By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Pacific Palisades’ Izzy the husky earned the top prize at “Good Morning America’s” inaugural Pet of the Year Awards in December 2019.
Izzy, a 5-year-old female husky, and her human companion, Melissa Foster, moved to the Palisades from El Paso, Texas, in May of last year.
Foster shared that a longtime dream of hers was to live by the ocean, so she chose the Palisades—and has been absolutely loving it.
“Of all areas I looked at in LA, I feel the most at peace surrounded by the serene and breathtaking views of Pacific Palisades,” Foster shared. “The weather is superb, all of the people I have met have been so welcoming, I’m so joyful and grateful that I was able to move here.”
Foster and Izzy began working as a pet therapy team in 2016. When they moved to LA, they looked for ways to continue giving back to the community.
“As soon as we moved here, we knew we wanted to continue being a pet therapy team, so we did everything we needed to do,” Foster said.
Together, they joined UCLA People-Animal Connection in August 2019. PAC is a renowned Animal-Assisted Therapy and Activity program that allows dogs and their human partners to offer their company to ill children and adults each month.
Every other week for two hours, Izzy and Foster visit with patients who request pet therapy at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center and Mattel Children’s Hospital. Izzy enjoys stopping by the children’s floor first, then making rounds to other patients over the course of her two-hour visit.
“It’s not just for the patients—when we’re at the hospital, she brings joy to visitors of the patients, the staff, doctors, nurses,” Foster said. “She brings happiness to everybody.”
Foster had the idea to nominate Izzy for “Good Morning America’s” Pet Awards after hearing about the competition in early October; pet awards was something new to the duo. After submitting Izzy’s nomination and telling “Good Morning America” why Izzy deserves the prize, she began to receive emails from the producers requesting more photos and details about Izzy’s story. Before she knew it, they were being flown to New York City as finalists.
“It was amazing,” Foster shared. “They paid for our round-trip airfare, our hotel, which was two blocks from the studio, they were so nice about everything.”
Finalists were awarded on Friday, December 13, at “Good Morning America’s” studio in Times Square, with categories such as “Most Instagr-animal,” “Most Tail-ented,” “Odd Couple” and more.
Earlier in the competition, Izzy won the “Underdog Award,” an award for an inspiring pet who overcame its own challenges.
“She’s been through a lot,” Foster explained to the Palisadian-Post. Izzy was born with hip dysplasia, an abnormal development of the hip joints, as a result of inbreeding. But Foster was able to rescue her from her breeder, get the right assistance and help treat her.
And most notably, Izzy won the top prize and was named “Good Morning America’s” Pet of the Year. Izzy bested the finalists: Buddy the beagle, Herbee the hedgehog, Waffles the goose and Hemingway, a miniature horse.
“When she received Pet of the Year, it’s so funny, because they said her name and the camera was on her, she was surprised like, ‘What? Who? Me?’ It’s super cute,” Foster shared about Izzy’s response to winning the top prize on the show.
Foster added that they do not plan on submitting an entry for next year’s competition.
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