it happens when we let our guard down. When we are briefly happy. We feel the moment of happiness and naturally look to you to share it with you, enjoy it more with you. “Come on Soph’, share this happy thing that just occurred, this warm thought, this good feeling. Let’s enjoy life together for a moment.”… And then the happiness vanishes as we realize you are not there. Not anymore.
It happened tonight. I was watching tv and had a thought. Popcorn sounds good, yeah I’m gonna make popcorn. It’s not too late, that sounds good. I get up, unusually energized. “Come on baby, let’s make some popcorn!”, I would have said if I didn’t catch myself mid-thought and immediately shut down.
Then the battle to hold back the feelings. Lest we show emotion for such an old wound. Surely it has healed by now.
So, today it has snowed here where we live in Texas, and it is a rare enough occurrence that, though it is usually a pretty big deal, without you to enjoy it with us, it is much less so.
You enjoyed snow so much, it made it fun for everyone. The cold and snow did not bother you. Though I had to bundle up considerably (I can easily picture your frustrated, impatient, and often barking by then, frisbee holding face waiting on me), you refused to even wear the jackets or sweaters I tried to put on you -sometimes I forced something on you anyway so neighbors would feel better about you being out on walks in that weather. (video below)
You jumped through the snow and ran as you could, until I held you back to keep you from falling on the ice. Your energy for things like this was always incredible. It was like you were experiencing it for the first time, every time. It made us appreciate it more seeing your joy for it. You’d run and play in the snow until you remembered the real reason for being out there and stopped to take care of business. The yellow snow joke would always arise as you relieved yourself and even the steamers often inspired a phone pic which was sent to cousin Steve to commemorate the event.
Eventually, your long-haired feet would accumulate so much snow between your toes, you had trouble walking and I would have to break it apart and remove what I could on the walk. Which meant removing my gloves and freezing my hands while you chewed at my arms for touching your feet.
When we finally arrived home, I would have to soak your feet in warm water to melt those snow-packed feet, clean the rest of the snow off you and wrestle/towel you dry. Then crazy Sophie would arrive, jumping, biting, attacking and playing throughout the house with your cold-inspired energy.
It’s just not the same without you baby, and I suppose it never will be.
Miss you, Soph
Working in my office, I just heard a collar tag jingle (maybe it was Charlie cat), and I instinctively looked up for you… :/ nope, not there
still not there
Good to hear your collar as you shake in this video – I really miss our walks, especially when you got wet and i had to dry you off. You knew the drill, face me, walk through my legs as I hit your front legs, belly, and rear legs. Good girl baby.
I don’t remember this one, but it looks like it’s from the golf course – tee box trashcan in the background. You must have been running around a bit and look a little out of breath. Canon T2i, no flash, so it was a “photo shoot”.
You did love the freedom of running around the course after hours. Nice soft grass on your feet. Unfortunately, your bad front ankles had you tripping on your face if you ran too hard. The slight hills seemed a problem for you. It broke my heart to see you want to run so bad and not be physically able to. A short trot or jog was all we could allow, knowing the pain anything more would cause you. Poor baby girl.
Always being around me, you were my conversation target at any time.
it wasn’t deep, not complex, just chatter, but it mattered
and i miss it every day
hows my girl?
how you doin?
what’s a matter?
who’s that pretty girl?
what’s a matter baby girl?
what are you doing?
that’s my gurl
where’s my baby?
are you ok?
there she is!
alright let’s go
wanna go outside?
here we go
where’s your frisbee?
get your frisbee
well go get it
there you go
let’s go inside
come on, get a drink
ready for bed?
want some green beans?
wanna milk bone?
where’s your bear?
get the kitty
oh settle down
you just behave
where that belly?
lemme get that tickle belly
that’s my girl
there you go
you ready for bed?
that’s my girl
I meant for this to be a more substantial post, but i just keep talking to you in my head, this chatter is non stop and these words were said so often, I cant accept not saying them anymore
I can’t stop thinking about you
I regret letting you go more and more every day
I’m so sorry baby
I’m so sorry
So, where the hell was this lymphoma in dogs article 5 months ago?!
Specifically, the ability to get treatment from our local vet once a course of action was determined, would have greatly influenced my decision to pursue it. We avoided chemo for a few reasons, but primarily because we didn’t want to put her through the travel to and from the north Dallas cancer center and leave her with them every week.
Sophie already had stage 5b lymphoma when they finally diagnosed her, affecting her lungs with the most impact. Though she had weak legs, she stood the whole trip traveling anywhere, which then caused days of pain following it. We had to limit her activity, in spite of herself, for a few years.
Trying to overcome the denial and accept what people were telling us, we accepted that yes, we could spend 6-10 thousand dollars and extend her life a bit (at unknown quality), but chemo would never cure it.
I am not sure how we could have gotten around the conflict between prednisone and chemo, since the prednisone was the only thing that seemed to allow her to breath comfortably. But seeing this new info, I struggle with not pursuing chemo.
I don’t think I realized just how painful her loss would be and though I expected great difficulty, this ongoing pain almost three months later, makes me continue to question everything.
It is very difficult to agonize over the chosen path and ending her life, without her discomfort right in front of me. Relying on painful memories alone, I try to remember her perceived pleading eyes to make it stop.
In the end, I likely have to accept that I wouldn’t feel any better about it than I do now.
When I do get the courage to open this site, my heart swells with anxiety, longing, missing…
So Facebook continues to remind me about you, Sophie -not that I need reminding.
Apparently one of my favorite photos of you was taken one year ago on a nice late afternoon chilling in the living room. I see it is the same photo used for the blog icon above. The Facebook post is simply titled “Miss Sophie”, and I certainly still do, miss Sophie.
