Izzy, My Dream Dog

When I woke up early this morning, I was alone in bed.   I went downstairs and saw Jon sitting on the living room floor wrapped in a quilt with Izzy’s head on his lap.  Over the past year, Izzy had become my dog as much as Jon’s.   But on the last day of his life, Izzy wanted Jon.  You could see the love and  trust pass between them.  I imagine Izzy was looking at Jon in the same way he did  years ago, when he decided to be Jon’s dog.

Izzy was my dream dog.  The kind of dog I’d always wanted but somehow never had, maybe I didn’t think I deserved to have such a great dog.  I started taking him into my studio about a year ago when Frieda became Jon’s writing dog.  He was perfect for me.  He would find a corner in the studio and sleep while I worked.  Once or twice a day I would look down and see him staring at me.  We would snuggle for a while ( I always felt like he knew I needed a break) then he’d go back to his corner.

I never had to worry about him, he didn’t barked at the mailcarrier and if the UPS man came to the door, Izzy was happy to see him.  When we went for a walk or did yard chores, I never had to worry about him running off.  He was always there, paying attention but not needing constant attention.

Izzy had become my dog. That’s how  I knew there was something wrong with him when, on Monday, he slept too long under my desk and had a hard time walking on the path and I felt the strange lumps under his chin. When we found out he had cancer I had no doubts that he should suffer as little as possible and it was best to let him go. And I knew he shouldn’t be cremated, but buried in the shade garden in the front yard where he loved to sit.  When I planted the flowers on his grave, I felt so good about being able to do these things for him.  I’ve always seen Izzy as a spirit dog and believed he’d have a smooth transition from this life to whatever comes next.   I cried for the three days before he died knowing that death is the most natural thing in the world and thinking I would find some relief when he was no longer in pain and knowing  that we had done everything we could for him.

But now, after all that,  I  still can’t stop crying.  Because Izzy opened something up in me when I finally  allowed my self to have and love the dog I always wanted.  And now he’s gone and I’m wide open, feeling emotions I’ve never felt before and don’t have words for.



110 thoughts on “Izzy, My Dream Dog

  1. I just wanted to express my deepest sympathy to you Maria. I have to Jon on his FB page. I had to put my dream dog down 3 years ago. Cooper was Rottie and only 8 years old. Bone cancer. My Mother had just passed and I did’nt have him to help me through it all. He was always my dog,he loved my husband,but we were soul mates right from when I found him at the SPCA.I always told my husband it was a good thing that I met him first and not Cooper. The pictures of you and Izzy from the last couple days have about done me in,because I can see that love so strongly. Maybe in time you should get another Border Collie of your own to be that special studio dog. It may not be Izzy,but it will help that broken heart mend. Or a Lab,if a BC would be to painful. I never have written to someone I have never met to express something so personal. But I feel that I do know you from your and Jon’s blogs. So I’m sending you all the postive energy and hugs via the web. You are worthy to have love and to be loved by Jon and all those beautiful creatures that surround you. Bless you Maria, your are truly special lady!

  2. Maria, I’m so sorry for your loss and pain. I have cried for you today. It seems that when someone or something we dearly love dies our very soul is exposed and we grieve every loss we’ve ever felt…and it hurts so much. Carol

  3. Maria,
    I am so sorry for the loss of Izzie. I met him in Columbus, and he seemed to truly be a special dog with a calm and wonderful spirit. Remember all the great times spent together, and know that he is free of pain and suffering, and at peace. I had a cry for Izzie, and I know you will miss him. I hope you can get another dog as soon as possible to make that dog as happy as you made Izzie! Take good care.

  4. It is so hard for me to express the grief that I feel for you and Jon over the loss of sweet Izzy. I’ve read about him for so many years that I’ve come to feel that he was almost a part of my life too. I know how you feel because I, too, had a dream dog, a Sheltie named Stevie. He was sweet, loving and trusting from the very first. I remember once reading something Jon said; that sometimes you have a dog that is your “lifetime” dog, the one that you connect with in a spiritual way from the very beginning. Stevie even had Izzy’s coloring–that’s because he was a tri-color Sheltie. I lost him to cancer at a young age, but I’ve never forgotten him. His memory has stayed with me all these years, just as the memory of Izzy will stay with you. It will warm your heart,bring a smile to your face and sunshine into your world. I’m sure Izzy would have loved the new Bedlam Farm and would have been a gentle friend to Rocky, just as he was gentle with all he came in touch with. I wish you peace and calm in this sad time. Izzy will always be in your heart. He came to you at the right time when you were ready for your dream dog. He did well by you and you by him.
    As Shakespeare said in Hamlet, you could think the same for Izzy, “Good night, sweet Prince. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” My thoughts are with you.

