09 Apr Happy Birthday Izzy!
On April 9, 2009 my dog Izzy (short for the name Isiah) was born. It was a time of confusion and we needed to ease our fears and redirect our attention to something else. I had just finished my rigorous cancer treatment, which included, multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and injections to my stomach twice daily to treat a blood clot that had formed as a result of a port and clinical trial drug that I was on. As a family, we were completely worn out. I was hardly recognizable after losing all my hair and 40 lbs. It was during that time that I wanted to shift the attention off me and give my kids who at the time were 9, 4 and 2, something else to think about. Life was really heavy for all of us.
Less than a year prior, we had lost our first pet, a pit bull, after his own battle with cancer. While we loved this dog that defied every negative stereotype about his kind, he was too large to keep in our home. We knew we wanted something small, fluffy and resilient since he’d be spending a lot of time with our kids. I started to do the research and decided on a Havanese, who like us originated in the Caribbean. Then I came across a breeder who was very dedicated and selective about those who wanted to purchase a dog from him. It was for this reason that I was afraid that he would be able to see the physical signs of cancer whenever we went to visit. It’s also one of the rare times I wore a wig.
We were all immediately drawn to this particular puppy. His spots were perfectly placed, he was super-affectionate and he had so much energy. On the weekends we were unable to visit, the breeder would send us pictures, which only made us more desperate to get him home. When it was finally time for him to arrive, we were ecstatic. He immediately got into all the stuff he wasn’t supposed to. His favorite items to this day are socks and underwear. He has a love for snow and running in the park. When any one of us are leaving he barks uncontrollably because he doesn’t want us to go. When my daughters arrive from school he immediately chases them until he successfully removes the rubber band that holds their braid in place. Life with Izzy is definitely a comedy show but it is also a way for us to collectively heal.
Happy Birthday Izzy!
To learn more about the benefits of pet-therapy for cancer patients, click here.