Izzy the Matchmaker 09/12/2016 By Kate Mudge In July 2013, I adopted a dog from Pet Haven. She had been an “unwanted puppy living under someone’s house.” Abused and under-socialized, Izzy was a one-year-old shepherd mix who needed some serious TLC. During this time, I had gone through many ups and downs and felt as though taking care of another life would be helpful. Yet first, I needed to move. I searched websites such as Craigslist to find housing. Then OKCupid for a date and, finally, Petfinder for a new companion! I saw Izzy’s profile on Petfinder five days after I moved into my new home. Tyson (Izzy’s foster Dad) brought her for a visit the following day. It was a match made in heaven. The next day, I adopted her. Although she’d had her fair share of “ups and downs”, poor Izzy did not know how to use stairs. She did not understand a single command. Shut down, she showed no interest in toys or games. And for the first few days, she kept to herself- hiding in the yard, under the coffee table or the dining room table. Yet we started to bond right away. The first time I vacuumed the floors, she supervised me intently. And when I finished, she licked my face, as if telling me “I did a good job!” And when I made salmon for dinner, she came to the kitchen and sat down (I had started to teach her “sit”) and looked at me-bright-eyed, drooling- as if to say, “I get salmon for sitting, right? GOOD JOB, Marta!” And so it started… Izzy cracking me up. Watching her learn and grow made me tremendously happy. She started to engage me in chase games, although I could never quite figure out the rules. I’m pretty sure she won every time. The dog who did not know a single command was the top student in training classes. And she always made me laugh. I remember one time the instructor wanted to demonstrate a scenario on Izzy, and she said “watch” to get her attention. Izzy looked at the trainer, cocked her head, thought for a while, then turned to “watch” me! The entire class broke up. And then there was Izzy’s ever-expanding sound repertoire – snorting, high-pitch goings on, and howling. Dead serious howling. I first heard her howl to the whistle of my tea kettle. Now it’s mostly fire trucks and emergency sirens. We live close to an emergency road so I get to hear Izzy howl several times a week. And yet it never ceases to crack me up. She is so serious and so pleased with herself, that girl. Izzy came into my somewhat lonely life and changed it forever. My Facebook posts became more interesting! Every day, I wondered, what will this dog do next? She learned to walk stairs. She learned how to push doors open. She took over my chair. She invented new games. Yet Izzy had bigger plans for me. I met a woman at work who told me about the off-leash dog park by the Mississippi River. She had a dog and I had a dog, so we became regulars at the park three times each week. Izzy loved Michele’s dog Frankie- they chased each other like lunatics. And Izzy loved Michele (Izzy is a very perceptive dog!) It did not take Izzy long to hatch her master plan, which resulted in Michele and I falling in love and moving in together. When Michele picked up Izzy on the move day, her old address tag snapped off her collar in the car – Izzy was not going back, and neither was I. I love having Izzy in my life, going to the dog park together and witnessing her unending enthusiasm for food, barking, and(unsuccessful) pursuits of backyard chipmunks. This alone made my life more … fun. But more importantly, this dog brought me here—she got me “unstuck” in life. It must have been terrifying for Izzy to come home with me that afternoon in July. She was so uncomfortable indoors. She kept a far distance. And yet, almost immediately, she found moments – moments of joy (salmon???), play, curiosity. I kept the back door open for Izzy when I was home. At first, I had to lure her indoors every time. But within days, she would dash inside, look at me as if to say, “I was sitting but you didn’t see?”, get her biscuit and dash back out! It’s one thing to read about animals’ amazing abilities to recover from hardship, yet it’s another to be part of their journey. And being part of Izzy’s story changed my story. So here I am- living my life, surrounded by love. And dog hair. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And neither would she.