Thursday, April 26, 2012

RIP My Sweet Izzie

Izzie this morning (10:00 AM, 26 April, 2012).  She woke up, sniffed at her favorite toy, which she hasn't played with in over a year,  then went back to sleep with head on her little pillow (She "stole" the pillow from my daughter).
Izzie was put to sleep this afternoon.  My little sweetie has crossed the rainbow bridge.  She has been really failing over the last year or so.  She was blind in her right eye, however, she could see a bit out of the left.  She really didn't hear much except really loud noises.  She turned from an assertive, happy, and adventurous dog to an anxious one, needing to have me next to her all the time, growing at other dogs and jumping when I put my hand near her face.  If I went into the next room she would bark. She was constantly looking and sniffing to make sure I was nearby. She could no longer deal with staying at the kennel, even just for the day.  She would whimper all the way home and she would sleep with her body touching mine for the next week. Even in her sleep, she knew if I was there or not and would wake up if I left. In the last few months, she had accidents in the house more and more frequently.  What was most problematic for me, though, was she had started nipping at me if I tried to get her to do something she didn't want to do, like getting up.  She didn't bite hard enough to break skin, but it was worrisome non-the less. Izzie had become confused about whether she had eaten and whether she had gone outside. No longer did she walk around with her tail held high and curled over — it hung down between her legs.  Not much of a life, I'm afraid.  The vet and I talked a few weeks back and earlier this week I knew it was time. We could certainly have put it off a few more weeks, but that would be for me, not for her. Yesterday we went for a little walk (very slow and with a few missteps), we had lunch on the outside deck of a local restaurant (they gave her a piece of turkey) and then Izzie slept most of the rest of the day.  I tried to get her to go out to pee before her dinner, but she didn't want to go out.  She did eat most of her dinner but then she peed on the kitchen floor before I could carry her out again.  I will not miss that or hefting her 25 pounds down four stairs to get her outside.

Here are some highlights from Izzie's life as I remember it.

Izzie blogging
Izzie and I met in Gillette, Wyoming.  I was doing an interim at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and had been looking for a dog for about a year.  One day while driving down the main street I had the urge to go to the animal shelter there, right then.  I told the woman at the desk that I wanted a small dog that liked being around people.  A dog I could take to the church office with me.  The woman said to go look at Isabelle.  There were three dogs in the shelter that day: two large yappy characters were in cages with a small, white, quiet and composed dog in-between.  I took her out of the cage and into a room to see if we might be compatible.  Isabelle decided that it was more important to sniff out the room than to pay any attention to me, but I decided I would take a chance.  After all I did have that urge to go to the shelter that day and Isabelle was the only dog meeting my requirements.  She had two owners in her four years before me.  The shelter said Isabelle needed to be around people (something that has been particularly noticeable the past year—"people" meaning me).

Our First Day
I paid the fees and went off to buy food, dishes, a leash, etc.  I returned to pick her up and take her to the rectory where she proceeded to inspect every room upstairs and down and then plunked herself in front of me as though she approved.  That night I prepared a bed for her next to mine.  She immediately jumped on my bed.  I told her to get off, which she did.  We went to sleep and I woke up in the morning with Isabelle sleeping on the bed in the farthest corner from me.  The next night we went through the same drill, but she jumped on the bed before I fell asleep.  I made her get off, but she was back on as soon as she thought I was sleeping.  Third night she jumped on and that was it.  Over the years she worked her way up to the pillows, right next to me.

We had been together for about a month and I was preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for myself and three guests.  We went off to walk a trail around Devil's Tower while the turkey was cooking, leaving Isabelle to guard the house.  I wish I had a picture of Isabelle sitting at the end of the table waiting for her plate of turkey.  I had put the turkey on the dining room table and she decided to put herself at the other end, seated on a chair, paws on the table and with a happy, expectant look on her face.  I yelled "get down" and she did.  She got her plate on the floor in the kitchen and never tried to jump on a dining room chair again.

Isabelle loved going to the Sunday afternoon teen's group.  We had pizza and watched and discussed episodes of The Simpsons. One rule was that I was the only one to give Izzie pizza.  (She became Izzie after one of my clergy colleagues decided that suited her much better than Isabelle). The teen group morphed into a Rite-13 group and they decided to put Izzie's picture and name on their banner and Izzie proudly marched into church with them on the Sunday they had their ceremony.

Shoveled sidewalks are best.
Wyoming was where I learned that one of Izzie's paws had suffered frostbite at some time in her earlier years and she couldn't tolerate cold on that paw.  One day she sat down in the middle of the street with her paws curled under her.  I picked her up and carried her home.  She wouldn't tolerate dog mittens either.  She had the most amazing ways of removing them on our walks while continuing to keep a fast pace.  I think we went through three pairs that first winter.  Izzie was delighted when spring came, the snow was gone and the rabbits were back to chase.  There was one rabbit, who lived in the vacant lot next door, who liked to tease Izzie when we came home from the church, even in winter.  I could see the tracks in the snow.  Izzie would stand on the passenger's seat, looking out the window, to see if the rabbit was there, waiting on the edge of the driveway.  If so, Izzie would bound out of the car and the chase was on.  Izzie would return tired, but delighted with the chase.  She never seemed to want to chase squirrels or birds though and there were plenty of those.

