I am so sick of things I love leaving me. It’s just not fair. In 2008 I lost my grandma (Mom’s mom), in 2010 I lost my grandpa (Dad’s dad), in 2011 I lost my mom, and a week ago today I lost my Dog-Dog, my Sweet Angel… my Sophie. She was 13 1/2 years old, to the day, so she lived a long life, but she still left me far too soon
She joined our family when I was 9 years old, back in 1999. She was born November 10, 1998, and the only reason I ever remembered this (because let’s face it, I’m awful at birthday’s, and am only recently starting to remember the actual date’s of people’s birthdays >_>) is because her birthday was 5 days before mine (November 15).
I remember the process of us getting Sophie. My Dad didn’t really want a dog, but my mom was adamant. So she did lots of research online about what type of dog would be best, and eventually narrowed it down to a Shih Tzu. She looked around the San Diego area (in California) and found a family who’s Shih Tzu’s had had 2 puppies. We drove down to El Cajon to “look” at the puppies, but after making a stop at a PetSmart to pick up some dog bowls, puppy pads, a toy, and a crate liner, my Dad was fairly certain we were coming home with a puppy.
After taking a look at the puppies, my mom decided on Sophie because she was alert and active and very friendly (as opposed to her brother which was basically a lap-dog). On our way back home with Sophie, we were trying to figure out a name for her. My mom wanted to call her “Polly” but realized that would be a mistake because “Polly” would sound too much like “Potty” and we didn’t want our new puppy to be confused when we potty-trained her. So we thought and thought, and finally I came up with Sophia. My mom and I had been playing a video game (Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis) and Indy’s love interest in the game was named Sophia. As soon as I said it, we all knew that was going to be her name.
Later my mom registered her because she was a full-blooded Shih Tzu, so her registered name was Princessa Sophia de la Vista, but we usually just called her Sophie.
Sophie was seriously my best friend. If I had a friend sleep over, Sophie was always in my room with us. Or if I busy playing video games, she was under my desk sleeping. When I would practice piano or harp, you knew how many trips into the room where I was practicing Sophie had made because on each new trip, she would bring in a new dog toy with her (but of course she never put them back!). Even when I got older and my boyfriend and I had our own room in my parent’s house, she would sleep outside our closed door (our 2 kitties didn’t get along with my handsome orange kitty, Picasso lol).
Sophie was ALWAYS there for me, and last week it was time for me to be there for her. She had been sick for a while, and my Dad and I knew it was just a matter of time, but still it felt like it hit so suddenly. Monday of last week I was preparing music for my very first youth symphony rehearsal and she was out with me near the harp (like usual) but she wasn’t sitting or laying down. She was just standing there, looking at me. I knew something was wrong because she was old (13 years old), so she was always tired and laying down to nap.
The next day I noticed she hadn’t eaten much of her dog food, and she still wasn’t laying down, except when she slept. That Wednesday, she hadn’t touched her dog food at all, and she struggled to get down the step to the back patio to go potty. That night she couldn’t even get up the step to come inside. I had my dad watch her as she tried, so he could see what I was talking about when I told him she couldn’t anymore. So when I looked at her and said “Come on girl, you can do it!” She looked at me like “Okay mom! I got this!” and then tried, but her front paws slipped out from underneath her, and then she couldn’t get her back paws up the step. I had to pick her up and set her in her dog bed.
That night I was up and down with her all night. She was having accidents in my bedroom, and refusing to lay down still. It was so bad that I knew she WANTED to because her back half was laying but she was holding her front half up. The growth (we think it was cancer) in her chest must have been really bothering her. I had also noticed that her torso on the left side was much larger than on the left side.
