. You see, after last Monday’s emotionally draining events, I did the only reasonable thing to do when suffering from a broken heart.

That’s right … I went to Disney.

After all, at what better place to hide from your tattered heart than “the happiest place on earth” … amirite? Of course, for Izzy, the Happiest Place Ever was any place where people would love on her and feed her, so pretty much any time she got to go in public, it was sheer JOY!  … I can only imagine just how totally and completely beside herself she would be were she ever to visit Disney. I’m here to tell you, she’d likely have had a stroke from all the fawning, feeding and, well, being practical … the heat.

Unable to stay in what feels like an empty house, I packed a bag with about 12 pounds of sunblock and headed south, yearning for distraction from the reality that my girl is gone. As I sat on the plane, staring out the window, I thought my plan would fail … it was clear to me that Izzy was following me. There was a circular rainbow just out the window. Once I spotted it, I couldn’t stop watching … I started taking photos, convinced it would soon disappear. I was wrong. On the short flight, I managed to capture photos of Izzy’s rainbow for about an hour, stopping only as we began our descent to Orlando. At first, I felt sad seeing that rainbow there but then I realized that Izzy was free to follow me wherever I go … which naturally made me quite happy.

Izzy’s rainbow and the shadow of our plane

At Disney, they asked if we were just on vacation or celebrating something special. Since we were celebrating my birthday, albeit a bit late (and I didn’t want to explain anything more about it), I was given a special button to wear around the park. Every employee – even those just walking past – wished me a happy birthday. We stopped into an on-site Starbucks so I could grab an iced coffee and, without missing a beat, a “cast member” swooped in as my beverage was handed to me so he have the ENTIRE store sing Happy Birthday (guests and all) and he presented me with a Mickey Mouse shaped cinnamon roll … totally to die for … can you imagine how much Izzy loved that?!

As it turns out, my plan worked quite well and I had a very fun, happy, long weekend. I definitely had some wistful moments, as is to be expected, but all in all, it was the perfect distraction. Like all good things, it had to end so this morning, I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to catch the early flight home … must report for duty (work)!  While I tried to crane my head to see out the window to find Izzy’s rainbow, I just couldn’t get a glimpse as I was stuck in the middle. Once we landed, I scurried off to work, delivering treats such as Jelly Slugs, Peppermint Toads, and Fudge Flies from Sugarplum’s (Wizarding World of Harry Potter) to my co-workers and went about my day. Then, this afternoon, my phone rang … I glanced at it but let it go to voicemail.

“Miss Kennedy, it’s Meghan from TRVH. I wanted to let you know that Izzy has returned to us and you can come get her at any time.”

Just in time. I arrived home just in time to get my girl and bring her home with me.

Izzy’s famous gingham blanket, labeled with love by her friends at the oncology office

The wind chimes sent to me by my “family” at Triangle Veterinary

Izzy and her prints


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Jul 31

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It’s a sobering way to look at adopting a pet, but nonetheless true. While I’m a huge proponent of healthy eating and clean living – at least for my dog – we only really can expect those efforts to go just so far. No matter how well we love our pets, no matter how much care we take in choosing their food, treats or even fashion, at the end of the day, we can’t do enough to win favor to keep  them forever by our sides.

Izzy has been my best girl for nearly 14 years. She was an expensive endeavor always, ingesting a largely under-qualified dog toy before even turning a year old. So yes, she’s a handful. Of course, she is also completely adorable in my eyes, so much so that I can hardly sleep without the sound of her snoring – a level of endearment that her poppa only dreams of enjoying. This type of enchantment comes in handy as our pets age, making it easier to clean up the inevitable accidents, messes and cope with the general chaos that is part and parcel of caring for a terminally ill pet (or human, for that matter). Remarkably, Izzy has not had many of those types of episodes – for which I am thankful – even though she’s fought a long, tough battle.

Most of you don’t know me well enough to realize that I am, as some like to call it, a “singin’ fool” and am prone to making up songs on a whim. Izzy has heard far too many of these “little ditties” throughout the years, more often than not, she is also the focus of them. I sing to her about how much I love her, how “fat” and beautiful she is, her general adorableness and even how much she stinks. During a particularly uncertain stretch in her health, I made up a tune pledging abject poverty in exchange for another day with her. No other conditions; she need not be four legged, cancer free, nothing. Just there.

And here I am, trying to cope with the sad reality that we are standing at the foot of the bridge; I am staring it down, damning the thing in the hopes it would burst into flame so Izzy couldn’t cross it. She, on the other hand, is napping, her belly full of popcorn. I want to believe it’s because she’s serene. I know that it has a lot to do with being really old and not feeling so good today.

