My client and dear friend, Hazel, passed away in January. I walked Hazel’s dog, Jelly Bean twice a week for over four years. Over the years we became friends and shared secrets that girlfriends share. We would laugh and tell one another about things going on in our lives or of memories from the past. She had more of a reflective sense about life experiences because she was in her nineties. Hazel reminded me so much of my grandmother because both woman were so strong and independent.
Hazel’s love for her dogs is what first bonded us. I began by walking Hazel’s first dog, Jelly Bean II, a handsome Rottweiler mix for about two and a half years. He passed away unexpectedly one evening. Hazel was saddened by the loss of her beloved dog and talked about getting another dog soon after. I thought it was a good idea as well, so because Hazel was ninety three at the time, we thought an older dog would be a good fit. With the help of a friend, we found an eight year old American Eskimo rescued from The Indianapolis Care and Control shelter. Hazel named her new dog, Jelly Bean III :-).
Soon after Hazel adopted Jelly Bean III, she began having health problems. I really feel that because of her love and fight for life, her friends and family, and her dog, she was able to get through some major health issues. In the fall of 2011, Hazel had to go to assisted living at Clear Water Commons on 86th street. She was able to take Jelly Bean (the third) with her. It was difficult for her to let go of her independence by leaving her home, but with the help of her care giver, Beverly and large support network of people, she eventually eased into her new life. She was grateful to have her dog next to her side at her new home because he lifted her spirits on a daily basis.
I continued to walk Jelly Bean III at Clear Water Commons. Instead of walking him in Hazel’s neighborhood like we did in the past, we now walked the strip mall next to her assisted living facility and we did some window shopping at the same time. Hazel became very ill in December 2012, and when I would visit her in the hospital she was always so concerned about her sweet dog, Jelly Bean III. I would tell her that he was safe at my house and that I would never let anything bad happen to him. She asked me if I would take him if she passed away and made sure he had a loving home, I of course promised her I would.
Hazel died January 8, 2013. All that knew her were saddened by her passing, but were so grateful to have met such an amazing and inspiring woman. Leppert Mortuary and Funeral home at 740 East 86th Street in Nora, is pet friendly and allows pets to be included in the funeral service if the family wishes. They also have arrangements for pet cremation and burial. Hazel’s family were happy to agree to let Jelly Bean III come to Leppert Funeral home to say goodbye to his owner. The family said he could actually stay for the funeral and wanted him to be at the burial. They felt that Jelly Bean III was like her child because she had no children with her husband, Norm.
It was an uplifting experience to have him present at the funeral because he was a part of Hazel. Everyone seemed to enjoy having him there and liked giving him a pat on the head. We sat in the very back, just in case we had to make a quick exit for any reason. Everything went smooth and Jelly Bean III was on his best behavior. It was nice that the funeral home allowed us to have him there, it made her funeral a little less sad and made her friends and family smile.
I have now been pet sitting for over ten years and am so amazed and grateful for all of the friends I have made through my job. I really get to know people because their pets are their family. There have been many sad times when pets have passed away and sometimes the pet’s owners. I am so very blessed to have known these people and their pets because they hold a special place in my heart forever.