When we moved on to Sausalito and Christ Church, Izzie joined other dogs either in the parish hall or on the patio while the services went on.  They would all be let loose for coffee hour.  One winter day, Izzie was alone in the parish hall and walked across the street into the service, walking down the center aisle to be with me.  The ushers chased her down, put her back in the hall, and in a few minutes she was back.  It turned out that someone had left a downstairs doors open and Izzie went down the stairs, out the door, into the garden, up the garden stairs, across the street and into the church.  The second time they put her on leash and tied it to the railing outside the church. She was quite indignant.

Izzie did love the Blessing of the Animals.  In Wyoming the service was inside the church with at least 20 dogs and cats.  They lined up at the altar rails with their human companions for a blessing and treat.  Izzie walked next to me and barked at the one dog who dared put a paw up on the kneeler. Said dog removed paw quickly.  "She who must by obeyed" ruled.  Sausalito's service was outside in the garden, but with about the same numbers of creatures.  One young man brought his rabbit in a cage.  Guess who was VERY interested in the rabbit.  Thank goodness for the cage.

Izzie made some good dog friends in Sausalito and we had great walks together.  One of the highlights of our time there was the SPCA's Bark and Whine Ball.  Three humans and four dogs (all of us dressed up for the occasion) went over to San Francisco for a great night out.  There were walkers to take the dogs for pee breaks, lots of food, wine and music and dog treats.  Our friend, Liz, danced with one of her Australian Shepherds while Izzie hid under the table.

Izzie hiking in the mountains
I learned that Izzie loved to go camping while we were in Wyoming.  I took her up into the mountains and pitched a tent at about 10,000 feet elevation.  We got there late in the afternoon, ate dinner and when it got dark I unzipped the tent.  Izzie marched in and slept at the foot of my sleeping bag on her bed.  In the morning we went hiking up one of the trails and she stayed on the trail going up and down like she had done it many times before.  In California we went in our Eurovan up the coast to a campground on the ocean.  We walked down one path and along the shore.  When returning, I started up what I thought was the path we came down, and she pulled me forward, refusing to go up it.  When we came to the next path, she turned up that one and "voila" we were at our campsite.

OK, when do we leave?
That dog really loved to travel.  She made the trip with me from Wyoming to California at least three times before we moved back.  We drove from California to Maine (St. Andrew's, Millinocket) and then Maine to California and back (three times).  I loved the way Izzie would end the day on the road: rest for a half and hour—dinner—a final walk—then to sleep.  She would be ready to go at 7 am, except on our last trip this winter, when she wanted to sleep until 9 or 10 in the morning. One of our California trips was with our friend Pat from Millinocket where we stopped at as many National Parks and we could fit in.  Izzie and Pat were fast friends.  She is one of the few people Izzie would share a bed with besides me. She did not like it at all when Pat inherited Oscar the cat from her son.  Izzie viewed Pat's house as hers and Oscar was an intruder as far as Izzie was concerned.  I'm sure Oscar viewed Izzie the same way.

Izzie became part of the congregation of St. Andrew's, Millinocket.  She sat with Sally, the head of the altar guild and came up to the altar rail at communion time where she got a blessing.  I had no idea she liked communion wine until one day she cleaned up some that had been spilled on the floor after the service was over.  Fortunately she was too short to reach the cupboard where it was kept.  Had enough of people surreptitiously drinking communion wine in certain parishes (not Millinocket) and didn't want my Izzie needing to join AA.  When we left for Rangeley,  Izzie was given a formal letter of transfer.  I'm still not sure how Good Shepherd really felt about that.  The Vestry thought it funny, but Millinocket was serious. Izzie pulled her weight and was a great parishioner.

Izzie went to the early service in Rangeley and was quite welcome there.  The early service people always greeted her and brought her treats. They enjoyed her snoring through my sermons and occasional barks at the right time, like when I talked about God creating creatures with four legs as well as two.  Izzie was  was both my Amen corner and a sharp critique of my work. However, she stayed in the parish hall for the later service.  Occasionally someone would go down to use the restrooms and she would escape and just like in Sausalito, she would march up the aisle, only to be corralled by an usher or the Senior Warden.

Izzie's birthday was May 5.  She would have been 14 next week.  I had a party for her birthday in Rangeley and since it was Cinco de Mayo we ate chicken enchiladas, and drank grapefruit margaritas.  Izzie enjoyed the enchiladas, but was not offered a margarita.

I will miss my little sweetie.  I will miss her snoring next to me at night. Her snores were famous in Vestry meetings where they helped move the discussion forward, sounding out at just the right time.  I found her funny, loving, stubborn and always up for an adventure.  Now she will have a new adventure, joining her doggie friends, Sydney and Daisy and Luci as well as Bear and Oso and Eva who have already crossed the rainbow bridge. I'm sure she will be waiting for me, tail up and curled, when it's my time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

This is Buttercup, my "sister's" dog.  I guess that makes Buttercup my niece.  She got the NosePics treatment too.  My purse doesn't have that kind of money in it, but then I get HER to buy what I need.  Sis calls this "Rock and Roll Buttercup."

SHE and Me all gussied up with NosePics
My "sister" sent us her version of the two of us.  The original was taken soon after we became companions in Wyoming.  I LOVE the earrings and the purse.  Since SHE tends to be a bit silly, I think the beanie is perfect for her.  Sis has a buddy named Toban who has an App called NosePics where you can add fun stuff to pictures.  Good for whiling away time in the doctor's office.