"The day I met 12-year-old Isabella in May, 2008, she stole my heart. Sadly, she was petrified of human touch. Izzy was seized in an animal cruelty case, emaciated, covered in fleas, arthritic, and had never been loved. I laid a blanket in her yard at Best Friends Sanctuary (located in Kanab, Utah, where I was volunteering). I spoke softly to her as she circled wide, never taking her cautious eyes off 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, she and I were inseparable. A few days later (now June, 2008), she hopped in my car and we made the long drive home to Colorado, where she was welcomed with open paws by Meg, Pierce, and Buddy.
"Meg, my Golden matriarch, quickly took Izzy under her wing. The two girls were an amazing duo, exploring the meadow side by side each morning and sleeping together at night. 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 their knowledge with me.
"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 were 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. We spent many afternoons together 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.
"Two years after Izzy joined our family, she began having a runny nose, but nothing extreme; she was still energetic and happy. However, 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 than that, 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, and it was inoperable. The vet said she had '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 the predicted two weeks). She ate a special diet (grain-free, raw meat and fresh cooked veggies) and went for acupuncture weekly (literally seeming to float after each session) to ease the inflammation around the tumor. She touched many lives and stole many hearts.
"In autumn 2009, Izzy 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 some of the way in the wagon, but because she was 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 will I know?" With the help of Pam Baca, Animal Communicator, I learned that I would see it in Izzy's eyes. And one evening, I did.
"Izzy passed over the Rainbow Bridge on October 9, 2010, and she will never be forgotten. Paul, my husband and co-founder of Izzy's Place, passed away following a tragic accident on June 2, 2012. I trust that Izzy met Paul and is guiding him.
"In honor of Isabella and all the other senior dogs who are abandoned, Paul and I founded Izzy's Place Senior Dog Rescue (IPSDR) in November, 2010.
"When your sick or aging dog slows down, treasure those slower moments and really see, hear, smell, and feel all that is around you. Live in the moment, and treasure it."
~ Shereen Raucci, Co-Founder of Izzy's Place