My sweet girl Sophie in her pretty dress from The Dogcoat Lady.
We brought Sophie home on January 5, 1996. Roger’s mother, Judy, and I had gone down to Sunnyvale to visit a dog rescue run by a woman named Nancy. Nancy had warned me about Sophie, had tried to discourage me, but we really wanted a Boston Terrier and Nancy was on the way to a breeder we planned to visit.
She was such a pretty and regal little girl, still a puppy in energy and spunk. She ran so fast and jumped so high; she never seemed to slow down. Finally, Nancy brought her to us. Judy had a tremendous gift with animals, they seemed to understand her, but Sophie came to me. Twice she clearly picked me. I knew she was mine. She rode the two-hour trip home in my arms.
She wasn’t an easy dog. She was headstrong, willful, and an escape artist. The first couple of years we barely saw her. She would stay just out of reach at the tip of your fingers. Except when she saw an open door. A flash and she was off racing down the middle of the road. We spent a lot of hours driving slowly and calling her name. Often, she would just jump into an open car door like she appreciated a ride home from her adventure. Panting and grinning, she always looked so happy and smug.
The running wasn’t adventure though, not really. Sophie was afraid of love, of belonging. She could always find something more interesting on the other side of a piece of glass. She was full of fear. We never hit her, yet she still flinched every time a hand was raised too quickly. There was always a shadow behind her eyes like she could never completely relax.
She was a fierce girl that was never afraid of a fight. She chased off three juvenile raccoons from our backyard pond one night. On another night, she attacked a skunk mother and baby. By the time we got to her she was rolling over and over with the baby. Roger had to reach down and grab her hoping he grabbed the right black and white creature and pry her teeth off the skunk. I sat with her in the bathtub washing her with tomato puree. Definitely not the trophy she expected.
Over the years she mellowed. She learned to snuggle, usually at our feet. She liked me to kiss her belly. She found contentment in a cushion in the sun and barking at phantom creatures invading her yard. Each time she would be sick or injured she would let us do a little more for her. She even learned to sit on our laps.
In the past few months she had started having seizures. A proud dog with an athletic body, she began to lose her physical strength and become a mere mortal. The seizures took so much from her, but she fought back. On Saturday, we came home to find her having a mild seizure that wouldn’t stop. We took her to the vet where she stayed overnight. We don’t know what it was, a brain tumor, a stroke, or some other ailment.
On Sunday, the vet released her to come home with us. We spent all day holding her while she slept. Occasionally she would want to get up and pace in a circle. On Monday I stayed home and held her in my arms all day long. Her head resting against my heart. I fed her baby food through a food syringe. We snuggled, slept, and ate in the rocking chair.
Last night we took her to bed. I held her in my arms and we slept, fitfully. This morning, she got up with Roger, she ate and drank from a bowl and he brought her back to bed. She snuggled up next to me and we fell asleep. When I awoke, she was gone. She died peacefully and quietly in my arms.
I will miss her sitting on the concrete steps blinking in the sun. I will miss her insisting on tummy kisses. I will miss her coming in from the back yard smelling like rosemary and sunshine. I will miss her prancing little feet. I will miss her defiant yodel. I will miss her soft fur. I will miss her curled up between my knees at night. I will miss her greeting me at the door when I come home. I will miss her terribly.
I am so grateful for the journey we took together. In ten years she taught me so much. She is my first dog and a great love of my life. She came into my life in my arms and she left my life in my arms.
Thank you Sophie. You take a piece of my heart with you, but I have so much more to give now because of you. Run free sweet girl. I love you. I’ll love you forever.