Sophy and I are lying under a blanket in the yard.It’s an absolutely gorgeous October day. She’s dying. Periodically tremors run through her body. I can’t quite imagine life without her, my boon companion, travel partner, painting buddy, and the being with whom I can exclaim on the beauty of the day and bid sweet dreams at night. And so I’ll write while she dozes, one beautiful velvet gray black ear sticking out from under the blanket, eyes almost closed, nose cuddled against my side.
Sophy came to my ex husband and I almost fifteen years ago, one January evening. Tim opened the door with his arm crooked and within was a teeny teeny puppy, just four weeks old. She spent her first night with us tucked in bed, between our heads. She was such a pleasure to watch grow up, a blue ball fetcher and tugger and teddy bear thwacker. One of our games was to throw a teddy over the kitchen wall into the living room where Sophy waited, head up, to catch it and give it a vigorous thwacking. We could do this for hours, generally involving a tug of war when she returned the teddy to the kitchen for another go.
I hope as she gently departs that there will be a moment at least when she relives running like the wind up and down slickrock waves, one minute at our feet and the next on the skyline, eyes unclouded, hearing acute, and hips free of pain.
Sophy would accompany my on my painting jaunts and was an expert at relocating the site I’d been working at the day before, knowing just which juniper, on a long ridge of junipers,was the right spot. As a youngster, she’s flop down and sigh and harrumph dramatically if I was drawing in the car too long. In recent years though she’d gently snooze patiently so I didn’t have to feel guilty about her enforced inactivity.
Five years ago I got Aphrodite, my vintage Toyota RV, and I made a bed seat for her in the front passenger seat and as soon as I reached for my pastels, she’d sidle onto her seat. She liked Aphrodite better than the car and was eager for a jaunt even last week.
And now to continue after sweet Sophy has died….
One thing that made me laugh aloud as I was lying with Sophy that last afternoon was the remembrance of her in her prime ball catching days. She’d lie down and wait for me to retrieve the ball and when I’d ask her “where’s the ball?” without moving her head she would swerve her eyes and stare pointedly in the ball’s direction.
That last ride in Aphrodite, Sophy no longer raised herself up to look with eagerness out the window to see what was going on but lay her jaw on my hand, which was holding the gear shift. And so we’d gently do a gear shift dance, her jaw moving along with my hand as I changed gears.
Sophy gradually slowed down in the last several years, first with her arthritis growing worse, and then sight and hearing became impaired so our walks became sniff/strolls. The scent still always a pleasure.Sophy loved lying outside at night sniffing the night air and keeping an eye on things. Our relationship became less about activity and more about companionship. Even in the last week, when it was hard for her to rise, if I drove off she would hobble up the path to lie in wait for me to return. So when I drove in, Sophy’s wonderful crooked eared silhouette was there to greet me, always looking glad that I was back. And towards the end, When she could no longer do the stairs, she would get me out at night to marvel at the night stars and make our way around the house with a flashlight to the bedroom below.
I have felt Sophy’s presence but so miss her beautiful gentle brown eyes and velvet ears and wonderful swishing white tail. So my dearest Sophy, thank you so very much for all of the precious years of love and companionship, teaching me unconditional love, and what being in the now is all about.You will always be in my heart.