Friday, September 19, 2014

Isabelle- March 23, 2000-September 18, 2014

I started writing this post when Isabelle was first diagnosed in July. I've been adding to it as I remembered things. I wanted to get as much written down before the grief overcame me.

Isabelle wasn't a sweet cuddly pug. She didn't like being held by me. She didn't like kisses or hugs. She tried to bite me if I touched her nose or ears. I had to restrain her to get her eye medications in. She had attitude that she really couldn't back up with only three teeth. She would get so mad when it was nail trim time that she would pass out.

I loved her more than I thought I would. Because she came into my life at a late age, I've only had five and a half years with her. She didn't connect with me like Tallulah and Petunia did. Tallulah and Petunia are my heart. I loved Isabelle, but not in the same way. And that's ok. I know she loved me the best that she could. Even if she would have preferred a man.

Here are some of my favorite memories of Isabelle.

Just a few months after coming to me, I was removing staples and carpet tacks from my stairs. Isabelle sat at the bottom and barked and cried. Then she made her way up to me slowly, basically the only time she ever tried to climb my stairs.

Isabelle and I were on a local morning TV show to promote Pugapalooza one year. I brought a small bowl of Cheerios to keep her occupied (and less barky). The TV lady wanted to feed her some and took a handful of Cheerios. Instead of giving her one at a time, she held out her palmful of snacks. Isabelle dove face first into those Cheerios! She always ate with gusto.

She hated the first stroller I got her. It was too low to the ground, and the sides were too high. She liked the second one because it got her up higher and frankly closer to any available treats. She was still fussy if she couldn't see me though. She put on quite a show every year in the parade in her stroller. People even recognized her from the parade. She was also crowned Norfolk's first Canine Crusader last year. 

Isabelle didn't like to be on the furniture which led to several, several dog beds. At any one time, there were at least three in the living room. She moved from bed to bed when she felt like it. She seemed to prefer the orthopedic ones in rectangle shape. We had other orthopedic beds in different shapes which she would use if she had to. If a rectangle was put down, she immediately moved to it.

She liked it even better if beds were double stacked.

The one couch she did like.
After years of trying different things, she finally found a warming bed thing she liked, the Body Glove Pup Warmer. Keeping her warm was a challenge. If she got too cold, she would cough, always a danger with trachea dogs. She had a huge wardrobe of sweaters and t shirts and fleeces. The pugjamas started because of Isabelle. The track suits mom got her were too long. Thus, mom started making her own.

Isabelle was not a fan of swimming. At all. Unfortunately for her, swimming was the best exercise she could get as a black, senior pug with breathing problems. She needed the exercise because of arthritis. I made her swim a few laps a few times a week then she could float around in her ladybug float with me. She didn't like to be away from me, but she didn't like to be in the pool either.

Isabelle met very few foods she didn't like. Bananas are one. She liked the flavor, but apparently not the whole fruit. She also never met a size of food she didn't think she could handle. Which led to trying to swallow things whole and choking. That taught me to cut up her food and break up the treats. Her favorite treat were Pumpkin Kisses from Pugs in the Kitchen. I ordered 3/4 of a pound for her in June. I made sure she got to eat every one.

She felt the same way about her birthday and Gotcha burgers. She has had several burgers since the cancer diagnosis. 
Here she is eating one from a few years ago.

Isabelle was also the spokespug for our neighborhood. Here she is with me, celebrating our win of an award for our work on the dog park. 

Here are some of my favorite photos of her.

Photo by Erin Kass
Snuggling with her Quincy pug. 
Enjoying her yogurt
Showing off her blog t-shirt.
The first year I had her. Look how chunky she was! Photo by Erin Kass
She learned to like car rides!
Wearing her Grippers, grudgingly. She was the master of "poor pitiful me" looks.
She never learned to like swimming, but the float was a compromise. 
From Dogs Gone Swimming. She tried to eat a giant cookie whole and choked herself that day. Photos by Feist
From the 1000 Pugs photo shoot in New Jersey. 
Possibly my all time favorite photo. She had such sass. Photos by Feist
Modeling her costume for the 2012 parade. She was a farmer.

Modeling the Safari jeep and hat for the 2013 parade.

Her official portrait as Norfolk's first Canine Crusader. Photos by Feist
We met a Twitter friend for dinner at the beach. She could barely see but kept watching the sidewalk.   
Easter 2014. She wouldn't stay in a sit for anything. Photos by Feist
I did the best I could for you, Baby Belle. I'd like to think you knew that.