I dreamt about Jackie last night. She was the co-worker who passed away this past year. She had the little dog, Angel. Sweetest lady you’d ever want to meet. In my dream, as I realized she was gone, I asked her to take care of you. I guess I should ask you to help take care of them as well.
This haunting long exposure shot was taken one year ago and seems to predict my current mood, quite accurately. A deep sadness, loneliness, and haunted by the memories of my girl. She was always with me, regardless of the project, but most always, any photography setting. She was often the subject of the photograph, but inevitably, she would find a way into the shot even when she was not. In this case, it was just after midnight, with a full moon lighting the area, I was surprised to see how a long exposure produced an image looking much like daytime, shadows and all. Initially, a little annoyed, Sophie got in the shot yet didn’t stay still, I now cherish it as a reminder of how she was always close by -and perhaps her spirit is still.
It’s Saturday morning… and Saturday mornings suck now.
They used to be a special time for us. You would let me sleep in a little bit at least (until your cancer had us up at specific times for medicines), so it was less rushed than a workday. But when it was time, you would do your stretches, shake yourself awake, and head for the front door. I’d grab your collar – often having to go back to the bedroom and get it from where it was removed for your bedtime brushings and sleep, and snap it in place with a loud, reassuring click.
Grabbing your extendable leash, I snap that to the collar loop with another reassuring click. That seemed to be your cue to get feisty! Now it was time to bite things. The leash, my leg, my pants, my shirt, my hand, looking for a Frisbee. I grab your Frisbee and hold it out so you can snatch it with your teeth. Occasionally you would drop it and stuff your head in the bench storage to grab another Frisbee – there were several, all pink. Drop, pick another, drop, pick another, but you usually ended up with the same one in the end. OK, you’re ready!
I snatch a roll of poo bags and open the front door -charge! Your spirit was wonderful! Every walk seemed like your first and your last, you were always that excited. We’d head out like you owned the neighborhood. Head high. Quick steps. Frisbee firmly out front. A quick pee in the front yard and lookout sidewalk, here we come.
These chilly Fall mornings were the best for walking. You had an extra jump in your step, an excitement in the eyes, alert, looking for something, anything -hunting. Occasionally we would see one of the many rabbits around. They would always freeze, hoping you didn’t see. Sometimes you didn’t, and I’d nod to them as we passed. But usually it was “point” time and you would freeze, with the trademark golden retriever in you displaying. Straight back, body crouched down, tail straight out back, one foot forward, and slowly inching towards your prey. I in turn grip the handle of the retractable leash firmly, thumb hovering over the lock button, anticipating the lunge. “Sophie, be nice” I’d say. “Just leave him alone baby. Come on, let’s just go.” But the next actions largely depended on the rabbit. Sometimes they really would sit frozen, and if they were far enough from the sidewalk, I could often coax you to walk on by, with their eyes tracking us the whole way.
But more often than not, they would eventually dart away and you would lunge after them. My grip on the leash handle would be strained as I managed the feed of the line like hauling in a large fish on a reel. If I held too tight, you would strain and choke close to me. If I let you go too fast, I risked too sudden a stop at the end of its length injuring you or losing grip entirely. this had to be a gradual managed feed, slowly restricting more as you got further in the grass. This was a known safe and best-case scenario tactic, based on years of failed attempts. You remember how those ended.
Some rabbits were particularly annoying when their attempts to flee led them directly down the sidewalk where we headed. The hunt just kept repeating over and over, “ugh – come on man,” I’d plead. But eventually, we’d be on our way, and back to sniffing feverishly and looking for the next bit of excitement. (note to self – detail the squirrel version of our encounters!)
You liked a pretty standard routine. We’d head out the door the same direction each morning (south east) and most days, but especially on Saturdays, it was up to you which way we went from there. No rush, no agenda. The neighborhood was somewhat limiting, but you had options after the first block and as we’d get to the first intersection, you would let me know by just stopping and looking at me – Frisbee still firmly in your mouth, that we needed to change direction. “Which way we goin’?” I’d ask, “It’s up to you, this is your day”. You’d look the direction and start there with excitement as if it was a whole new discovery.
The walk continued on, varying from the quick pace that you normally went, pulling me just enough at the extended limit of the leash, or we’d be almost stopped as you investigated at length, new smells discovered deep in the grass. I was wary of those sniffs especially though, and would only allow a few seconds of what was apparently something very interesting. The more you dug your feet in anticipating this, the more determined I was to pull you away from whatever “it” was.
You had your favorite yards to take care of your business in. And without being too obvious, I would try to spare repeat yard bombings, by varying our pace or switching sides of the street – I think you noticed though, as I would get that look from time to time out of you. Towards the end of your life, these walks were shorter, and the yards fewer, and I came to call it poop-bingo, as we picked a winner each morning. Thinking back now, I feel bad that I don’t know where your last poo went, which yard. I knew it was your last day, and I was burning as much into memory as I could. I have a suspicion, but am not sure.
Other things changed about your walks towards the end as well. You started out with the Frisbee, but it was quickly dropped for me to carry. You used to hold it in your mouth even as you peed, dropping only to poo. But now breathing was a priority, and I carried the Frisbee for you most of the time. We still had to bring it, mind you. This retriever did not leave without something in your mouth, and a Frisbee was still better than letting you attack the leash the whole way.
All roads eventually led home though, and you knew where that was. As we came in the door, you dropped the Frisbee, waited patiently to be de-leashed, I got my big Sophie-hugs and you went to rest on the tile, “Good girl, good walk”. It was a great start to the weekend, and we would spend most of them together.
I miss my Saturdays so much. I miss my Sophie so much.