Adopted Dog Shows Love, Loyalty, and Saves a Life

Jim doesn’t remember the night he got hit by a car. But he knows that Issy was by his side every step of the way.

Jim + Isabelle

Isabelle was a shy adoptee who adapted to her new family by way of daily hikes. When her new dad was hit by a car on one of their walks, Issy’s bravery and tenacity helped save his life.

"Despite all the strangers rushing towards us, the emergency personnel trying to revive me, the sirens, blaring horns, and pandemonium, she stayed beside me. "

We almost didn’t adopt Isabelle (Issy). I first saw her picture as a “featured pet” in my hometown (160 miles away) paper, which arrived after I’d lost my beloved dog of 10 years. At first glance, Issy looked like him. The paper was even dated the day he died. No way was I getting another dog. But then we met Issy, and before long, this lively girl was home.

I soon learned Issy was smart and quick, but skittish (think Tasmanian devil) of strangers, other dogs, and sounds resembling gunfire (I live close to a military base), and required clear personal space. Confining hugs and kisses distressed her. She seemed to be frustrated with pent-up energy. Walking, running, and riding in a car calmed her. Long hikes and exploring trails and woods, the wilder the better, proved to be the solution. I learned to hold the leash firmly or she’d take off at the first triggering sight, scent, or loud sound and it’d take hours to find her. The hikes both stimulated and relaxed Issy (me too). Daily expeditions became our routine.

Isabelle the dog

One winter night, a few years on, we were out for a walk and I groggily awoke in a hospital with no idea, how I’d gotten there. I realized with dread that Issy wasn’t with me. They said I’d been hit by a car. All logic and experience told me that Issy had been hit too, either by that car, or by another, as she’d run in panic—or that she was still running, and in danger. But I later learned from the Samaritans there (who’d seen everything) that Issy had stayed calmly beside me, as I lay unconscious on that dark busy fast road, intently watching over me until she was finally placed in a police car. Despite all the strangers rushing towards us, the emergency personnel trying to revive me, the sirens, blaring horns, and pandemonium, she stayed beside me. Ignoring every instinct and urge telling her to run for her life, she stayed to protect me.

Isabelle the dog

Issy’s quiet, calm loyalty that night helped save both our lives. For a skittish, former stray like Issy, staying wasn’t just a sacrifice, but a leap into unknown territory, requiring enormous courage and strength. And devotion. I’d thought I was protecting her, but she was my guardian all along. Weeks later, still recovering, Issy inspired me to set out again. It was slow at first, but when your companion sees every day as a new adventure, every car trip as a joyride, and every hike a treasure hunt, you want to keep up. Years on, we’re still hiking daily. I don’t remember the accident, but I’ll never forget what Issy taught me that night about character and connection in the face of adversity. Since then, she’s kept me moving forward, helping me to heal stronger, wiser, and more appreciative than I was before. Thank you, Lynchburg Humane Society, for this remarkable soul.

When you adopt a shelter dog, the life you save may be your own.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Jim won Lynchburg Humane Society in Virginia a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.

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