Yesterday was a sad day for my family and I. We had to put our sweet Sophia to rest.
Sophia was the big eared, anxious and cuddly dachshund chihuahua who graced our lives with humor and unconditional love.
I was eighteen when my parents and I chose her out of her four other siblings. She was the runt of the litter and as she grew bigger and remarkably more nervous, her veterinarian would always say how lucky she was to have found us. Dr. B said not many other people would continue to love and care for a dog that had so many needs - most of which seemed human-like.
Sophia didn’t go for walks. We tried a few times but could only make it one block. Most of the walk was trying to get her to move on her own without dragging her by the leash. She’d bunker down with her tail between her legs and jolt her head toward the street any time a car passed by. Any nearby sound startled her into submission. She was terrified of the world outside my parents’ house. Their house and backyard were her entire world, and she was content remaining within the confines of it.
Even though she was jittery by nature, when in her own territory, she was possessive and unafraid to stand her ground. Mostly any male that came into the home was welcomed and accepted, but females had to earn her trust and affection. When you were finally granted the privilege of petting or holding her, she was the most lovable dog.
She adored cozying up to your legs or chest as close as she could get when watching TV or reading a book. She loved playing with her toys or your hands if you pretended they were nemesis’s trying to attack her. She loved sleeping alongside you and would rest her head on the pillow next to you. I remember waking up some mornings and opening my eyes to see her staring at me. I’d think to myself, how long was she awake and watching me sleep for?
Sophia was the first and only dog I ever had, and I’m honored to have helped raise her and give her a beautiful life. I’m grateful that out of all the families who could have chosen her, we did. Even though she had needs beyond what the average dog requires, I think my family and I were the only people equipped to take on the job.
My parents viewed her as their fourth daughter, and as she began to decline with arthritis affecting her spine, she couldn’t walk as easily. My dad built a ramp for her to get off the recliner instead of using the portable doggy steps since they became too steep for her. He gave her daily massages to help ease the tightness throughout her body. Both my mom and dad got up with her at all hours of the night when she had trouble going to the bathroom. And any time someone watched her while they were away, there were about ten notes scattered throughout the house to instruct you on the little nuances she required.
“Make sure this light is ALWAYS on for her.”
“When she’s drinking water, let her have seven sips before taking the water away or she’ll cough it up.”
“Cut up some chicken and mix it with the dog food or she won’t eat.”
“Put her doggy bed in the sun when you’re outside. She likes to sit in the sun.”
“She likes this treat after breakfast and this treat after dinner. You can give her this treat in the afternoon.”
“Make sure you pick up her poops right after she goes outside, or she’ll accidentally step in it and bring it into the house!”
“Please let her sit with you while watching TV.”
Yes, some of those notes are just a tad crazy. My sisters and I would make fun of my parents for their extreme (and sometimes unnecessary) attention to detail, but looking back now, the fierceness in which they loved her is rare and so special. How lucky is little Soph to have had such adoring parents who treated her like their own human daughter? What a beautiful life to have lived while visiting here for a temporary stay. What gifts she brought that will be with us forever.
Now that she’s gone and those extra steps to ensure her well-being won’t be needed, there’s an emptiness that remains in her absence that won’t ever be filled. And that’s okay, because when you lose a pet, you don’t want the wound fully mended so that you won’t see the bruise anymore. Your scars remind you of what you were brave enough to love even though you knew you’d one day lose it.
To my little Sophia, my Monkey Head, my Monks, thank you for blessing my life with unrestricted love. Thank you for always being so excited to see me, even if only a few hours had passed after I left the house. Thank you for wanting to be next me and close by whenever I was around. Thank you for making me laugh at how moody a dog could be. Thank you for teaching me patience and the value in doing nothing but sitting still.
Thank you for choosing us to be your temporary home before returning to your eternal one.