It has taken me all day to write this post, and it will be short. At least until I have a little time to let things settle.
Our family had to say goodbye to Sophie this week, and it has broken our hearts. I first noticed something amiss in August, very subtle, but not quite right. After an extensive workup, cancer was the likely culprit. I say ‘likely’ because other findings (low platelets and bleeding) made some diagnostic tests not possible at the time. I will be writing this all up from a more medical perspective on my about.com site soon, but I still need some time.
- Update November 20, 2013: Medical Epilogue on About.com
Sophie was one of many pets in this household, but in her sweet quiet way, she ruled the roost.
We adopted her from the shelter in 2002. She raised our two kids and countless other pets; showing them how to behave and at the same time, protecting them and teaching them the ways of the world. Some pets – like the Greyhounds Purl and Argos – needed more help than others.
Sophie had to teach the Greyhounds LOTS of things, like how to be “normal” dogs in a home environment, how fun walks are (Sophie’s all-time favorite activity), greeting people on walks, and playful things, like digging in the sand.
Sophie was also our alert dog. For everything and everybody. The Greyhounds got to where they just watched her, then looked off into the distance to see what she was looking at. Here Sophie spies an Oystercatcher on the beach.
Sophie had to be the leader. All the time, everywhere we went. The first out the door, the first in the car, the leader on every walk and hike. This was mostly good, except when she ignored me… doing whatever she pleased, on her own timeframe. But I am probably just a poor dog trainer.
Earlier this year, I posted this photo (reposted below). I didn’t realize until after I took it that a rainbow was right over Sophie’s head! She was a pot o’ gold, for sure.
The one thing I did NOT want – any suffering or lingering in a compromised state. We all want that of course, and I’ll be honest… it is hard to “know” that time, isn’t it? The lines are very blurry. And then those lines get blurrier, as the disease progresses. The new benchmarks are different than what we see in their previously healthy state.
But I knew. That light had left her eyes. She had other signs too, like not wanting to eat, and breathing that had become labored. Such a change from a few months ago, hiking for miles and miles in July. No one believed me when I said she was almost 12. Young and energetic, she lived a healthy life. And a very happy one.
It has been stormy and rainy here, fall ushered in by cold winds. But… on my sad drive home after saying goodbye, everything changed. The skies were on fire in that time photographers call “the golden hour.” I had to pull over several times, it was so beautiful.
Thirty minutes later, it was all over. Back to gray. Coincidence? You can decide, but I like to think it was a final goodbye from a really great dog.
Farewell, Sweet Sophie.