This is the love story as told to me by Sandi Ickovits, mama of Arlo the Cocker Spaniel, from Algonquin, Illinois.
Tell me about the first time you met Arlo, when and where was it? How did you feel and what made you feel that way?
I went to meet Arlo in Evanston Illinois at his foster home, God Bless them. They were fostering Arlo because they had an autistic child. Their hope was that Arlo would be a good fit for their child, but unfortunately, Arlo may have stressed him out too much. I remember when I was there, Arlo jumped on the couch and the mother told him, “We don’t let dogs on the couch!” I was looking into Arlo’s eyes and they were saying, “Please take me!” I didn’t like him being in a cage so much. His eyes confirmed that I should adopt him. We had an hour ride until we got home, I learned Arlo was not much of a car rider, but when we got home he was, “ Here is where I am meant to be!”
Thinking back, how would you describe Arlo’s personality as a puppy? And as an adult?
Arlo was very smart; he seemed to have street smarts coming from the streets of the south side of Chicago. He was alert and playful. He learned not to be protective of his food. The longer we spent time together, he became so much more trusting of me. He loved walks. He had a lot of energy, and Arlo was very loyal. As time went on he became more protective. I went through a bout of cancer in 2017. My son went to walk him, but Arlo wasn’t leaving my side as I recovered. I saw that Arlo was going to snap at my son, I had to grab his collar to correct him. I remember my son David getting disappointed, and I reminded him that Arlo doesn’t know him as well as the other two knew you, it’s okay, he will get to know you.
And how would Arlo describe your personality, Sandi?
I hope he would think I was loving and cared compassionately about him.
What did you learn from Arlo?
As a person of faith and God, it was shown to me that Arlo loved unconditionally. In 2018, Arlo and I were both diagnosed with cancer, his was not operable nor curable. He still protected me. His beauty not just physically but inside was amazing. His loyalty and love will never be forgotten. I think it showed me to love unconditionally, no matter what. We had so many similarities with our illness, Arlo was a genuine trooper, I believe much better than I. I sometimes revert back to the feeling I failed him. He put me first before his needs. I would like to be more like that.
What are the top three things you always want to remember about your love?
1. His beauty, inside as well as out. He was gorgeous. I would sit and stare at him. I called him my black beauty.
2. His loyalty and love, it was unbelievable, he followed me everywhere! Always ready for a cuddle or a kiss, I truly knew that this dog really loves me.
3. His protectiveness, he would never leave my side. People would come over, and he would greet them, but never leave me, he would check them out first.
When did Arlo earn his wings?
February 1, 2019
When did you join Paws? Do you remember how you found Paws?
It was March 2019 and I was referred by my friend Joetta.
What has or is helping you get to the other side of grief? What advice would you share with someone who recently started grieving?
Pam, thank goodness for Pam and doing the journaling exercises in her book. I was so stuck in grief and guilt. I kept thinking, “I’m surviving, and Arlo wasn’t.” I found that from time to time going back and reviewing the journaling of my life with Arlo was a big help. I read my journal to remember him so that I never forget. I would say to someone, “Allow yourself time to grieve, don’t put time limits on it, we all need time to grieve. Remember, this is the loss of a companion, they will never leave your heart because of love. It's ok to cry, and even in the future, you may need to cry. This is in loving memories of them. Everyone grieves at different rates, don’t compare your grief to someone else. They are always in your heart. Allow yourself to cry, it’s about how much you loved them, that’s what’s coming thru.
Where are you now in your grief?
I am doing well; I look back to remember him and still cry, but I have been able to function. Around his gotcha date and day, he left I get sad. I don’t think I’ll never stop grieving. With cancer I think I am getting out of the fog, I was struggling to live back then and now I feel like I’m coming out.
Using your spiritual and intuitive mind,
If I could get a message to Arlo from you, what would you want to say? What would you want to let Arlo know?
Arlo, I am sorry. I was a week away from recovering from breast surgery and you needed to go over the bridge. I want you to know I was dying not able to hold you the way I wanted to that day when you were crossing. I am forever grateful for your love and protection. I will always love you. I hope you knew that I loved you more than anything. Always will. BEST DOG EVER!
And if I could get a message from you to Arlo what would you like to know?
If he is ok, and if he knows I love him so much and miss him. Did I have to let you go when I did? Was it the right time? He couldn’t eat because of cancer. I would hear him squeak in his sleep; I didn’t want to let go of him. I wish I knew if he was okay.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your Paws Pack about Arlo?
I encourage those that get stuck in grief to reach out to Pam. I don’t think I could have moved on without her. Arlo touched me in so many ways, his trust, love, and companionship. I didn’t have him long enough. He knew I was his people and that this was his home for three and a half years.