This is the love story as told to me by Haley Simon Panzera, mama of Miss Lilly Belle, the Jack Russel Terrier from North Carolina.
Tell me about the first time you met Miss Lilly Belle, when and where was it? How did you feel and what made you feel that way?
Truth be told, my sister had gotten a Jack Russel, and she was a sassy one. I was in love! I wanted one too. She was from a mom and pop breeder. When I asked my husband, he said, “No, we have three boys and can’t afford a puppy.” You see, I was going to Florida once a month because my grandfather was 92 and ill. I was very distressed. Between visits to Florida, we went to the breeder which was a large farm, and played with Holly, Lilly’s mom. We met Miss Lilly Belle when she was two days old, the size of a mouse, and it was love at first sight. The boys were with me and we were all in love. Every week we’d visit the farm and play with the pups. She was so tiny and pretty. This was a distraction from all my responsibilities, my happy place. I learned my grandfather had passed and I was devastated. After the funeral my husband said to me “when we get home, go get your puppy.” You see I had given the breeder $50.00 to hold her for me and did not tell my husband. The grief I was feeling at the loss of my grandfather was helped by the love of this puppy. When we brought her home, I carried her around in a puppy pouch. She was attached to my chest and rested whenever I went out. She was my baby and always with me. She was so tiny and got a ton of attention. Everywhere we went people stopped us to see her. No one turned us down except one time at Golden Corral. Someone complained to the management that there was a dog in the restaurant. The manager came out and saw how tiny and cute she was, he told us to meet him in the back of the restaurant! Whenever we returned, we would bring her in back and they brought her bones! She was wonderful! She was full of fun and surprises, she never got mad for long. There was this once when she got stuck in a pretzel barrel and the three boys and I had to get her out, never a dull moment.
Thinking back, how would you describe Miss Lilly Belle’s personality as a puppy? And as an adult?
She was very mischievous. As a puppy, she was the sweetest baby, playful, fun, and just the sweetest. She was sassy, if she was running somewhere and you’d call her she’d wait for you there. Once you reached her, she’d look at you and then run away and never come! The boys said, “She would never listen, she wasn’t trained.” She was my baby. Miss Lilly wasn’t an adult until thirteen, she behaved like a puppy for all that time, I heard it’s a breed thing. She was challenging, loving, and sassy. People say hyper, but she was a sport dog but then come and cuddle in my lap. She got along well with other animals, our cat was eighteen, three legs and blind would cuddle up with Miss Lilly. Miss.Lilly was a playful, loving fur baby.
And now how would Miss Lilly Belle describe your personality, Haley?
I don’t know, she would tell you how much she was loved, and she had a good life. There was only one time I left her for two weeks, only time, she was about one and a half. She had never been away from me. I left her at the vet’s, she didn’t eat, and they didn’t do anything! After that, she went everywhere with me, I never boarded her again. She slept in bed with me. She knew how much she was loved, and she was happy. She sat in my lap on the plane all the way to Florida. She would say I am a pushover and that she had me trained well. She loved to love and life until she couldn’t from cancer.
What did you learn from Miss Lilly Belle?
She taught me about animals and life. I learned that the quality of life is better than quantity. I tried everything in my power to keep her with me. I know now that it is better to let them go one day early than 1 day too late. When she crossed the rainbow bridge my heart was shattered into a million little pieces. Once again, I was devastated. I gave one of those pieces of my heart to a new rescue baby. I took three days to get another baby, that’s how I have Luci.
What are top the three things you always want to remember about your love?
1. How much fun she was. The joy she brought in our lives.
2. How much chaos she put in my life! Never a dull moment.
3. Unconditional love and joy no matter what, no matter how awful I felt, she loved me no matter what.
When did Miss Lilly Belle earn her wings?
May 11, 2018
When did you join Paws?
Within a couple of days after she passed, but I am not exactly sure.
Do you remember how you found Paws?
I joined a lot of groups about dog cancer and holistic sights before Miss Lilly Belle passed. But I think you found me.
What has or is helping you get to the other side of grief? What advice would you share with someone who recently started grieving?
You guys have had a lot, I learned about letting them go. When I had surgery I came out of anesthesia, I had a dream, so glad I wrote it down. There was the rainbow bridge, I could see gorgeous, vivid colors, mountainous, beautiful trees, and a unicorn! A white horse with a gold horn came over to my car. And, as it was approaching me the horn was disappearing. I remember seeing Miss Lilly Belle off to the side watching me. I touched the horse and looked deep into her eyes. I felt a peace that I never felt before. I wish I could have held Miss Lilly Belle.
Where are you now in your grief?
After that dream and after reading things you’ve written and the group I know she’s fine. Cancer literally broke her spine. I knew I had given her the best possible life, and that she is going to die. My heart was broken; I wanted to save her. The vet said no chemo at fifteen and a half years old. I turned to a holistic journey for the next four to five months. My vet gave me a card to Lap of Love. This is where the vet comes to your house to allow you to hold your baby while they are passing in your arms. My husband came home, my sister came, and we were talking and holding her while she went to sleep in my arms. A beautiful, horrible day. They put Miss Lilly Belle in a basket-like she was sleeping. They gave me a paw print and a lock of her hair. They also gave me a flower to plant in her memory. My regret is that end of life should have come sooner than what I put her through, all kinds of different things to try and save her. I gave her CBD, dandelion root, but I learned a lot, and I will not do it again.
Using your spiritual and intuitive mind,
If I could get a message to Miss Lilly Belle from you, what would you want to say? What would you want to let Miss Lilly Belle know?
I am so sorry for keeping you as long as I did. No suffering, and now run free, my free spirit.
And if I could get a message from you to Miss Lilly Belle what would you like to know?
That she forgives me and knows how much I loved her; she gave me the best life ever. That she forgives me. Everyone saw it but me. I cared for her like an infant, I bought her a stroller, a wheelchair, wee-wee pads, and I thought we could fight this! I took you everywhere and we did everything! Her last weekend My son held her out of the car
window so she could get the fresh air, we took her to Outback for a hamburger, we did all the things she loved.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your Paws Pack about Miss Lilly Belle? She wouldn’t go outside unless she wore her pink jacket. She was a spoiled princess, she was my heart, my vivacious little girl and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Usually, people rescue animals but she rescued me from the grief when my grandfather died.