Sophie, in her Pennsylvania backyard: A mischievous personality and reassuring bark
September 13, 2011
She had more than her share of endearing quirks. Walks with Sophie were punctuated by her pointing at every rustle of wildlife in nearby underbrush. Her diet would horrify an animal nutritionist, composed as it was of whatever tasty treats her beloved person — Frances’s mother, Frankie — happened to have on her own plate each meal. And God help you if Sophie got loose outdoors because there was no catching her. She flew faster than any wind, despite having suffered multiple fractures of her back right leg as a puppy.
Sophie came to central Pennsylvania in May of 2005, an English setter whose fear of gunshots and thunder exempted her from her breed’s traditional fate as a hunting companion. For a dignified woman like Frankie, Sophie’s mischievous personality and reassuring warning bark made her a perfect late-life companion and foil.
When Frankie closed her eyes for the last time in July, it was natural to bring Sophie to our farm in Texas, which was large enough that she could never run out of room to roam, and full of a variety of animals – sheep, chickens, cats and dogs — every bit as quirky as she was. She fit in quickly, full of curiosity about the cats, distracted by those chickens, possessed of a healthy respect for the lead female bitch Freckles, and content to keep us company inside the house each night.
When our good friend Karen, who farm-sits for us when we are out of town, reported that Sophie suddenly had immensely swollen glands and lethargy two weeks ago, we wondered, “Snake bite? Bee sting?” We were shocked upon our return by the puffiness in her neck. In a matter of days, Sophie had become a different dog. It was no surprise yesterday when the results from the lab indicated that she was suffering from late-stage
lymphosarcoma. Two vets confirmed that she had less than 30 days to live. She had stopped eating and drinking and was ready to leave us. And so, she did, this morning.
Sister Esme said it best when she reminded us of longtime family friend Jay’s vision of Frankie flying across the sky in a fancy red sports car. Now we can add to this picture Miss Sophie in the back seat, with ears flapping and joy in her heart. May the two of them enjoy peaceful roads and good times, together always.