I’ve been putting off writing this blog for over three weeks now, ever since we put our dog, Sophie to sleep on August 27th. I wanted to write it to pay tribute to her, just as I did when we lost her brother, Max in January. I know writing can be very therapeutic for me.
But up till now I had just been too sad to write it - I am taking this very hard - on top of missing Sophie, I feel the culmination of my other losses - first my dad 3/2/17, then my mom 12/2/18 and Max on 1/22/19. It’s been a tough couple years with some other major challenges thrown in there as well! I feel very alone at times without Sophie to cuddle, and the house is so empty without a pet. We’ve owned a dog or dogs our whole marriage, over 30 years! It’s not easy to adjust to. Late afternoons and evenings are the hardest for me - I just get tired and cranky or down and don’t feel like doing much of anything - not every day but off and on. I know it's probably normal, but I just want to be happy and excited about life again. My dh is understanding to a point, but he is just realistic about the whole thing ("it is what it is") and has moved on. So I don’t talk about my feelings to him too much anymore. I try to focus on my blessings, because there are many of them, and I also keep working on staying healthy, because I definitely don’t want to go back to eating emotionally and gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. I am keeping busy and doing some new things to try to spark creativity and motivation. I made this month’s main goal to be patient with myself, and I am trying to do that, although it’s hard some days!
So here I am now, finally feeling ready to write about Sophie, to celebrate her whole life, so I’m not thinking about just the sad last few months of it (although I’ll write a little about that, too.) I’m doing this for me, to get it all out (so it will be LONG,) but appreciate anyone who comments, as I know there are many SparkFriends out there who are animal lovers and/or have pets and understand the great love and loss of a furry family member. Since I recently wrote a blog in July with tons of pictures of Sophie for "All American Pet Photo Day,” I’m going to try to find different ones (I have a lot!) Here is that blog and also the one I wrote about Max.
Sophie was with her brother, Max her whole life, until he passed away, so she was like that younger sibling in the family who rarely gets a picture taken without the brothers/sisters in it! I did try to take individual photos of them every so often, but they were together so much!
They weren’t real brother and sister, although they were the same breed- Cairn terrier. We got Sophie after our yellow lab, Weber passed away, because Max seemed lost without him and was still young (3, I think.) Sophie came from a breeder in Las Vegas and flew to us on an airplane in October, 2007! I don’t remember too much of when she was real little, but here are a couple pictures I have of just her as a puppy.
Guess she slept a lot! Lol
I like this one, because she went through this stage when her one ear was up and the other down!
This was my Christmas picture of her (she tolerated the little jingle bell collar well!)
I remember being real surprised that Sophie, the younger, smaller female kind of bossed Max, the bigger, older male! She wasn’t mean to him (much! LOL) but she was definitely the "alpha dog" and he was more laid back. They weren’t the best of friends, since they had different personalities, but they loved each other and were near each other a lot, even sleeping together in one crate. So, after awhile, most of my pictures were of them together.
I have no idea what they were doing here - but one seemed to be copying the other!
I didn’t realize until today how many pictures I have of them on a sofa or chair together! And these are just a few of MANY!
And laying together, and taking their daily walks together, of course...
This one makes me laugh, because their hair was so shaggy and funny, you couldn’t see her eyes! Max loved the raft at our pool in PA, but she was scared to death of it, so we didn’t keep her on it long.
My most fond memories with both Sophie and Max were during the times we were RVing with them. In the RV while we were driving, Max liked to sit up in the passenger seat with me, but Sophie loved “her” sofa!
Here she is during a little hike.
And walking through the fall leaves...
Here’s our son, Sean loving on Sophie!
And just a couple outside at some campgrounds
We gave Sophie a couple different nicknames - I called her Sophie-kins, because she was so cute, and Dave affectionately called her Hoover and Whirling Dervish, because she gobbled her food down like a vacuum cleaner, and spun around when she was excited about going out or getting fed!
She’s being patient waiting for dinner here!
