An Original: Sophie
Sophie. Overlooks Soft Autumn Light. A stand-out puppy in a litter of 12. A joyful, strong willed girl who’s antics captured the heart of everyone she met. An amazing dog who lived a glorious 14 1.2 years. Six months ago today, May 1st, 2019, we said good-bye.
Sophie was one of six girls in Scout’s only litter. She made sure she was pick of the litter with her puppy antics, big mouth and ‘you better watch me’ attitude. You couldn’t ignore this puppy. She was so smart, easy to train and a very well structured dog. Like her mother, she had zero interest in the show ring. I thought she purposely refused to keep up with me so I wouldn’t show her. (I did the same thing with my father when he wanted me to cut the lawn. I hit every rock I could find. My lawn mowing career was as short as Sophie’s ring time). On top of that, she never liked the grooming table and insisted on sitting rather than standing. How do you groom a dog who sits? How do you show a dog who doesn’t like to be groomed? Grooming Sophie was a two-man job. I would wield the scissors and Chad would hold her up. One obstinate girl!
Despite her penchant for moving at a snail’s pace in the ring, Sophie was not lazy. She was always on the move. She was ball obsessed and ran like the wind. If another dog grabbed her ball, she would stalk them until they gave it up. If the offending dog didn’t get Sophie’s message, she would start barking - at me - to retrieve the ball. It was no use trying to bribe her with another ball. She wanted THAT ball and she was going to get THAT ball. She truly was one of the funniest dogs I’ve ever known. She could make you laugh with her antics. How I miss those moments.
Sophie was a wonderful mother. She produced three litters of incredible puppies. She was very attached to her son from her first litter, our Sutton. They were inseparable throughout her life. It was a joy to watch them play together, stalk each other (he was the biggest ball thief) and revel in their companionship. They often slept together on the dog bed. Sophie thought nothing of walking over to Sutton’s bed and forcing him to share his space. During Sophie’s last few days, when her weakness had become so difficult, Sutton stayed away. I watched him withdraw and keep a distance from his mother. He knew what was happening to his best friend. I know at some point he said good-bye.
For most of her life Sophie would spend Summer weekends at the beach in East Hampton. She loved the trips in the car and the stops in Central Park before heading out the next morning. The blaring sounds and swirling motion of the city didn’t phase her. Everything was an adventure. As much as she loved the beach, she wasn’t much of a swimmer. The water was fine as long as her feet were on solid ground. As ball obsessed as she was, a ball in the water was something to be anticipated, not retrieved!
“Sophie…Sophie, come…Sophie?…Sophie Come! Nothing. She’s sound asleep on her bed. The kitchen lights go out and the day is done. Then she’s up and moving. She doesn’t look at me, just struts through the kitchen into the hall over to the bottom of the stairs. She has completely ignored me and will continue to do so as she climbs the stairs to the bedroom. She feigned deep sleep very well.
Often, Sophie would look at the stairs is if they were Mt. Kilimanjaro. As she got older she would back away and retreat to the living room, only to come back and face the stairs again. Was the retreat a way to contemplate a new stair strategy? This could go on a half-dozen times, most often on nights when it was late and everyone was tired. Chad couldn’t change her mind either. If she was really taking her time, I would walk to the kitchen and open the doggie gate. The choice was clear: the stairs or the kitchen? A treat at the top of the stairs or a kiss goodnight in the kitchen? She had absolutely no problem climbing the stairs for most of her life, but she made the decision when she would climb those stairs on her terms.
After many years of this nightly ritual, I finally captured it all on a video I posted to Instagram. Overnight, Sophie was a star. Going up the stairs, and the corresponding video coming down the stairs the next morning, truly captured what this dog was all about. She was a character. Headstrong, stubborn and full of attitude. Royalty. She was the Queen and she knew it.
Sophie was 14 1/2 when things began to change. She had been an incredibly healthy dog her entire life. Suddenly, overnight, the stairs were no longer easy, her energy diminished. It was a labor of love to carry her up the stairs. Twelve days after she could no longer climb the stairs, I let her go. I traded 14 1.2 years of loving an almost perfect Golden Retriever for one heartbreakingly sad day. But the memories, the laughs? Sophie will always make me smile.