Isabelle is proof that senior rescues deserve that second chance at life. She had a laundry list of medical problems. Any one of them was enough to keep a pug down. Despite all of that, she enjoyed life. I would do it all again, even knowing how it would end. Senior pugs have so much life left to live and so much love to give. I thank her previous owner for surrendering her to Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue, that meant that I got to love her for 5 1/2 years. She was the reason I became a founding member of Pugs U Gotta Save. She is the reason I will continue to work in rescue and encourage people to adopt. Especially seniors.

I want to thank our blog friends for posting for Isabelle and embracing us with love and support. I want to thank our Twitter friends who celebrated Isabelle's life with burgers. If you're on Twitter, search #IsabelleBurgerFriday to see all the tweets. I may be physically alone, but I know I have a huge community of pet lovers out there. All wishing us love and comfort. It really, truly helps.

I hope everyone had a burger (or the treat of your choice) in her memory. We will be sad, but we know she's pain-free and bossing everyone around over the bridge. 


  1. What wonderful memories and photos of Isabelle. We went to one of our favorite restaurants tonight - McKenzie River Pizza - Stan always gets a burger, I usually have a chicken sandwich of some sort - but tonight I had a burger in honor of Isabelle,
    sending lots of love and hugs
    Bailey & Hazel too

  2. What a lovely memorial to a special pup. Sendin ya big hugs!

  3. I just want to send you some hugs. Looks like you gave Isabelle a wonderful life for the short time you were blessed to have her. I loved seeing the pictures and reading what you wrote of her adventures. Thank you for all the hard work you do for rescue.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to share Isabelles life. Your love for her shows in every photo,,, and every word you spoke.
    We are so happy that she came into your life for even 5 years,,, because she certainly was loved. Maybe you were sent from heaven to share your love,,,, and just maybe you have wings,, that we cannot see,,, But one thing we know for sure,,, Isabelle was loved, and she had a wonderful mom who loved her. Thank you for taking the time to share with us,
    We will stay close as your heart heals.

  5. A beautiful tribute post to Isabelle. I know you feel lucky to have had her & loved her, and I am positive she felt the same. I'm so happy you to found each other & she got the chance to be spoiled & well cared for in her senior years. Although I didn't have a burger, we lit a candle & you are constantly in my thoughts. RIP little Isabelle

  6. What a beautiful tribute to Isabelle. She knew you loved her ...

    Love Ellen & The Fab Five
    Zoe, Peyton, Webster, Liberty & Whitney

  7. What a wonderful tribute! Having met you both I think you sell yourself short about how she felt about you! You kept her going when many would have given up! Thanks for sharing her with us!

  8. You're right E, you have many who are sending you prayers and delight in Isabelle's new freedom across the bridge.

    Love, Gampy

  9. That was a heart touching post....we will miss her so much too. My best memory was helping her with eating her frosty paw that Pugapolooza. She was so sweet in her old lady ways!

    Jenn Sequoia and Emma

  10. All dogs are special, some are truly special, Isabelle is one of those

    retro rover

  11. I don't know whether to laugh or cry! that pug for sure knew you loved her. thank you for sharing her with us.

  12. Such a beautiful post for Isabelle. I'm happy she got to spend her last five and a half years where she was loved and taken care of so well. Senior pugs are the best.

  13. We loved all the pictures of Isabelle. It is hard to pick but I think our fav was the yogurt one and that beautiful dress one. Thank you for sharing her life with us. stella rose and momma

  14. I couldn't help but smile while reading all of your great memories. Such a feisty girl! Much love,

  15. It was so nice to hear these stories about Isabelle. She will certainly be missed. I love the video of her chowing down that burger - being a senior pug did not seem to slow down her zest for the good things in life! :) Thank you for sharing her stories and photos with us. We'll keep you in our thoughts during this difficult time.

    Sid and Brian

  16. Bruce, Daisy and I are so sorry to hear about Isabelle.
    We really loved these pictures of her, and the stories you shared. Thank you for sharing these with us.

    -Dana, Daisy & Bruce

  17. What a fantastic life you shared with Isabella, thank you for loving her like you did!

    Meredith & Scarlet

  18. I am just seeing this and with tears in my eyes, I'm sending you all of my love. I'm so very sorry. I know she is at peace but I also know even with that, how your heart must feel. What a beautiful little spirit she was, and the pictures just made my heart swell. How very loved she was.