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In Loving Memory

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Isaac (The Wonder Dog)

August 21, 1999 – February 6, 2012

A Story of a Life Well Lived

The hardest thing about writing a memorial tribute for a loved dog is what to leave out. I have had many, many pets in my 59 years all of whom I loved dearly. Unfortunately, most of them died too young or before what I thought should have been their time. Isaac was a "double-dipped" Chocolate Lab who lived to a ripe old age of 12-1/2. Because he was so youthful looking, with only a faint patch of grey under his chin, many people thought he looked like he was many years younger. He certainly acted as though age didn't faze him. My thought was that if Isaac remained healthy he would have easily lived to be 14+ years old. In fact, I would tell my husband that we shouldn't tell him how old he was because in his dog-mind he was a two year old. What Isaac brought to our lives cannot be measured. It can only be felt in our hearts and that was of an abundance of unconditional love!

I bought Isaac for my husband after his mother passed away. He was seven weeks old and from the moment Richard picked him up the bond between a man and his dog began. Isaac (the boy) and his dad became the inseparable "big guys" and where Richard went so did Isaac. At our house in Nederland Isaac enjoyed taking long hikes on National Forest land always leading us out and back like a loyal scout. Of course he had to have his favorite stick which was quickly replaced on the way back with a much bigger and better stick.

In the summertime Isaac loved relaxing on the deck or on the cool, freshly cut lawn "surveying" his land. He would walk the path lined with Aspen trees that took him to the lower part of our property sniffing out the scents of elk, deer, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and bear. He would leave his "mark" to remind any intruder that it was his kingdom. One had a sense he felt it was his job to make sure all was well.

The squirrels always loved to taunt Isaac by staying just out of his reach on the tree trunks. He would be sucked into their game believing this time he was going to be victorious. Isaac always approached any opportunity for pursuit with one of his numerous tennis balls in his mouth.

Living in the foothills we enjoyed providing food for the many critters that called our place home for the summer. We became a feeding station for the hummingbirds that spent several months raising their young before making the long trek back to their winter homes. These small wonders could consume a gallon or more of homemade nectar, daily, and it made for the most amazing sight at sunset when hundreds of them would have their last meal of the day. One of my most favorite stories to tell of the gentleness of our "handsome lad" was the time a hummingbird was stunned as it flew into a window near where Isaac was sleeping. This would happen occasionally and when I would hear the slight "thunk" I would go outside and retrieve the stunned bird. I had a "healing" box that I lined with a towel and would put the hummer in the box to let it recover: leaving it in a cool spot on the deck. On this particular day I heard the familiar sound and went to the deck to look for the bird. I wasn't able to find anything but noticed Isaac was standing by the window. I had a sense that there was something odd. As I looked at him closer, I noticed that he was holding his mouth in a semi-opened position. I walked over to him and lifted one side of his jowls and saw tail feathers. When I opened his mouth there was a small, very wet, frightened hummingbird. I took the bird out of Isaac's mouth, dried it off and put it in the box. The little bird recovered for about an hour before flying off to its family. I couldn't help but think that this tiny creature would have quite a story to tell.

Isaac did things that were unique to him. When he was younger and the first time he saw a full moon rising through the trees he put his paws on the top rail of the deck and barked. This became a ritual every time there was a full moon. We weren't sure what was going through his head or what he thought he was going to accomplish by barking but I think he felt he needed to warn us of some extraterrestrial object approaching. This led to Richard pointing out the planes that flew overhead. We live at 8,400 ft. and the night sky is beautiful and clear. Airplanes were easily spotted and Isaac learned to look up and track their movement. He would make a low growling sound or bark: I believe to warn us of this odd thing in the sky. Isaac also loved his toys of which he had about 30. He had a toy box that held these treasured objects. Isaac was able to pick out, on command, a toy by its name even if it meant digging through the entire box to find what was requested.

A year ago, Isaac had TPLO surgery (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) done by Dr. McAbee at Alameda East Vet Clinic. He started doing swimming to rehab his leg. Being a lab, he fell in love with this activity. Isaac looked forward to this new found way of running without the impact – something I called doggy aqua jogging. This became Isaac's new favorite exercise. In fact until three days before Jason released Isaac from his cancer-ridden body, he swam. Just like every other time in the pool Isaac overrode the pain and acted like a young, happy dog.

The final chapter in Isaac's long life began when I noticed a swelling above his back teeth on his left side. This led to the discovery of a tumor that started in the roof of his mouth that had spread to the back of his eye and to his mandible. From the time the tumor started growing until it was diagnosed was most likely just a couple of months. The shock of the news was the cause of some very deep sadness for both Richard and me. We were told that depending on the tumor diagnosis we most likely had no more than six months with him. After researching our options for treatment, we chose to take Isaac to CSU to get Steriotatic radiation to stop the advancement of the tumor. It required three treatments: one daily for three days. The procedure was successful in that it caused the tumor to shrink rather quickly. Unfortunately, because of the location (the mouth) Isaac had fistulas that formed as the tumor shrunk. He also had teeth that he was going to lose as the bone was destroyed and was the source of infection. We started Isaac on oral chemo and stopped when we found out the cancer had spread to his lungs. We believe that had Isaac's tumor not metastasized we may have been able to keep him cancer free for up to another year. It wasn't in the cards for that to happen.

When it was time to make the decision to euthanize Isaac we contacted our friends: one was a neighbor who was a vet and the other a neighbor who takes care of Isaac and Anni, our 11 year old Cairn terrier. Our vet neighbor was not going to be home when we needed her services and our other friend's vet, who also does home euthanasia, was also not available. He did recommend another vet who turned out to be Jason. We called Jason on a Saturday and asked if he could come Monday morning, early, and he was able to accommodate our request. On the advice of "Auntie" Diane who provides dog care and adopts older dogs some of which need treatment for cancer, I made arrangements to take Isaac to Ft. Collins to be cremated at an animal crematorium that she has used for years.

For Isaac's last dinner he enjoyed two filet mignons. His appetite was amazing considering he had an irradiated mouth with rotting teeth. The next morning Richard barbecued buffalo burgers which he ate as though it was the best thing he had ever tasted (he got buffalo daily mixed with his food.) Because I was going directly to the crematorium, we put Isaac in the back of our Denali and let him and Anni share a dish of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. Jason allowed our beloved companion to die in peace, free of pain, and in the company of his loving family. We should all wish to pass in this way.

We will miss our dear Isaac more than words can express. Auntie Diane said that he always reminded her of "a sweet old man in a dog suit" who I believe is now an Angel Dog in heaven. I imagine he is two years old, running with his stick, swimming in warm water retrieving balls, chasing squirrels and surveying the land – and of course flying because he has his wings! Be well sweet boy until we meet again!

Love you always,
Dad, Mom & Anni


Home pet euthanasia services offered primarily in Adams County, Boulder County, Broomfield County, Denver County and Weld County in Colorado. Accommodations may be made for home euthanasia services in outlying areas in Colorado with sufficient advance notice. We accept credit card payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, or you can pay by cash or check. Full payment is due at the time of service. Thank you.

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