At about 2:30am I took her potty again and set her out in the grass. She shakily walked out under the tree in our backyard and just stood there, staring at something. I got her attention and she looked at me, walked farther away from me trying to go potty, and then just stood there staring away from me. I went in and woke my dad up, concerned. He told me to go get her, but before I did I looked out his window into the backyard and couldn’t see her, so I went back outside hoping she had walked to the door and was ready to come inside. But unfortunately that wasn’t the case. She had fallen over in the grass and was just laying there. I walked out to her hoping to coax her up on her own and get her to walk to patio so I could pick her up, but she had no interest in getting up. So I got my shoes, came back out, picked her up and took her inside to her dog bed and set her in it. I then went and grabbed her dog treat and gave it to her, but she wouldn’t eat it. It was then that I knew it was time, because Sophie had a serious dog treat addiction. Like, she needed DTA (Dog Treats Anonymous).
I went in to get my dad sobbing because if she wasn’t eating her dog treats anymore, then that wasn’t good. It was around this time that I noticed the look in her eyes had changed. She was no longer looking at me like “I love you! You’re the best owner ever and I want to be with you always!” to “I’m miserable, I’m suffering, help me…” So I asked my dad to work from home the next day because I was scared. When I went out to the family room to check on her, she was still in her dog bed, laying/sitting awkwardly. So I picked up her dog bed with her in it, carried it to my room, and went to bed. I refused to let her be by herself that night. And as I slept for 5 hours, she sat right next to my bed. I’m pretty sure she didn’t sleep/lay down the whole 5 hours I was in my room.
That Thursday morning (a week ago today) my dad and I took her potty in the morning and she squatted to pee like she usually does, but it seemed like she was taking forever to go, and it was then that I noticed she didn’t have the strength to stand back up again. So my Dad picked her up, sat her inside in her dog bed, and called the vet to make an appointment to put her to sleep.
Taking her to the vet was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time, but leaving without her was even harder. As much as my Dad had said he hadn’t wanted a dog in the beginning, Sophie had wormed her way into his heart. And as I stood there kissing Sophie’s head as they gave her the shot that would end her pain, he cried. We both cried like we hadn’t cried since Mom had died. It was like Sophie had given us permission to let everything go and completely lose it.
I sobbed and sobbed afterwards, feeling so completely alone. When my mom passed away, she had already kind of secluded herself because she couldn’t really leave her bedroom because she didn’t have the strength. But Dog-Dog, she was always there. Everywhere I went there she was. And now suddenly she was gone. My dad works long days, and goes out a lot, so when I came home from school or hanging out with my friends, she was always home, waiting for me. But now she’s not. The house is so empty… There’s no responsibility to be home within a certain number of house to take her potty, no one sleeping in front of the door to the garage blocking your entry into the house, no wagging tail and happy face waiting to greet you upon arrival home.
Sophie’s death has hit me so hard, and I think it’s because of a couple things. First, she was my very first dog, and secondly, her death brought up feelings of sadness I had repressed after my mom died. After mom died I just kinda went numb. I absolutely no memory of the few months following mom’s death… But with Sophie dying, all the pain, all the hurt I had tucked away inside of me trying to be strong for dad and for my big sisters came rushing out like someone had unplugged the dam inside of me.
It’s just not fair, that both she and my mom had to leave me. And of course, it was right before Mother’s Day… But one thing my family and I agreed on is that she was my gift to my mom for Mother’s Day. She finally got her puppy back. And now Sophie can have all the dog treats she could ever want.
Sophie, I love you so much, I just want you to know that. You were my first dog, and you were always there for me when I needed you, especially after our mom passed away. You will always be my Sweet Angel, and my Dog-Dog. I hope you know that.
Before I go to wipe away my tears so I don’t look like a mess with eyeliner/mascara running down my face, I’m going to leave you with a poem my dad found inside the room at the Vet where we ended Sophie’s suffering so she could go say hi to mom and get her Angel’s wings. It brought me to tears then, and it did again today…
<3 and harp strings,
P.S. Sophie, be Picasso’s Guardian Angel, you know how much he needs it because he’s a naughty kitty who has also lost his best friend, his “twin” as mom used to call you two (they were always inseparable, wherever one was, the other wasn’t far behind).
A Dog’s Prayer
Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to the bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet. Though you had no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land. for you are my God and I am your devoted worshiper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life should your life be in danger.
And beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful benefit of eternal rest………and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I dew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.