“And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.”
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

Today is Sophie’s last day on this good, green earth. She has given us many years of all that makes dogs such blessed companions: unswerving loyalty, unbounded affection, reasons to smile in the midst of deep gloom. At sixteen, she can barely see and seldom hear. She has pretty much stopped eating. Although there are flashes of her old love of walking through woods and the pastures on our farm, she is mostly exhausted and in need of sleep. Acupuncture treatments have lost their efficacy, and I’ve had to have that difficult discussion with the vet and family: what is the responsible and loving thing to do?

Sophie had been rescued from a kill shelter in West Virginia and brought to New Jersey. We had adopted a Katrina dog before her, and nursed Sam back to good health, only to discover that his owner (who had been searching for his beloved dog ever since the hurricane had passed over New Orleans) wanted him back. Some months after that heartbreak, the shelter called to tell us that there was another rescue dog that we could love just as much: Sophie. They were right. And we have, these last fourteen years.

Suburban New Jersey was tolerable for Sophie, but she came into her own as a farm dog these last five years. Free of a leash, she has roamed far and wide, inspecting every inch and reveling in every view. She, too, found her piece of heaven, and that was a gift to us.

It is hard to say goodbye to those we love. Still harder, though, is to see them suffer. But there will be green fields where Sophie goes, and many sticks to be able to chase again…and we must draw some small comfort in that, some how…

“I had a dog
who loved flowers.
Briskly she went
through the fields,

yet paused
for the honeysuckle
or the rose,
her dark head

and her wet nose
the face
of every one

with its petals
of silk,
with its fragrance

into the air
where the bees,
their bodies
heavy with pollen,

and easily
she adored
every blossom,

not in the serious,
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom—

the way we praise or don’t praise—
the way we love
or don’t love—
but the way

we long to be—
that happy
in the heaven of earth—
that wild, that loving.”
Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

4 thoughts on “Sophie

  1. Since I also said goodbye (long ago) to a dog named Sophie, this brings that hard time back, Tara. I remember you and her walking out in NJ, loving the scene as she could. And I love reading about her new love for the fields. I’m sending hugs, too. It’s a loving tribute you’ve written today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a loss is so hard to go through, to describe adequately. But you and Mary of course did it so very well. Thinking about you, Scott, the “kids!” J

    Liked by 1 person

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