Glen & Ann's Archive

Message to Izzy – May God Bless you abundantly

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

After Glen’s death

January 30, 2008 – Cold, windy, sunny. Ice everywhere. Taught at Granville High this morning – awesome. Will post later. Spent two hours in the woods taking photo of dead leaves. Will post later. Hired a photo assistant to help me haul stuff around and keep me from getting run over, which happens almost daily. Yay!
Going to bring Izzy to meet the hospice nurses, who get in too late usually to meet him.

Izzy and I got a beautiful message from Ann, with whom we shared the powerful experience of Glen’s  death last week. She has a radiant spirituality about her which I will always remember. If you want to forge powerful relationships with people, work in Hospice.

“I do believe animals have a loving spirit,” Ann wrote, “and they too will be  reunited with those they love on the final day.
“Izzy helped my heart heal. I have so many beautiful memories of you, Izzy and myself. The most beautiful being the day Glen died. I will hold these in my heart forever. I will be in touch with you. You, too, have a beautiful spirit. May God bless  you abundantly. Love, Peace and Joy to Izzy and you, as you continue in God’s work. Ann.”
Thanks, Ann, and bless you back. Abundantly.

Izzy/Glen, Saying Goodbye, Pt. 1 (see below)

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

January 26, 2008 – We said goodbye to Glen Saturday at a memorial service attended by friends and family at a local funeral home. Izzy came in early, and went and lay by Glen’s casket for about 30 minutes, until guests arrived. He looked at the casket, which was open, and just lay down near it.
Pastor Sharon Beyer led us in song – “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “Amazing Grace.” The family asked me to read “Tall Timber,” the Carl Sandburg poem I read Glen before he died. Paster Beyer talked about the love Glen had for his family, and said he was an inspiration to truckers everywhere. She also talked about riding with him in the local volunteer fire department, and as a paramedic.
Izzy greeted visitors, mostly hung out with Ann and the family. He bonded with the undertaker, the head of the local highway department and his wife, and got his belly scratched a lot. Izzy, more than any dog I have know, enters into the spirit of whatever place he is in, and was quiet, unobtrusive and affectionate when needed. And that was a lot.
Ann thanked family and friends, the Hospice staff, and also Izzy, who she said carried20 her like a cloud. A beautiful image. Below, I got this photo of Izzy and the hands of Glen’s family, and this picture does tell a thousand words. So I’ll leave it there, and once again thank Glen’s family for permitting and encouraging these photos, which not only document the presence and passing of a good man, but the power of a dog to uplift people, and also the hospice idea – quite powerful to me – that while death is sad, it need not be uncomfortable, lonely, without dignity, or depressing. Glen died a  good death, the death he wanted and deserved.
And a nod to my dog, Izzy, who has a gift and is using it.

Everywhere I looked at Glen’s Funeral, somebody was hugging or touching Izzy.  I told him he ought to think about a career in the ministry.

Izzy and Glen, Saying Goodbye, Pt. 2 (see above)

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Paster Beyer conducting the service for Glen

During the service, Izzy stayed mostly by Ann’s side, moving at the end to a spot under a nearby chair. He stayed close to Glen’s family during the two-hour service, during which he hardly moved.
After his initial visit, he did not approach Glen’s casket, or look back, except at Ann, to whom he returned twice. I don’t know if there is a God, or if there is a heaven, but if so, these two loving creatures will meet again. The relationship that developed between Izzy and Ann was perhaps the most powerful thing I have witnessed in my experience living with, studying and writing about dogs and their interactions with people. It was the strongest bond he has experienced in hospice work.
I believe her spirituality and need combined to send him a signal his very keen, people-centered instincts picked up on. Ann was both loving and open about her grief, and she showed emotion, and needed comfort in a way that was not only appropriate, but possible for him to provide. Sometimes, they seemed to be praying together, a feeling that might say more about me than him.
She would talk to him, pray with him, hug him intensely but also was able to turn away from him to tend to Glen or to her husband and then turn back to Izzy when she needed some grounding, or when he seemed to need her.
I remember how drained, even stricken, Izzy seemed after Glen’s death, holing up by himself, immovable. With Ann, I believe he felt – was – successful, as if his work was paying off. And it was.
I will always remember the bond between the two of them, something unspoken, intimate and quite powerful, a testament to what dogs can mean to people at points in their lives.
It was quite beautiful, even at a sad time. As always, I am cautious about anthopomorphisizing,
but Izzy seemed very reluctant to leave Ann, to walk out of that funeral home.  A lot of people wanted to say goodbye to him.
It seemed he had more to do. And we do. We see our next hospice patient next week.

