-We’re not a particularly religious family, but one of my husband’s favorite sayings makes a reference to God. He says, “God has a sense of humor.” What he means is the “almighty” seems to hand out only a portion of the attributes we need to be great in this life. And sometimes just when we get close to achieving the goal we aspire to most, it’s taken away. That was the case with our dog Sophie, who loved being the fastest runner at the dog park until it was taken away by paralysis. This is the beginning of our journey.
The idea to add a third dog to our family grew out of a bet during a baseball game at Wrigley Field. In an attempt to keep our son, Matthew and me interested in the game, my husband Ken made the wager to adopt a new dog if the Chicago Cubs hit 12 homeruns. Actually none of us remember if he said 10 or 12 homeruns, but it was a big, unrealistic number and he thought he was safe about winning his side of the bet. What he didn’t take into account was the fact it was 1998; the year when two baseball players on the Cubs, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, would break world records for the most homeruns hit in a season. To my delight, I returned to our hometown of Las Vegas ready to go directly from the airport to the city shelter.
My husband had one request regarding a new dog. Since we already had a 106lb. German shepherd named Bear and large Shepherd mix named Missy, he asked if I could find a smaller dog to bring home.
The next day after school Matthew and I headed out to one of the city animal shelters. Unfortunately as soon as we walked through the doors they announced they were closing early and we had to leave. Matthew was devastated so I decided to visit another shelter the next day while he was in school.
It had rained the morning I went to the shelter and I remember how wet all of the dog runs seemed. Even though the runs gave the animals access to the outside and indoors, they had tracked enough water inside to make it cold and damp.
As I walked up and down the aisles a small brown puppy with floppy ears and huge eyes sat quietly in the front of her cage watching me. I bent down to get a closer look, but a bigger black Lab puppy pushed her out of the way. He jumped all over the cage, his body shouting “look at me.”
Both puppies were adorable and I wanted to scoop both of them into my arms, but Ken’s words rang in my head. I knew the Lab would grow into a big dog soon so I decided to get a better look at the little one.
During our “meet and greet” I couldn’t take my eyes off the little brown puppy and she stared right back at me. Most dogs don’t like to look into your eyes, but this little dog seemed to love it. I gave her my personal temperament test, rolling her on her back and checking for signs of aggression. She passed them all, although I noticed she didn’t seem to have the same energy as the Lab puppy. I read that she had been picked up as a stray and the day before she had been spayed and received her vaccinations. I suspected her lethargy might be due to her ordeal. I decided to adopt the serious little puppy.
The puppy and I arrived just in time to pick up my carpool of boys from middle school. She seemed to perk up when she met the crew. And Matthew absolutely fell in love with her. I felt like a great Mom.
I asked the boys to help me name her. First we decided that our family liked human names vs. typical dog names like Fido or Spot. They began calling out girls’ names and we decided to rule out anyone we personally knew someone with that name. Finally one boy suggested Sophia and somehow during the rest of the drive the name was softened to Sophie.
Matthew and I brought Sophie home and introduced her to Bear, Missy and our cat Muffin. It was an easy transition, led by Missy who had helped me welcome lots of other pets into our household. It also helped that the new puppy was so mellow.
Our new extended family had dinner, but the puppy threw up. We attributed it to her big day. The next morning Sophie woke up with Distemper.