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12 years ago, I walked into the Humane Society shelter in Atlanta, Georgia and announced, “I would like to adopt a puppy that doesn’t shed and will be small when fully grown.” 45 minutes later I walked out of that shelter with the fluffiest 10-week-old puppy, who was definitely going to shed (a lot!) and would grow to be around 60 lbs. I couldn’t help it; it was love at first sight.

My beloved Izzy is my first pet ever. He is 13 years-old, has a tumor, and can barely walk anymore. Watching him getting old is extremely painful to me. I don’t know how to cope with the emotions that overcome me when I think about having to say goodbye someday. I don’t know how I will comfort my daughter and my husband, and I definitely have no idea how I will explain this to my other dog, Chico.

Izzy is the most adorable-sassy-spoiled-brat-fluff you would ever meet, and when he leaves us, I would know that we gave him the best life a dog could ask for. But somehow that’s not helpful to me. Izzy was the first living thing on this planet that was 100% dependent on me for his survival. This tremendous responsibility created such a special bond between us and has forced me to grow as a person in many ways.

I don’t know how I will cope with the loss of Izzy, but I collected some ideas that my family and I could try when the day comes.

  • Create a safe space where we could grieve and express our emotions. Some ideas that come to mind are watching sad movies and crying, creating art inspired by Izzy, listening to music, taking a long hike as a family, reading kids’ books about losing a pet, sharing the news with my daughter’s teachers, maybe have friends over? Maybe...

  • Collect stories and photos of our handsome ginger brat and create a book.

  • Bury Izzy with some of his favorite items, which is mostly food and bones that Chico chews.

  • Help other pets in honor of Izzy: donate to a shelter, rescue more animals.

I don’t know how much longer Izzy will live, but I know that whatever time he has left is going to be filled with yummy food (that my husband cooks for him and Chico every morning), dog friendly family trips, and hanging out with and being adored by family and friends. When it’s time to say goodbye, Izzy will know that he has been and always will be loved.

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