Today, the best dog I’ve ever met died. Her name was Sophie, and she was a 12-year-old black lab. In addition to being the most wonderful dog, she was also the best-loved dog I’ve ever met. She will be very sorely missed.
We got Sophie when I was in middle school. She was a pound puppy, about six months old, and she was so excited to have found us. What I remember most about brining her home from the Humane Society was how high she could bounce, and how amazing it was that she could bounce and pee at the same time. She remained an excited pee-er for most of her life.
We suspect her first owner may not have been kind to her, because she flinched easily when she was young and didn’t warm quickly to men. Once she got to know you, though, she was your buddy until the end. She never did get over her fear of loud noises, and during thunder storms could often be found in the basement of the house cowering under (or at least behind) a bed.
Even at 80 pounds, she never understood she wasn’t a lapdog. She had a really neat habit of sitting on “her” couch so that her butt was on the cushions, her front feet on the floor, and her back feet stuck straight out between them. If she couldn’t find a way to sit on you, she would settle for leaning on you, and at 80 pounds, it was a serious lean.
Her tail was also a pretty serious item. It could swipe items off the coffee table or leave a bruise on your leg, but most often, it served as an announcer to let the world know she was coming. THUMP THUMP THUMP! Sophie is in da house!
She loved every other animal she met. We had a silly little rat dog named Molly when Sophie was young. Molly had a lot of quirks, and one of them was that she loved to eat carrots. Sophie didn’t like carrots at all, but she couldn’t stand for Molly to get a treat that she didn’t get. After Molly died, Sophie gave up carrots in favor of ice cream. Who can blame her? She missed Molly after she died, but fortunately we had a couple wily cats to keep her company by then.
Murray, my white cat – the best cat ever in the universe – was Sophie’s buddy for a long time. Sophie was always happy to see Murray (who frequently vacationed at our neighbors’ house) and would greet him with much tail-thumping and kissing. Murray would roll over and tolerate it just so long, until he’d have to bat Sophie away and escape to some high refuge.
But Sophie’s best friend was always my mother. They followed each other everywhere – from state to state to house to house. Mom cooked her gourmet meals (because really, who would want to eat that icky dog food?) There were as many dog beds in the house as there were people beds. Sophie got a tempurpedic mattress before Mom did, and she appreciated it. They went for walks every day, playing “stick” in the park (wherein Mom would toss a stick, Sophie would fetch it then chew it to pieces before giving it back). When Sophie’s joints got too sore for walking, they went swimming.
Sophie was a chaser of bunnies and lover of a stuffed duck. Her chin and elbows went grey at the age of two. She refused to walk with anyone other than my mother if my mother was anywhere to be found within a twenty mile radius. The only things she didn’t like were her pills and having her toenails clipped.
She was old, and aching, and tired when she died. Mom and I were there to tell her that we loved her, and even though it broke my heart to see her go, I know that she couldn’t possibly have had a better life.