Thanks everyone for all the texts and calls checking in on me and Isabelle. I didn't have the strength to pop in to Facebook yesterday with an update because we had to say goodbye to our sweet 'Belle late yesterday afternoon. She had developed a severe case of peritonitis that, at her age, she just couldn't fight. She was in so much pain with no hope of recovery, so we and Dr. Brown helped her cross over to wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge.
I've had many dogs over my years, but my girl 'Belle was really my heart dog. We've been through some challenging times over her 14 years with us, and there's been many a night when what soothed me best was curling up with Isabelle in her bed. I adopted her as a puppy from one of my students who was trying to train her to be an epilepsy service dog, and she just didn't have the right skill set for that. But she did have the skill set to be the most loving companion we could ever ask for. She was two when we adopted Molly as a puppy from The Jacksonville Humane Society. Molly had a broken leg when we adopted her, and it didn't take Isabelle long at all to realize that Molly couldn't run up the back deck steps with her because of her cast, so 'Belle stayed downstairs with Molly until her cast came off.
She was a gentle, tolerant and accommodating mama to our all Animal Care and Protective Services foster kittens and occasional foster dogs. When we were first fostering Zoey, our first foster failure, Zoey loved Isabelle from the get go. One night once the dogs had already gone to bed in their crates, I let the foster kits, including Zoey, out to run around and play a bit. When I was ready to put them to bed, I initially couldn't find Zoey. I walked around the corner, and she was so tiny that she had squeezed her little self right through the bars of Izzy's crate and sat there perched next to her. Isabelle looked at me like, "Mama, please get her out of here. I can only take so much before she really starts to look like dinner." Till the very end, Zoey loved her Isabelle.
She's been a fierce and loyal protector of her family, being sure to chase off all the marsh rabbits that could have hurt us, and she's been every visitor's favorite pup. Here in Tallahassee, she even sat in on all of our Chi Omega Advisory Board meetings that I've hosted, happily accepting butt scratches and treats, though she sometimes interrupted our conversations with her snoring.
I'm reminded of that old story about a family who had to say goodbye to their trusted pal. When the vet said he just didn't know why dogs couldn't live longer, the little boy had the answer. He said that God puts us all on this earth to learn how to love one another. Dogs are already so much better than we humans are at that so they don't have to stay as long. Isabelle was 65-70 pounds, depending upon how many treats she talked me out of, of rock solid, 100% love. She's really been the best girl, and we will miss her so very much. Please keep our family, and Molly, who's never known life without her big sis Izzy, in your prayers. God speed, sweet 'Belle. We'll see you at the Bridge. Many thanks to Dr. Diana Brown at Bradfordville Animal Hospital for helping us guide yet another of our furry family members over to the Bridge. We really must stop meeting like this.