Goodbye to Izzy- The Hospice Therapy Dog Who Inspired Me


News came this week that Izzy, dog to best selling author, Jon Katz (and who happens to be my favorite author) has a fast growing cancer. He is being laid to rest today. I cried reading the news.

Izzy was a wonderful dog to many patients in hospice, along with Jon’s other dog, Lenore, a black Lab. Jon wrote about their experiences in his book, “Izzy and Lenore: Two Dogs, a Journey and Me.” He also blogged often about their work and I was often moved to tears. It was because of their work that I began to give thought to having a therapy dog and visiting hospice.

I was initially nervous about hospice work- afraid to see people who are dying. But Jon’s accounts of the lives Izzy and Lenore were touching had a profound affect on me. Though I was still scared, I’m glad I finally gave it a try- I’ll never be the same again.  As most of you know since I’ve wrote about it before, hospice work with Frankie has been so very rewarding.  And I have Izzy to thank.

Though I’m sad for the loss of Izzy and my heart feels heavy for Jon and Maria, I also feel happiness for all that Izzy not only taught me, but so many people around the world. He will never be forgotten. Jon wrote a post about Izzy today called “Spirit Dog: A Million Sunsets” and at the end he said, “You are a spirit dog, and spirit dogs never really die, do they?”  No Jon, I don’t believe that spirit dogs ever die, but live on in our hearts forever.  I know Izzy will live on in the hearts of many for a very long time to come.

In honor of Izzy the independent bookstore in Jon’s area, Battenkill Books is selling copies of John’s book “Izzy and Lenore” and proceeds will go to hospice. Jon will also sign each book as you wish. I’ve already ordered a copy for the hospice facility Frankie and I volunteer at and will be proud to present it to them along with a donation in honor of Izzy.  If you wish to order a copy of his book please visit

Goodbye Sweet Izzy….



Hospice Heart

Frankie taking a well deserved nap after her hospice volunteer work today

Frankie and I have been a volunteer therapy dog team visiting Sharon S Richardson Hospice since October 2008.  As many of you know I semi-retired Frankie earlier this year so now we only visit hospice every other month.

I find myself treasuring each moment of our work together these days even more. Because we aren’t doing as much volunteer work, now when I get the chance I hold onto every good feeling I get from this very soul fulfilling work.

When I decided to become a volunteer with hospice I kept hearing you had to have a “hospice heart.” Not everyone is cut out to work or volunteer in hospice. But I have no doubt that all dogs have hospice hearts. Frankie led me to this volunteer work which I am happy to say I do believe I now have a hospice heart. I’ve learned to appreciate every person we encounter when visiting hospice no matter where they’ve been or what they’ve done or what they believe in.

I’ve learned that those in hospice may have limited months, days or hours, but they are still living.  And I think that some times those in hospice are doing more living than those of us that have not been given a specific number of days or months to live.  It’s always a reality check for my own life as I head home.

As I appreciate each and every visit Frankie and I do, I find myself driving home so happy for having the opportunity to do this work with Frankie. I find myself reaching over and petting Frankie often, telling her how much she means to me and thanking her for all she teaches me. My heart simply oozes with a joy and love I can’t truly explain… but I suppose that must be what is called a hospice heart.