I’m sure I don’t have to point out that there have been many publicized deaths in the United States lately. From mass shootings to one-on-one occurrences, they all seem senseless to me. It may seem odd for a journalist to say this, but I honestly have not willingly watched one single news program on TV (sometimes I’m trapped in a doctor’s office with the news on, but I try to ignore it) for over 25 years. This “news fast” has helped with my mood over the years, and if something really big happens, I’ll hear about it from family or friends.
The one thing that I could never prepare for was the death of my 15 year-old dog, Izzy Boo.
I swear – sometimes it’s easier to lose a person than a pet. Dogs (and cats, when they feel like it) give you unconditional love and are always excited to see you when you come home. Sure, they may need to be walked every few hours or wake you up in the middle of the night to be fed, but, in the grand scheme of things, having a pet delivers many benefits the human owner.
There’s even a branch of therapy called “pet therapy” in which trained professionals bring well-trained dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs and other sweet creatures to visit people in the hospital or even in hospice. Petting a dog or cat has been scientifically shown to lower blood pressure, slow down heart rates that are too high, lower respiration rates and generally help the person feel calmer. And if you’ve ever owned a pet that you were well bonded with, you know that they know if you don’t feel well and generally follow you around because they have an instinct to help.
Izzy Boo was a Japanese Chin, which is not a well-known breed in the U.S. I remember picking him up from the Japanese Chin Rescue Society. The lady that had been fostering him started crying when I took him, and over the years, I found out why.
Izzy Boo had “never met a stranger.” He loved people, other dogs, cats and even my pet turtles. I don’t think he had a mean bone in his body. Sometimes I wish he had been a jerk because maybe his passing wouldn’t hurt so bad.
Izzy Boo came to us when he was about three years old. He was a smarty pants, and learned all kinds of tricks, like “high five,” sit, shake and he’d also run in circles on command (“Chin Spins”).
He was with me through my daughter growing up and moving out, my own divorce and moving away and he spent his last few years as a companion to my mother, who moved with me.
One Friday, we took him to the vet for what we thought was allergies. It turned out that he was dealing with massive heart failure, and so we had to make the difficult decision to send him to Sweet Dog Heaven. I couldn’t stay in the room, but my mom did.
When a person passes away, it can be sad, tragic or even expected, but it is never easy. Funerals are for the living, as we like to think that our person has gone to a better place. But when a pet dies, even though we take them in knowing that we’ll probably outlive them, it can make the world seem silent and empty.
I hope you’re chasing squirrels in Dog Heaven, Izzy Boo, and that you know that you were loved.
If you have recently lost a pet and are having trouble coping, click HERE for some tips and compassion.