I fell in love with those ears, those paws, that heart from the moment that my sister Lindsay (the best doggo mom in the entire world) brought her sweet Izzie girl home from the dog rescue nine years ago.
From the first time that I snuggled her up into my arms, her floppy ears and too-large-for-her-teeny-tiny-puppy body wiggling with complete and unadulterated joy, my world had shrunk, and I had no say in the shrinking. I was always going to have to say goodbye to her. You see, it’s an inevitable heartbreak that you take on when you welcome any four-legged best friend into your family, into your life. That it took so long to come was a blessing.
And still, and still, it felt like too soon. Like she had more paws to give, with enough force to knock me sideways if I wasn’t ready for it. Like she had more empty water bottles to find on walks and carry around with her. Like she had more sunshine to soak in, where she would sprawl on my sister’s porch in the summer afternoons. Like she had more squirrels to chase, more slippers to carry around the house, more commands to completely and utterly disobey.
Like I had more ear scratches to give her. Like I should have told her, one more time, and one more time again, what a good girl she was. How much I loved her. How lucky we were that she had come into our lives.
Izzie was my favorite furry little niece, my go-to girl for hikes and hugs and couch snuggles. And as her cool Aunt Wendi, I was obligated to give her all the treats, take her on all the walks and give her all of the snuggles. She was perpetually happy, and full of light, and always knew when her humans needed a little extra love on those especially hard days. I have so many incredible memories of this sweet girl, memories I will forever hold close, but there is one that will always hold a special place in my heart. Whenever I would come over to visit, Izzie would get so excited, she’d do a little butt wiggle and pee. Usually all over my shoes or legs. It happened every time I saw her for the first time. And she only did it for me.
I’m going to miss her little butt wiggle, and her overly excited piddles. So much.
Because what they don’t tell you about losing a dog, is that if you give your heart to them, it will be broken.
You will get it back with holes in it, holes in the shape of pawprints, pawprints that can’t be matched by any other dog. Her specific pawprint, carved into my heart.
If you give your heart to a dog, it will be filled to the brim. She will ask for nothing from you but love (and treats.) Nothing but belly rubs (and treats.) Nothing but snuggles and walks and pee greetings (and treats, and treats, and treats.) She will love you even after you spend all day saying the wrong thing and doing the wrong thing and letting everyone down. You will never let her down. She will forgive you over and over again, without you needing to ask. And she will make you laugh on days you didn’t think it possible.
If you give your heart to a dog, it will be so full that even when it breaks, you will be left with more than you had when you started.
I gave my heart to the most amazing doggo named Izzie 9 years ago, and I cannot describe how full she left it. Even now that it’s broken. Even now that each beat comes with an echo of hurt, a shadow of missing. It holds a pawprint belonging to a dog with the biggest of paws, to match the biggest of ears, to match the biggest of hearts.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Until we meet again, Izzie girl. You were and will forever be so, so loved. And touched so many people’s lives, my included.
Hold down the fort in heaven for me, baby girl.