  5. Maria, you write as beautifully as Jon and have moved me to tears. What a beautiful soul you have. I don’t know any of you personally, but I think a special creature such as Izzy was so lucky to have your love and devotion, and I thank you for sharing his life and your grief with all of us. Bless you for giving him the life and dignified end he so deserved.

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We euthanized our Mattie last Oct. Blame Blame and more Blame, I did to myself. But as of late I have been “opening”. Allowing myself to feel the emotions there really aren’t any words for. Emotions that I can smile and apprecite and expand.
    Thank you.
    Carol Davis

  7. What a beautiful piece from your heart. It made me cry reading it but what a place to be open to emotion. Most people are not open today to emotions. I love that you wrote of spirit animals. Thank you and thank you so much for sharing. I wish you peace and comfort. You and Jon are in my thoughts.

  8. Wow, you and Jon are amazing in communicating what we all really feel and somehow don’t know how. I totally relate to the feelings you share in this post. You two help us feel, on a regular basis and that is such a gift to our world. Thank goodness for your great spirits. Happy Trails Izzy, I didn’t know you personally but I love you and will miss your presence muchly. Sobs of joy and sadness feels so healing right now.

  9. Oh, Maria, it’s so sweet to know how close you and Izzy have been, and yet how understanding you were when seeing him re-connect with Jon at the end. I think Jon and Izzy were like medicine for each other in times of upset and uncertainty; they were each other’s safe haven. It’s hard to read Jon’s account of his grief at Izzy’s suffering, and to know that symbiosis is broken.
    We all will have good dogs in our lives but only a few will be the dogs of our hearts with that level of mutual understanding. My most heart-connected girl also died of lymphoma, way too young (around 10 yrs) and in my arms at the end after a similar night of difficult breathing. It took me almost two years to get through the dark valley of mourning her and dealing with the realization of the nature of mortality that her death plunged me into.
    Izzy’s Hospice stories, in Jon’s book and on his blog, were a big factor in helping me process and heal. Izzy was a real miracle dog, one of those whose healing spirit reached way beyond his physical presence, through Jon’s gifted writing and heartful photography. It’s good to know you and Jon have each other in this time of missing Izzy so intensely. Take care of one another and lavish lots of love on all your other furry kids, including, now, Rocky. Namaste.

  10. Dear Maria – Your hurt, gut wrenching sickness and heartbreak is palpable and so familiar. Yesterday may have gone in slow motion, today you may not comprehend. Take some space and don’t be afraid. Deepest best wishes. Melanie

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful legacy that he left – he showed you what a good dog can be. Thinking of you.

  12. I emailed Jon yesterday to say that you were both in my thoughts. 3 years ago I lost my own spirit dog, a collie, Spot, who was born deaf and was my constant companion for nearly 15 years, the loss is so hard to deal with but the comfort you can get is knowing that you have saved dear Izzy more pain and suffering. I told Jon that I worked with cancer patients before I retired and knew that many of them wished to be released from the pain and to die with grace and dignity as you allowed Izzy to do. Take care of each other, the pain will pass.

  13. Oh Maria, I wish I could give you a big hug. It’s truly amazing how many lives Izzy touched and how much love he spread all over the world thanks to Jon and his writing. Izzy knew how to give everyone just what they needed. It’s so clear when I look in his eyes in this photo how important you were to him. I understand how you are feeling and I’m sending you lots of love.

  14. May you find peace, comfort and joy in the beautiful life Izzy had with you. Nothing rips the soul open like the loss of a beautiful spirit. Sending out light and love to you.

  15. Oh Maria,
    Your words contain a beautiful tribute to you and to Izzy, which resonate with all of us who have loved and lost, or are loving our pets. You describe so well the connection that makes our soul expand and become more loving and whole.
    Izzy was fortunate to have you and Jon, and especially fortunate to have you both be so sensitive to his needs at his end. His needs not yours.
    He knew you both loved him and that he was allowed to go with love and caring.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings.
    From Fran
    Jericho, Vermont

  16. Don’t try to explain, Maria. I have cried over three dogs in my adult life – somehow the tears are not as cathartic as folks say they should be. The warmth of the love you shared will never go away, and that is a good thing. Treasure the memories you have, both the ones all can view in photos and even more, the ones in your mind.

