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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Good Bye Sophie


Sunday was the day that was marked as the 15th Anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S.  Much of the focus was on New York, but let us not forget the families of those who also died in a field in Pennsylvania or at the Pentagon in Washington.  Saturday night, in worship, one of our talking points was how life can change in a moment, and we can realize that it is much more fragile and less secure than we sometimes think it to be.  

Though not on the scale of the 9/11 attacks, we suffered our own tragedy Saturday evening, and I thought I’d like to share from the personal side.  

Not to trivialize the 9/11 attacks, or to say that there is any comparison in terms of scale, our tragedy occurred when my wife’s beloved dog ran out in front of a moving automobile and was struck dead by it.  If, like me, you have lost a pet you loved, you know what it can feel like, especially when it occurs in such a sudden and tragic way.  

This little dog, a “Shorkie” (half Yorkie, half Shitzu) put up with a lot of verbal abuse from me, in which I generally referred to her as not being a real dog at all, because she was so small, and so fuzzy, that I knew her to actually be “a stickless mop”.  If you have read my divorce books, you will know her as the dog described in a devotional who could never quite make up her mind where the perfect place would be to “do her business” when outside.  She was very persnickety about that.  Just the other day as I walked her in the early morning, I was amazed once again at how much difference a foot or so could make in locating the perfect place to make a “doggie deposit”.

Despite the teasing she (and my wife) got from me, Sophie was one of the happiest dogs you would ever meet, and specialized in bringing joy to others.  My mother never particularly liked dogs, and certainly never allowed them into the house if she could help it.  UNTIL Sophie (and Alzheimers) came into mom’s life.  Mom had a number of physical ailments, some of which were very painful and discouraging.  But when we came to visit and Sophie was with us, Mom’s entire countenance would change in an instant as Sophie ran to her chair and bounded into her lap…whether or not she was invited to do so!  I was always amazed that Mom never did get mad at Sophie for that, but instead laughed, played, pet and even kissed the little dog.  I don’t remember exactly how much my wife paid for Sophie as a puppy, but whatever it was, just the joy she brought to my aging mother was worth the cost and beyond.

After Mom passed away, Sophie continued the job of bringing joy to others.  I often took her with me when going over to help Dad with things, and Sophie would stand with her front paws on the dashboard, looking out the window and wagging her tail, especially when we turned on the street that headed to Dad’s place.  She knew the way.  I think Dad’s love for Sophie came from the fact that he knew how much happiness the dog gave to Mom.  But my 90+ year old dad always greeted her with a smile, and was glad to have her come visit.  Although, he also regularly shook his head at her, amazed at the dumb things she did.  

I anticipate that I may yet find a doggie bone buried somewhere in my car, as she rarely ate the treats given her at the bank, choosing to hide them in the car instead.  I never did get that, because she rarely found them again, and when I did, they became treats for the other dog who knew treats were to be eaten, not stored.  

Most of all, that little dog was my wife’s pride and joy, and kept her company whenever I was away on a trip.  On the other hand, when she went on trips, she also left Sophie at home either to spy on me, to watch out for me, to keep me company or to give me something to do as I had to follow the proper diet rules and all the other instructions left behind.  We will miss that little dog…and especially my wife, Nola.  It is a sad thing to see someone you love in the midst of sorrow when someone precious to her has died.  

We all know that loss of any kind is one of the hard experiences of life on this earth, and everybody experiences it sometime in one way or another…but that knowledge doesn’t really make it any easier when it is our turn to suffer loss.

I don’t know if dogs go to heaven or not, even though the old cartoon movie asserts that they do.  I tend to think they might, as they aren’t the ones who brought sin in to the world, right?  Anyway, if they do, then I suspect that Sophie bounded around until she found my mother up there in heaven, and then jumped into Mom’s lap and heard Mom say, “Well, honey, what are you doing here?”  Then Sophie was the recipient of a great big, “welcome to heaven” hug!

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