Sophie’s Nevers

  • Sophie never went outside at home without me or someone with her.
    -She was an indoor dog anyway, but this began when she was a puppy, likely because she would get into things and chew them up or eat them if we didn’t watch her closely. We also misunderstood feeding instructions for a puppy, and she was not getting fed enough. Hopefully, this didn’t contribute to her bad front legs or eventual cancer, but it did cause her to eat her “brother” Benny the Lhasa Apso’s poo out of starvation whenever she could…
    She was fast too Рeven after we had a vet finally tell us she should be eating as much as she can as a growing puppy- she would watch Benny out of the corner of her eye, and as soon as it dropped, she would bolt across the yard after it, and we often had to pull it out of her mouth. Fresh treats, I suppose, ingrained in her since youth, it was something we always had to watch out for. So consequently, it just became habit to keep an eye on her anytime she went outside. As the years went on, I came to think I was out there for her, protecting her, from whatever came, and I am sure she thought the same of her role for me. Whether the back yard, or front yard, we would sit there together and watch our surroundings, enjoying the view and the company, while each scanning for threats or just points of interest.
  • Sophie never didn’t eat her whole meal (except for the day she 1st went blind)
    -Any meal was a special event for Sophie. It was quite gratifying to see how much she appreciated being fed. She ate breakfast and dinner every day, and various dog treats throughout the day. As soon as you started making her meal, she would jump and bark, excited like it was her first and last meal. If you took too long, turned your back, she would be half up on the counter, going after it with her tall body. Barely waiting for the bowl to be set down, she would dive in and empty it ferociously, licking it clean after. She definitely love routine, and she knew it well. There was a sequence to her meals and if you missed or forgot a step, she would let you know. A Milk Bone after was mandatory, and sometimes two. Towards the end, her meals increased in content and complexity, but she still looked forward to them with vigor. I am sure the prednisone helped, but she continued to eat very well right up to her last meal. It suddenly saddens me that I don’t remember her last meal, but I am pretty sure it would have been a big pile of canned food – her favorite.
  • Sophie never would swim, only waded– except for the time she fell in lake Whitney! And then when she fell in the pool blind after not finishing meal :/ (both very brief trips!)
    Sophie loved the lake, and we lived near Stewart’s peninsula park so any time we could go there was a special day. Memorialized in this feature film, we have many good days at the lake, but she never would actually swim. She would run downhill directly at the lake shoreline -especially after ducks in the water- but would stop upon crashing into it when it got to the point she would have to swim. She loved to wade, especially after a tennis ball or stick, but started to cry if things got deeper than she could touch. We lost a few sticks and balls to the current unfortunately.
  • Sophie never went on a walk without her Frisbee.
    Any time we headed out for a walk, there was another sequence of events that had to happen. I usually had to put shoes on, grab my keys, phone, poo bags, and leash, and somewhere in the middle of that, allow Sophie to grab the Frisbee for our trip. We kept it in a bench by the door, or often it was somewhere in the house, where she left it after coming in the last time we walked. Now that was a stressful time, anytime she couldn’t find her Frisbee right away! She would run around the house, excited, barking, searching, and eventually would find it, preferably without help, or she would attack you (playfully) for being involved. Much like her meals, it seemed each walk was her first and her last. She would get so excited, it was a bit crazy and kind of an explosion out the front door into the world. Ooh! Another issue is when we were in transition, and had two Frisbees in the bench – which to take, which to take?! She would chew the heck out of them, so I would get a new one, but she was resistant to switching. Eventually, she would stress at which to take. If I grabbed one and handed it to her, she would snag it but then drop it and grab the other. And this continued back and forth for bit until she realized the goal was to go outside and would finally choose. Many people would comment on her Frisbee constantly in her mouth, especially those who saw us regularly, but even people driving by would slow and roll down a window to comment. There was often an annoying ritual as we walked as she would test me. She had to be the one to leave the house with the Frisbee, but if something grabbed her interest, a smell, or another animal that took her attention, she would drop the Frisbee. But typically, as soon as I picked it up, she would grab it back from me. an then maybe drop it again after a few feet, and as I picked it up, she would again grab it from me. This could get old… Another observation I made, was that she would keep the Frisbee in her mouth as she peed (somewhat comical looking, girl dog squatting with big pink Frisbee in mouth), but would drop it just before pooing. Sometimes JUST before pooing, so that I had to sort of dive in there and snatch it before poo dropped right onto it! I wasn’t always successful.
    Here is a very complete picture of our walk, including Frisbee management:

Explosions of barking followed any doorbell

Explosions of barking followed any doorbell, knocking, or vehicle sound out front.

Best home defense system EVER – and an annoyance to be explained every time a guest arrived.

Her bark was amazingly deep and menacing at times. As the guy working under his car found when she was surprised by his presence on a walk on night, “Shit! You scared me!”

Oh my did she get spooked at times. Especially at night – see “doesn’t like new areas

-anal gland-exploding spooked! One of our first extended walks, took us to another new area when Sophie was pretty young, and I saw some activity up ahead, pretty innocuous it seemed, people going from their house to car and back. It was night, so she was on edge a bit anyway, but when we got just past the car they were using, someone shut the door and it scared the crap out of her -literally. She bolted, ripping the extending leash from my hand, and took off down the sidewalk. I chased after her, calling, trying to reassure her all was well and when I finally did catch up to her, the smell was horrific – my first encounter with anal gland release – wooh that stinks! Baby, it’s OK, goodness sakes. For the rest of her life, I had to be extra aware of our surroundings. She never got over that skittishness. Always on edge. As we approached something potentially reaction invoking, i would slowly choke up on her extending leash, thumb pressing hard on the retracting brake, and even often had to lean back bracing for an inevitable lunge. (similar to my preparation when we encountered a rabbit or squirrel!)