Izzy was euthanized a little after 9:30 this morning at the Cambridge Valley Veterinary Hospital in Cambridge, N.Y, at the loving and capable hands of Dr. Suzanne Fariello. She also put Rose down six months ago. Next time we meet, she said, please bring a puppy. Izzy died peacefully and quickly, a sedative followed by a lethal injection. Maria and I brought his body back and we buried him in a garden on the farm, one of his favorite places. We planted some flowers, said a few words. I guess it was a good thing that I just published "Going Home," a book on animal grieving.
I don't care to dwell on grief and struggle but last night was the most painful of my life with dogs. This loss is our life with dogs and animals and I know it and I accept it. I will feel this grief and acknowledge it, but it is only part of the story, which is mostly great joy, happiness and fulfillment.
Yesterday was harrowing. I spent the night with Izzy's head in my lap as he struggled to breathe, swallow and move. I thought he was near death and I could not bear for him to die alone. It is so easy to project our own thoughts into these creatures, but he kept looking at me in a way that seemed pleading to me. Let me go, let me go. He was in great pain and discomfort, working hard every minute to shake off the poison growing inside of him and I wish I could have spared him that.
Izzy was a profoundly loving, gracious and easy dog, a perfect dog in so many ways. Even this week, which must have been so difficult for him, he never gave us a moment's trouble, and always tried to do the right thing. To the end, he tried to love Maria and me, and last night, sitting on that floor brought back a flood of memories about the remarkable way we found one another, and my privilege to witness the work that he did, for me and in hospice. Maria is broken-hearted, and I feel for a creature that is as loving and intuitive as Izzy was. Izzy was what I call a spirit dog. They enter our lives at critical times, and mark the passages of our life.
I think of all those who have suffered this kind of loss, and I know it is something all of you have experienced. I will write more about the grieving process so that I can share what might be helpful while it is fresh in my mind. This morning, what I was feeling was the importance of making sure that the animals we love do not suffer any more than is necessary. One of the vet techs told me about her mother's death from cancer, and she said she wished she could have spared her some of the suffering she experienced in the way Izzy was spared. That was good to hear. How ironic that we can sometimes do it with dogs and cats, but not with people. More later, and thanks again for the wonderful words of love, support and connection. Truly a new kind of community.
Many people are responding to the idea of helping hospice, honoring Izzy and supporting an independent bookstore by purchasing the paperback edition of "Izzy & Lenore," my book about my work with Izzy, through the Battenkill book store. This seems to be taking off with a will of its own. I will sign and personalize all books purchased through Battenkill per your instructions, and donate all of my royalties to a hospice organization. I will inscribe the book to pets you have lost or to people you love. You can call the bookstore at 518 677-2515, or e-mail Connie Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org. She takes Paypal. As you know, and as also happened with Rose, supporting bookstores is a worthwhile thing to come from the loss of a pet one loves.
For now, I want to absorb what happened so rapidly, and try to make sense of it. To be honest, I have to say I fell apart on the floor of Dr. Fariello's office, cradling Izzy's head in my hands. I am broken-hearted too. Izzy looked up at me in surprise and concern as my tears fell on his eyes and nose.
Sweet Izzy, I said, may my tears wash away your pain and carry you to a better place.