Sophie’s Story – a Christmas Tail

Recently I was searching through my collection of photos on the computer. It was definitely time to weed out the thousand or so of pictures no one would ever see…including me.

It is a kind of thankless task, this weeding. Most of the pictures were of unidentifiable blades of grass blowing dramatically in the wind or out of focus faces. Or in-focus faces I didn’t recognize.

But one series of pictures brought back some funny, lovely, sad memories of Sophie, a tiny white poodle who found her way to me for such a very short time… and the journey that made her mine.

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I thought it was a little too soon, getting another pet when my dear cat Romeo had only been gone a very short while. But my daughter was very insistent. “You’re moping,” she said. “You need another pet. Now!”

So there I was, at the local Pound, searching for – a dog? Yes, my doctor told me the cat was irritating my allergies so I should get a dog. A poodle, he said, would be best because poodles don’t have fur, they have hair.

I’d been searching for more than an hour. There were so many wonderful dogs there, and they all looked like they needed my love. But there was something missing. No one particular dog seemed to know my name.

Until the very helpful volunteer, Lisa, who had been showing me around the kennels said, “I have a little poodle in the back. She hasn’t even been put out front yet. And she’s rather dirty at the moment, but….” She looked at me thoughtfully and said, “Yes, you’ll be perfect for her.” And with that she turned away and walked in the back room.

A dirty poodle? I am a perfect match for a dirty poodle? That didn’t sound really promising. But then Lisa came back into the room. And in her arms she held a shivering, quivering little rat of an obviously terrified dog.

“We haven’t even had time to give her a name yet,” the lady said apologetically, while staring at me almost as hopefully as the little dog seemed to be doing.

YES! Oh YES! This was my dog. She needed cheering up more than I did, I thought. And I was about as sad as I’d ever been.

So I brought her home and scrubbed and scrubbed until she practically shone bright white. Then I took her to the vet to check out all the information I’d received when I got her papers.

That, it turned out, was a little sketchy.

Age? About seven, I’d been told. But my vet thought she was closer to 11. General health? Could be better. Needed a bath and some flea powder and maybe several visits to the vet and the dentist. Probably nothing too serious.

Okay, that last guess was WAY off the mark. Poor baby needed 17 teeth removed and had several growths that needed attention. According to the vet at the Pound, the dog had been left in the road, apparently right after giving birth. She was still lactating!

So I made an appointment with the vet for a total check up and then called my daughter so we could consult on a name.

By this time – about three days – we had some idea of the dog’s personality but we still hadn’t decided what to call her. So we huddled. The three of us, two of us tossing suggestions then watching the unnamed pup react.

Rosie? No. Prissy? Ugh! Lucy? No. The dog was unimpressed.

“What about Sophie?” I asked.

All of a sudden, the dog, who up to this time had been totally uninvolved, began to howl!

Daughter Celia got down on the floor and howled back at her. The dog howled longer and louder, standing on one foot and then the other.

THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!

 

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I had THE name! Sophie! After that old time singer, Sophie Tucker.The dog obviously agreed.

And we were all happy.

Sophie wasn’t a very social dog. She was timid and shy around strangers. She didn’t make friends easily in either world…her animal world or my people place. But she loved my daughter and she loved me. And for us, that was proof enough of her character.

And she was loyal from the get go. A friend who had come to sit with Sophie when I had to be out the entire day, said that the dear little dog sat in front of my chair and just stared at it for most of the time I was gone. And that was after only about a week after claiming her as my own.

Call me easy, but it would be hard to convince me that Sophie wasn’t exceptional.

Unfortunately, Sophie wasn’t with me for very long. Her many “not too serious” problems turned out to be worse than was originally thought, and suddenly one evening she began to howl all by herself. Not the companionable sound we loved, but a mournful cry in the night.

I tried all the things I’d done to soothe her when she first came to me, but nothing worked and so I raced her to the hospital. I never took her home again.

But I sat with her and I loved her and she never took her eyes from me until they closed forever.

But for four years, Sophie and I sat and howled and laughed…until we cried.

 

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