For some reason she didn’t keep her ears up all the time, and when they were down, we thought she looked like a homeless dog - so sad! When I was taking her picture and she had her ears down, I would try to get them up by saying, “Ears up!” in a high pitched voice. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t!
Here she is with my friend, Kim’s daughter - with a pretty bow, but with her homeless look!
And this one was taken when we were at a campground around Halloween, and we dressed them up like little devils! She had something to say about that- not sure what though! Lol
When I retired and we moved down to Florida, both dogs adjusted beautifully, although I often wondered what they thought about our move and the new house, which was much smaller and different with the big screened in “birdcage.” Here they are checking things out when we first moved in when it was so empty before we got the new furniture.
They quickly got real spoiled having us around every day, not having to go to work. And I had time to take more and more pictures of them!
Sophie was funny with their basket of toys-sometimes she would want to play with a specific one for just a few minutes, then she’d lose interest. Other times she would root around in the basket and wouldn’t find a single one she liked, even when I dumped them all out!
She also wouldn’t stay in one place very long- she would cuddle with me for just a short time, and then get down and go off somewhere else. We’d say, “Where is Sophie now?” She’d move from one location to another, from a chair to the rug to the sofa to the tile floor!
“Oh, there she is!”
This is a rare photo of her up on Dave- she wasn’t there long!
One thing we could count on - if we had the doors open to the birdcage, she’d be on the prowl for a little lizard. She LOVED to chase after and kill them, whereas Max had absolutely no interest! I really think Sophie was part cat!
“Where did it go?”
When Max died, I was so sad without my buddy, but I put all my love and attention on Sophie. She definitely missed him, and I felt bad for her. The last few years Max couldn’t walk far, so now I spent most days taking her for long walks, which she loved.
She had been sick with diarrhea from getting hookworms before Max passed away, and I don’t think she ever fully recovered with her bowels after that. We had her retested for worms several times, but they didn’t find anything. The vet put her on GI food (low fat,) and we had a heck of a time finding something she liked and wouldn’t get her sick. Nothing seemed to work for her loose bowels. Our plump little dog who loved to eat so much got finicky and then started not eating some days. She steadily lost weight, and we eventually knew that there was something seriously wrong and we needed to get more tests done. The results showed a bunch of things, worst was a mass in her liver. The next suggestion was for her to have surgery to get the tumor removed and biopsied, but there were risks for that and it was very expensive. We didn’t want to put her through that at her age (12.) So, Dave and I decided to keep her as comfortable as possible till we saw she was suffering too much. I was devastated to find out she probably wouldn’t be with us long. Max lived to be 15, so I thought we would have her a couple more years. When we told the vet we had a two week trip to Alaska coming up, she looked concerned, and I was very nervous about leaving her. But she liked the kennel where we took her - they gave her good, loving care, plus we knew our son would go get her if she got too ill. As it turned out, my prayers were answered and she made it through till we got home. Sean picked her up on Saturday morning two days before we were back, and he said she was good that day, being very loving and even playing with him. But she had lost even more weight and seemed very weak. We had to make that difficult decision one week later, when she had a very difficult day and we knew it would get steadily worse! I won’t give any more details about that or the day we took her to the vet to have her put to sleep. I was there with her at the end and it was very peaceful. In my mind I now see her over the Rainbow Bridge, romping around with Max and chasing lizards!
Here are a couple of the last pictures I took of my Sophie-kins...
The big question several people have been now asking us is, of course, will be be getting another dog? But I don’t know the answer to that right now. I’d like to think so, eventually, but I think we are going to wait awhile, and see how we do without one, using this time in our lives to go away on day trips or overnight trips whenever we want, without the need to be home at a certain time. We may still get a smaller RV in the future, and if we do, a dog would be able to travel with us. Time will tell - we aren’t in a hurry to decide.
For now, I’m just going to let the grieving process continue for as long as I need to go through it. Each day the “new normal” at home gets a little more comfortable and the pain a little less! I am so grateful for all the years we had with both Sophie and Max -such wonderful memories I will never forget!
RIP, dear Sophie-kins!