1996 – 2008

March 24, 2008

Sophie came into our lives at the age of 7. She had spent the first 7 years of her life in a cage at a puppy mill in Kansas, cranking out litters of puppies every heat. When she was bred out and no longer productive, she was turned over to Brussels Griffon Rescue and I was lucky enough to be chosen to adopt this sweet little dog who had known no love or compassion her whole life.

At first, she hid in dark corners throughout the house, afraid of making contact. We slowly worked with her and gained her trust. The one thing she adored was to be able to roll in the grass and leaves (and sometimes other unsavory things), a luxury she had never known. She did not know what toys were for and never did learn how to play. She loved to eat and always acted like she could never get enough food, snorting like a little pig around her bowl for any dropped bits she might have missed. She also snored louder than any human I ever heard, which was comforting in a way, and I miss it so.

She was a sweet little girl, who never completely recovered from being a mill dog, but she would lick my hand, feet, face, whatever was closest, and was as affectionate as an abused dog could be. I could carry her over my shoulder like a baby and she would be content. Once at the local PetSmart, she was with me, and a lady came over to us and said “Is she a rescue dog?” And I said, “Yes, how did you know?” She said, “I could not help but notice she won’t take her eyes off you; she won’t let you out of her sight.” We needed each other.

The first few months we had her, she never made a sound. I was convinced that she had been de-barked when at the mill as is the custom sometimes. After she settled in though, she made her opinions well known. My daughter is a vet tech, and when we had Sophie in for her diabetes glucose testing, she had to remain at the vet’s for a few days with hourly blood testing. My daughter came out of an exam room and asked the other techs which dog was making so much noise…”your sister” they said. Little Sophie used to throw back her head like a tiny little wolf howling at the moon, closing her eyes. It was somewhere between a howl and a bark but she gave it her all when she was displeased, and being in a cage again made her very unhappy. She didn’t mind napping in a crate, as long as the door was open, though.

She attended a wedding with us, prettier than the bride, wearing a little wedding dress and veil, with our other Griff as a groom, and obliged me by wearing outfits I would buy her and let me photograph her, even in bunny ears last Easter. She was patient, and would always stand completely still for grooming like a little soldier.

When we got her, she had dry eye in one eye that had never been treated, so we had to keep drops in it twice a day to keep it from crusting shut. We had her for 3 good years before she developed diabetes and congestive heart failure. I thought we were losing her then, but with heart meds and insulin shots twice daily, and special Rx food, she bounced back again, although she was completely blind now and we had to have that old dead eye removed. Two more years went by. We blind-proofed the house with throw rugs throughout the house so she could find her way around. She did really well. She would always scratch at the door when she needed to go out and found her way to the door via the throw rugs. When she would go outside, she would still roll in the grass and loved the heat of the sun on her face, and we would talk her in back into the porch. All I had to say was “Sophie Girl, here I am” and she would run to me which is quite a trusting thing for a little dog to run in complete darkness.

We knew she was not well when she was coughing a lot and started sleeping on the headboard instead of in the bed with us. The vet later told us that her lungs were filling with fluid from her bad heart and sleeping on the hard surface made it easier for her to breathe. Finally, one night she could not even lie down; when she did she could not breathe. I sat up with her all night. She did not want to be held, so I sat beside her, watching her nod off so exhausted and falling over, then gasping for air and getting back up. We took her in the next morning. She was in intensive care for 1 day, 2 more days for observation and they said we could take her home complete with new medications. I was so excited, and emotionally worn out, and she licked my hand all the way home; she was weak but very glad to be going home. Two days later, she was vomiting blood, so we rushed her back to the vet. He wanted to run more tests. Next day, he told us her organs were shutting down and there was nothing more we could do. We had to let our Sophie Girl go. I know in my heart that if she had had proper care the first years of her life she would be beside me this very day. She was treated like livestock at that mill, not like the amazing dog she was. No dog should have to live like that. Thank God for Brussels Griffon Rescue and the work that they do for these amazing creatures.

We loved her, and wish we could have had more than 5 years with her. She was very special, but I am grateful to have shared a small part of her life. I will never forget her sweet face, the way she loved to snuggle, or the touch of her soft tongue on my hand. I have a portrait of her on the wall in my bedroom. We are fostering a new dog in her memory. May God bless you, Sophie, we miss you so.

MaryBeth and Dana

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