  17. I am so,so sorry about Izzy, but so glad you and he found that bond. Each dog brings a gift, I think, you accepted and loved what Izzy brought you. Frieda brings her gift of loyalty and fierce protection, and Izzy brought that soulful acceptance. Over the years, I have cried and ached over the loss of two dear dogs (one who was much like Izzy, and another who was the cutest thing of four legs adn lived to be 17) and for all the tears and grief at their deaths, I wouldn’t have traded a moment with them. And each time, rather than saying I’ll never let myself go through this again, I say thank you for letting me love you and loving me back in your own way. May I find another dog who needs me and vice versa, and honor your memory.

  18. Maria,
    Ive only been following your husband Jons blog since last Saturday when I had to make the heartwrenching decision to put my beloved Brinkley to sleep. As I just read your words, I began to cry because what you said about ” being wide open and feeling emotions your never felt before” is exactly the way I feel today. Brinkley was the world to me. Always there in good and bad and completely there to love me and for me to love him back and now hes gone. I cried like I never cried before, sobs to say the least. But just reading what you have posted made me feel less alone with this sadness. Im truely sorry for your loss.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing yourself, Jon, Izzy,Frieda, Rose, lenore etc with us. I hope you and Jon find comfort with each other during this sad time. peace

  20. i feel a connection to you now – my first cat (over 35 years ago) allowed me to finally understand what love meant – i will be forever grateful to her for that- she has allowed me to let other animals into my life- allowed me to love my husband and my two daughters.
    i will be thinking of you in the next while-

  21. Maria,

    I just finished reading Jon’s blog, and now I sit reading yours with tears rolling down my face at work! (Oh my!) Thank you for sharing your precious time with Izzy.


  22. Maria – I wish I had words that would be helpful. All I know about grief is that it is necessary to express it, sharing it with those you trust, with the hope that they will listen to your grief and understand. It needs to be shared and listened to. You need to be heard and supported. With this post you are sharing your grief, your pain with us. All I can say is Izzy was a beautiful, beauatiful spirit dog and that we who read your and Jon’s blog are listening, hearing, understanding and supporting you.

    My one thought that might be useful is to, at some point, use your grief to do something creatively to honor Izzy, to honor his spirit.

    What a beautiful photo you have posted. Thank you for sharing with us. In the way of the reader, we loved Izzy, too.


  23. Maria, your words about IIzzy, the expression of your grief here are profoundly moving, and I want to tell you how very sorry I am that your Izzy is gone. I know his essence and memory will always remain with you and Jon. The two of you and all of your beautiful animals are in my heart today and always. Terri Brown

  24. Maria – my heart breaks for you, Jon, Frieda and Lenore. I had the absolute pleasure to meet you, Jon, Izzy, and your mother in Vermont. My daughter and I had our pictures taken with Jon and Izzy and was able to speak w/both of you. What a fantastic family you have. The dynamic you and Jon have is amazing and can be seen by those who see you together. Jon was wonderful with your mother. Your work is amazing (I still feel guilty using the potholders I purchased – although now they hold a special place in my heart) – such talent. Jon’s work is amazing. I have my notecards, pictures, and signed books. Jon’s pictures brought me to his written word, and ultimately to your work. I “lost” (I hate when that term is used to convey that someone or a pet, etc. has passed away) my cat of 20 years on Labor Day weekend of 2011. My heart is still broken and I still cry because I miss him. I try (as I have learned from Jon’s writings) that I shouldn’t project my own human emotions onto an animal. His words have helped. Sometimes I think it is silly to still be so sad, but I don’t care. Izzy went through a similiar situation my Tigger did and it is hard to come to grips with the fact that your “friend” is suffering and needs your help. I know what you and Jon did for Izzy was the most unselfish act you could have done for him and I know what I did for Tigger was unselfish – but that doesn’t make it any easier. It makes it easier to know that Izzy and Tigger are doing whatever they are doing and not in pain and are well, AND that they know they are loved and because of that love we let them go. Still, it does not make it any easier. Cry. Let it out.

  25. Dear Maria:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to lose a pet. You were so incredibly lucky to have Izzy be a part of your life, as well as Jon’s. He definitely was your dream dog; how blessed you truly were to have him.

  26. Reading your post and Jon’s posts for the last few days has made me very sad, and I am crying along with you both. I loved Izzy too. God Bless you both during this time. <3

  27. Maria, words are inadequate. They feel trite and contrived, cliched. But my heart aches for you and with you. Dear precious Izzy, what a gift he was to you and Jon, and you and Jon to him. I know it’s all about the circle of life and we give praise and tribute to the wonder these blessed creatures were and are, but, lord, it does hurt like nothing else when they go.

  28. Dear Maria,

    Go ahead and cry. It heals and releases tension. Many of us are crying with you, out of empathy with your eloquent words and remembering ourselves in a similar situation. The tears will pass, but the love and joy will remain.