I awoke to her army-crawling to her bed on Friday morning. Of course, I called her lovely onco and away we went to have an exam. Mostly unremarkable, minus a “troubling” sore spot just below her 6th(ish) vertebra. We went home with a plan to adjust pain meds, pull all chemo to help with the weakness and just take it day by day. Jen (her onco) said we probably just have weeks … but also noted that Izzy has fooled us all before. In true IzzyWarriorPrincess form, she did very well this weekend, getting up on her own, wagging her tail at us and giving lots of kisses.

And then, today arrived.

I still remember that tune in my head, the one I made up about my big, beautiful bulldog. The one I dreamed up when she was struggling with a yet-to-be-diagnosed-and-repaired knee problem. The one where I offered to give up everything I have, everything I own, to just have one more day with her. Oh, how I’d love to make that trade.

But I can’t.

Instead, I’ll choose heartbreak. The utter devastation of letting go. I have to.

Sure, I could play the game of tweaking pain meds. I could try to – and potentially succeed at – keeping her comfortable “enough” … enough so that she doesn’t yelp or whimper when it’s time to get up. Oh, how I want to try!

But alas, the time has come for me to prove just how much I love my big, beautiful girl and I hate it. I HATE IT. I feel like throwing a tantrum like some spoiled toddler (or our current president) because I am definitely not getting my way today. Not one little bit. It sucks. Did I say I hate it? Cuz I do. Every time she gets up without pain, my heart screams for me to call the doctor and call the whole thing off.

But I can’t. I won’t.

So today, I’ll make a new song. One that wishes to take away all her hurt. One that makes the promise that she will soon run free, taking one of her once-famous “victory laps” around the biggest garden she’s ever seen. And tonight, I’ll hum it in her ear as she drifts off to sleep with my arms around her, one last time. With fat tears slipping down my cheeks, I’ll send her up with a whisper to my dad to please take care of my girl til I get home.

I will stroke her softest bits of fur and kiss her fuzzy muzzle, trying to sear every bit of it into memory. And when she is gone and can no longer hear me, I will bury my face on her belly and sob.

 

 

Thanks to all of you who have helped, supported and loved us. It truly means so much.

 

For one final time,

~ Amy & Izzy, too

Post-popcorn feast snuggle today

Jul 29

I suppose it’s somewhat predictable that, as I near the end of my time with Izzy, I want to preserve as much as I can about her and her life. I regret that I didn’t start a blog straight away when I learned of her first cancer diagnosis, which was back in August 2015. Almost two years have passed which, for a dog of nearly 14 now, is a long time but is feeling ruefully short right now.

I recognize fully that I have been blessed to have so much time with my girl, cancer or not. There aren’t tons of dogs who live to 14, with the notable exception of tiny toy breeds which are absolutely not my style. I used to joke, “I like my dogs like I like my men – big and dumb” … Izzy isn’t *that* big (weighing in around 55 pounds for most of her life) and really isn’t dumb at all, but that surely didn’t stop me from bestowing the nicknames “Fatty” and “DodoBird” upon her, along with a great many others. She’s been my constant companion for all but the first couple of months of her life, give or take a week or two, seeing me through most of my thirties – which unfortunately included my father’s passing – right on into to “middle age” (I turned 46 just two days ago).

I was hoping that Izzy would make it to her 14th birthday and now that I think of it, that’s an odd wish given that I don’t really know when she was born. I’ve always pretended it was around Halloween/Day of the Dead, but likely it’s more along the lines of October 1st. When you choose to adopt your future heartbreak from a rescue or shelter, you have the luxury of selecting when you will celebrate the passing of years. I always loved Halloween and, when I learned about the Day of the Dead and its beautiful beliefs and traditions, it became an instant favorite. Since Izzy is my favorite dog in the world, a birthday was born. This year, however, I suspect we’ll be celebrating early; it’s important to squeeze this one in under the wire – although I’ve never really thrown her a birthday party before.

I’d come to believe that I adopted Izzy in January of 2004, but my ex-boyfriend from long ago stumbled across some baby pictures of her and in one, there’s a Christmas tree in the background. I know she’s just weeks or months old in it, so it was definitely taken right after she became my girl. That also means that her birthday could actually be in September. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy to have these photos, once thought to be gone forever. Izzy looks so big, even though she’s just a baby, furthering the evidence that she was older than I thought when I drove to Orlando to adopt her (I did live in FL at the time) and stuffed her into a cat carrier, borrowed from my best friend, Kim, who also accompanied me on the journey. Weeks after I brought her home, I can remember looking at that carrier and thinking how impossible it was that she’d fit … she was growing so fast … and when I gave it away just about a year ago, I marveled again at the idea that Fatty McFatterson ever fit in the darn thing.

But enough of all this. Here are the pictures of my gorgeous girl as an infant and toddler, back when her markings were distinct and she had a heart on her nose.