One day I asked "How will I know"?
Izzy said .....
"You'll see it in my eyes"
"Isabella changed my life forever....Izzy taught me to 'see' life in a new way through her soulful eyes and heart...I did and continue to do so and always will....
The day I met 12 year old Isabella she stole my heart, yet she was petrified of human touch. Izzy was seized in an animal cruelty case, emaciated, covered in fleas, arthritic and never loved. I laid a blanket in her yard at Best Friends Sanctuary, in Kanab Utah, where I was volunteering. I spoke softly to her as she circled wide, never taking her cautious eyes off of me. I read a book aloud so she would learn my voice. As she cautiously circled closer I felt tears running down my cheeks. I so badly wanted her to trust me but I knew I couldn't reach out too quickly or I would frighten her. I had to let her come to me. I could feel my heart pounding but I knew I had to remain patient. Isabella had stolen a piece of my heart so I just kept reading to her in hopes she would love me in return one day soon.
A few hours later she came close enough for me to touch her...I cried quietly as I touched her for the very first time. From that moment on her and I were inseparable. A few days later she hopped in the car and we shared the long road trip home to Colorado where she was welcomed with open paws by Pierce, Meg and Buddy. Meg, my Golden matriarch, quickly took Izzy under her wing and the two girls were an amazing duo. Sadly two weeks later Meg passed from lung cancer. Meg showed no signs of illness until two days before her passing. It seems the two gals knew long before they shared with me. Meg taught Izzy well and Izzy seemed to love her new role and her new home.
Isabella easily stepped into her new role as the matriarch, welcoming new foster dogs, keeping the younger foster dogs in line, soothing the shy and scared, cuddling next to the old and fragile....she was no longer timid, instead she was happy, playful, outgoing and confident. She seemed to thrive in her new role as if this was all part of a bigger plan than was shared with me at the time.
Isabella knew how to enjoy life! She taught me, and so many others, to enjoy the moment....don't look back, don't look to the future....simply enjoy the moment. We spent many afternoons laying in the flower garden with the breeze blowing and the birds singing as we looked out over the lakes. Isabella loved trotting through the snow, watching the birds and exploring the meadow alongside the elk. She was strong, stubborn and had so much love to give it seemed to burst from the seams! Izzy joined us for hikes in the Rockies, romping in the streams, swimming in Lake Estes, trips to dog parks and so much more.
Soon after adopting Izzy, she began having runny noses, nothing extreme. She was still energetic and happy but as a precaution, my husband, Paul, and I took her to the vet, saying to each other on the way that we'd get her an antibiotic and she would be fine. I think we knew in our hearts it was more but neither of us wanted to say it out loud. Then we learned the tragic news....our beloved Izzy had a malignant tumor on her upper jaw, inoperable....the vet said "maybe two weeks".
True to Izzy's nature she fought a valiant battle against the cancer, and she went on to live several more wonderful months(rather than two weeks). She touched many lives and stole many hearts. She completed her first 5K walk in Colorado (K9 Race For The Cure in Denver), where she trotted happily alongside others, sporting her pink bandana. A year later, with her cancer in full swing, she completed her second 5K but she rode in a pink wagon...well, she rode part of the way but also being stubborn and strong she insisted on walking most of it. We were the last to finish the race but we did it with good friends by our side!
Knowing her fate I wondered "how would I know"? I learned I would see it in her eyes.....one evening I did.
Izzy passed over the Rainbow Bridge on October 10, 2010 never to be forgotten. Paul, my husband and co-founder of Izzy's Place, passed away following a tragic accident on June 2, 2012. The two are now together again and I trust that Izzy met Paul and is guiding him.
In honor of Izzy and all the other senior dogs that are abandoned, we founded Izzy's Place. Our mission is to save abandoned, unwanted, homeless senior dogs of all breeds and mixes. Each dog lives in a loving foster home where they remain until they are adopted or pass over the Rainbow Bridge.
When you're sick or aging dog slows down, treasure those slower moments and really see, hear, smell and feel all that is around you ..... in the moment.
~ Shereen Raucci
Founder of Izzy's Place, Where Seniors Are Celebrated