Saying goodbye: “Goodbye, Izzy,” Ann told him, as the funeral concluded. “I thank you and I love you.”
She said during the service that Izzy came into her life and held up like a cloud when she need him. They seemed to talk to one another.

Seeing it Through – Glen’s Funeral

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

January 26, 2008 – Izzy and I went to Glen’s funeral this afternoon, and the family has requested that we continue the Hospice Journal through to the end, so I will be posting pictures of Izzy’s final work on behalf of Glen and his family, which was as touching at the funeral home as it was at the time of Glens’ life. Those will be posted later tonight.
In the meantime, I have had many requests – too many to count – to re-post a photo of Izzy moving onto Glen’s second bed, dejected, after he died. I gather the picture was replaced or taken down or is not available for some reason. In any case, I am re-posting it, also a photo of Ann that afternoon. Izzy is at her feet. He isn’t in the photo, but the picture is very powerful, taken some time before Glen’s death, and Ann, who was praying at the time, has given permission for me to use it, and I thank her and John for that. At the service, she said that Izzy lifted her like a magical cloud when she needed it, and I choked up at that.

Glen/Izzy – Final Chapter

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

January 24, 2008 – As Glen neared the end, Izzy turned his attention more and more to Ann. The two locked onto one another, turning to each other for comfort.
It seemed whenever I looked, Ann was praying with Izzy or talking to him, and he was fixed on her. At times, he never took his eyes off her, checking on me from time to time, as if to ask if this was right.
After Glen died, Izzy seemed spent, and were he a human, I would have said he looked depressed, almost stricken. Below, Ann went over to him – he was lying completely still on a bed Glen often used – and enveloped him. The two embraced for a long time, something they both seemed to need.
There was a point – the hospice officials call it “actively dying,” where the patient sometimes seems to move past the need of a dog in the same way they do when they are alert and active. Then, Izzy turns to the family, so his work is clearly in two parts: first, the patient, then family members who are receptive to him. If they ignore him, or are distracted, he leaves them alone. I am not sure if his reaction to Glen’s death was physical or in some way behavioral. He seemed utterly exhausted, and it suggested to me that he was working, all the time. He was looking to me for cues, then acting on his own, usually correctly and always appropriately.
It didn’t matter to the family – his support was quite striking. Izzy clearly reacted to Glen’s death, moving on himself. I was pleased to see how much of a difference he made. Not only did he connect to Glen, he simply brightened the house, lightened the atmosphere, provided unconditional love to people who needed it, and were beyond exhaustion and struggling themselves.
Izzy was still throughout the night, returning to normal this morning, running around with Rose, interested in the sheep. Glen’s family has graciously invited him to funeral services, and we will be there.

Below, the point when Ann noticed how down Izzy seemed, and she went over to comfort him.
I told Izzy this morning that this was his calling. Maybe mine, as well. And hospice called – we have another patient to see. Good.

Final Chapter, Izzy’s eyes

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

January 24, 2008 – Izzy is a relentlessly cheerful, up, kind of dog, happy to see everybody, happy to go just about anywhere with me. After Glen died, I looked through the camera and was startled to see this look in Izzy eye’s. Dogs are not human, and I am always cautious about attributing human emotions to them, something it is difficult, if not impossible to do. But I have been haunted by these images, looking at them more than once. I suppose his eyes ought to speak for themselves.
Perhaps he was checking on me, or perhaps communicating with me. I guess I don’t really know. There was a lot of mystery in that room in the Adirondacks, and perhaps it ought to stay that way.

Final Chapter, 2 – Comforting Izzy (see below)

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

continued from below

Izzy was so still for so long after Glen’s death, and seemed so worn,  that Ann went over to sit with him while she looked through the family photo album for pictures of Glen and his family. I can’t claim to know what goes on in a dog’s mind, but Izzy, the most cheerful of animals, looked stricken.
The bond between Ann and Izzy was remarkable over the past few days, deepening by the day. He locked onto her, and she prayed with him, held him, talked to him. The two were intensely focused on one another, and when he seemed to need some comfort, as she had, she provided it, as he had. Watching these two loving spirits take turns lifting one another up was profoundly moving, a testament to the interaction between dogs and humans that I will not forget.


In the last few weeks, visiting Glen, working with his family, Izzy and I were confonted with some challenging, intense situations. I can’t say enough about how effective our hospice training was, how well-prepared we were. The hospice workers are amazing, each one.