  29. Maria,

    All grief is cut from the same cloth. With every loss, great or small, we feel the same pain. Some times it is just a little bit, a momentary pin prick to the soul and other times it is a great gash that leaves the soul in tatters. When those gashes occur, a door is opened through which all the little deaths we have experienced come rushing at us, fresh and sharp as the first time we felt them. It does not matter who or what we grieve for, it is a great, howling barreness that is left in the wake of their going; a rememberance of all things lost.

    But the soul, the spirit is about life and regeneration. It will find a way to stitch itself whole again. Surround yourself with growth and love, beauty and creation, graitude and compassion – the mending tools of the Eternal Tailor.

  30. I can’t begin to tell you how sad I was to hear of Izzy’s illness and passing. I knew his passing would be hard on the both of you. There was something so special, gentle, loving, and peaceful in Izzy and so obvious for the world to see. I thought how beautiful it was that a dog who gave so much comfort to humans in their final hours and days would have such wonderful and gentle humans to see him to the other side. Izzy was certainly a true gift and a wonderful dog.

  31. The photograph of you holding Izzy the other day is a heartbreaker. I am so sorry for what you are feeling and I know Jon is devastated too. Everyone has their own experience with grief. There is no right or wrong way to express it. The only thing I know one shouldn’t do is try to suppress it or conceal one’s feelings. I hate to think of you crying but if the tears keep coming it’s because they need to. It must be particularly hard in that it seemed so sudden and it is so soon after Rose’s loss.
    These next few days, weeks will be hard and I know that you will be in the thoughts of many, many people. Izzy will always be remembered and I am sure his spirit will be with you always.
    May your pain soon pass

  32. So sorry Maria, the loss of my collie ,Mose ,left me feeling the same way you describe, I think I can understand.

  33. I am crying with you and feeling the pain. You did a wonderful job on this write up and I feel I knew her. Alicia, the momma Berner we had to let go last Friday, has left a huge hole in my heart and my home. I know, as you do, that it will change with time but in the meantime, kow I am thinking of you.

  34. No one who has not loved an animal this way will know the joy of their companionship or understand the depth of loss when our beloved animals continue their journey. You and Jon did the brave thing in helping Izzy but that does not lessen the loss. Lucky you, lucky Izzy.

  35. T. S. Eliot was right when he wrote “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain”. But there doesn’t seem to be anything natural about the cycle of death and the passing of seasons when one is swept up in the whirlwind of emotions surrounding the passing of whatever has been loved so deeply.
    How fortunate you were to find your dream dog and share all those special moments with him in the studio. Your tribute to Izzy was poetry straight from your heart. Thank you for allowing us to grieve with you. There is an abundance of love from many hearts surrounding you.

  36. Maria, you write so beautifully. You express what so many of us feel but cannot say. I appreciate every glimpse into your passionate, private soul. Thank you so very much, Annie

  37. Oh Maria, my heart just breaks for you. I’ve felt what you feel, and we will feel it again, those of us who open our hearts to these creatures of the world. Sending you a virtual hug. Peace.

  38. Dear Maria,

    “And now he’s gone and I’m wide open, feeling emotions I’ve never felt before and don’t have words for…”

    Yet this posting radiates with your love for him, and his devotion to you…you are as much of an artist with words as you are with fabric and stitches…may Izzy’s gentle spirit in life bring you & Jon solace in his passing…

    Kathleen M

  39. Maria, I am so very sorry for your loss. I’ve been where you are, and we will all be again, those of us that love these creatures of the earth. Sending you a virtual soft embrace. Peace.

  40. Dear Maria, I am very sorry for your loss- it is so hard when a beloved pet dies. Your love for him shows in how you write about your experiences with him. You and Jon have been in my thoughts this week as you have had to deal with the decision of having to put Izzy to sleep. No matter what the reason it is one of the hardest things anyone ever has to do. We all want out pet to live forever but it can never be. Izzy will live on in our hearts,memories & writings & we are the lucky ones to know how special he was.

  41. Maria – I am so sorry for your loss – our beloved animal friends are gone way too soon. Your words about Izzy greatly honored him and I also know the pain of losing an animal with whom I was deeply connected. You did the most loving act in setting him free of his hurting body – and I suspect his spirit will be with you & Jon at the new farm. My sincere condolences and I hope it provides some comfort to know that others are holding you in our thoughts.

  42. Sending hugs to you and Jon. Both of you have written moving tributes to an amazing dog with a gentle spirit. Aren’t we blessed to be able to enjoy these special companions in our lives.

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