WDP - Izzie the Rescue Dog
I spent a lovely afternoon recently with Shannon, who is Izzie’s owner. She is a kind and warm-hearted animal lover, so it was no surprise that when she saw Izzie advertised for free on Facebook, that she decided she had to do something.
Already working with local dog rescue centres and fostering dogs in need, Shannon decided to foster Izzie while she was found a new and loving home. With two dogs of her own Shannon could only foster Izzie for a short time but at least could give her respite until a suitable new owner could be found. The plan was to assess her and find her a new home without her needing to go into kennels.
As she settled in, Izzie’s back story began to emerge. She had been found wandering the streets for quite some time fending for herself, and she had become well known in the area. Shannon asked around and It appeared that Izzie had been passed from pillar to post for quite some time, moving from one owner to another.
As she was underweight and had never been vaccinated, she went to the vets and there they found old injuries and scars, including to her mouth. The vet scanned Izzie and it transpired she had a European chip. Further investigation found that she had been at a Romanian dog sanctuary where stray dogs and unwanted dogs were put down on a regular basis. It transpired that Izzie had been found on wasteland as a puppy with one of her siblings and her mother. All the dogs were in a dreadful condition, and Izzie was the only puppy to survive. She is still scarred from parvo to this day. A kind lady in Romania saved her from the streets and a place called ‘save the death camp dogs’ worked with this lady to bring her to the UK to care for her and she found her way into a UK dogs home. She then had no less than ten homes as she was passed around dog homes and individual owners during the next three years.
Despite all of this, Izzie was and still is, a very gentle natured dog and her loving nature shone through.
Within just a few days of fostering Izzie, she had settled in so well that Shannon and her husband decided that they had fallen for her charms and she had found her new forever home with them and their two dogs.
When Shannon‘s mum became ill with cancer, Izzie would visit and she showed everyone the caring side of her character. She was calm, supporting and loving with someone who needed company and was battling a severe illness. Shannon saw the effect that Izzie could have on people and decided to put her forward as a therapy dog. She brought Izzie through the training and the assessment process. It was a difficult time, but training Izzie to become a therapy dog was a kind of therapy for Shannon herself too.
Assessment involves applying online and there is quite a lot of criteria you must meet. There is also an assessment at a centre where dogs have to be supervised for behaviour in situations where there is noise and distraction with people. At all times they have to show gentleness and calm.
Izzie now works with regular visits meeting hospice patients and teenagers with anxiety and other issues. She knows when to be happy and when to be calm. When she is at school, with bells ringing and children running about, Izzie just takes it all in her stride. It all just seems natural to her.
Izzie really brings people out of themselves. Shannon and Izzie work with the pastoral team at one of the schools they visit. Every week, a group of students with physical and mental health issues meet up in their well-being room. It has sofas, beanbags, gentle lighting and plants – all designed for a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Izzie started her visits in February 2019. All the children would just sit in silence, but now they are excited to see her, chatting and animated. Izzie has even made it to their school newsletter! This is a clear illustration of the important difference therapy dogs can make to people’s lives.
Izzie also helps to raise awareness about therapy dogs in fund raising events for the charity. People are naturally drawn to her and Shannon is so proud of Izzie and pleased she is able to give something back, especially as a lot of people have helped Izzie in her life.
It’s amazing to think that Izzie has travelled thousands of miles on a journey sometimes hard and sometimes cruel and still has so much love to offer everybody she meets. She has an amazing soul and it was a pleasure and a privilege to meet this incredible dog.