Goodbye Ira J, Our Favorite Friend, Our Dog

It’s a funny thing, being a dog owner.  When you get them, you know in the back of your mind that someday they will die and that as their owner, there is a chance that you must be counted on to make end of life decisions for them.  You might even have to pick the actual date of their passing.  For me, that day was Monday June 17, 2013.  That is the night that my dear sweet dog Ira J left us.

Ira J

I’d always wanted a dog growing up, but my Mom didn’t.  So it was not until I was in my mid 20’s that I finally got my first dog, Stella (who I affectionately like to think of as the worst dog in the world).  Because of Stella’s neediness, separation anxiety and constant peeing on my floor, we decided she might benefit from a companion.  Hearing about a white boxer at the Bide A Wee shelter, my boyfriend (now husband and favorite Chiropractor) went to check him out. He had a giant head, and he was so skinny you could count his ribs. He was fearful of every person he saw, except for me.  He was perfect.  So, despite living in a 750 square foot apartment already inhabited by two humans and a dog, we brought Ira J home to Stella.

I wish I could say it was love at first sight.  And if love means trotting over to your mate’s bed and peeing on it, then Stella loved Ira right away.  I didn’t need to pee on his bed, I was already smitten. And I knew the feeling was mutual when he would come up to me and lean against my legs in order to be petted.  It was 6 months before he would do that with Craig, and close to a year before he would go up to other people. But as time went on, he grew to trust and love us.  Eventually going up to anyone who showed him affection for petting, and he put on close to 20 pounds, becoming a large, hunky, beautiful dog.

He ate paper (my husband once had the unfortunate task of removing a 20 dollar bill which got stuck coming out. I’ll let you guess where it was coming from). He chased his shadow and was convinced that he was a lap dog, despite his eventual weight of 75 pounds.  He was a good, solid companion to his lady friend Stella.  They spent many hours running around and romping, barking out the window, rolling in the grass and cuddling in their bed.  He hated being cold or wet which made the weather of NYC and Chicago a challenge for walks.  He loved popcorn and belly rubs.  He tolerated the kids.  I think his affection grew for them once they started throwing food down from the high chair that he could forage.  And he could easily get any food you threw at him by leaping into the air and catching it in his massive mouth.

Ira J & Stella

When we got to California, we noticed blood when he went to the bathroom and his energy level was significantly decreased.  It was cancer.  He was by now 10 years old, we decided to give him the best life possible for as long as possible.  And for a while, it was ok.  And then it wasn’t.  And that tiny thought that comes when you get a dog reared its ugly head.  It’s time. And so we made the extremely difficult decision to put Ira J down.

It has only been a short while, and we are slowly adjusting to life without him.  As with the loss of anything or anyone, it’s the little things that get you.  Only hearing one voice barking, putting food out for only one, grabbing the single leash instead of the double. And for me, the saddest thing is to see Stella, alone in her bed with no one to cuddle. But that is what cycle of life is… we are born, we live, we die. Let’s take our cue from Ira J and live the best life possible.  Let’s romp with our friends, eat paper and roll around in the grass.  Or whatever your human equivalent of that is!

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Me & Ira J, our favorite lapdog, & our daughter




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About the Author: Courtney Abrams is a Health Coach and Founder of Roslyn Wellness. Trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she helps clients work within the realities of their day to day lives to find ways to make small and manageable changes to their health that can maintained over time. Her clients include people trying to lose weight, beat sugar, increase their energy, cook simple healthful food and reduce stress to name a few. She also shares a passion for food policy and educating people about the foods they are eating and the governmental role behind much of it. You can learn more about Courtney and Roslyn Wellness at

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