LETTERS TO MY SERVICE DOG ... The link to my personal blog, WENDY-LAND, is listed at right.

04 November 2014

Sophie's Memorial

Twelve minutes of sweet memories ... a memorial to our beautiful Sophie. 

Thank you for being part of her life!

04 September 2014

Just A Temporary Farewell

Dear Sophie,
Ten days you've been gone, and it feels like ten years.  I still cry every day and don't see the end of that anywhere in sight.  You can't imagine how much I miss you.
Where are you, Sophie?  Is there really a Rainbow Bridge?  Well, maybe it's not really called that but, yes, I believe there is.  The beautiful pictures we've all seen with the soft grass and pretty flowers and the cloudless sky and clear flowing streams ... I truly believe it's every bit as fresh, crisp, and brilliant, only a thousand times better than that!  And it's such a comfort to know in my heart that's where you are, alive and healthy and happier than you've ever been.
Your cancer took you so fast!  I guess that's a good thing, so your suffering wasn't dragged on and on, but I hardly got the chance to let your diagnosis sink in before you were taken away.
Actually, 'taken away' might be a poor choice of words.  When it was finally time for you to go, it took only a mere second or two and you were out of here!  There was no struggle, no fear, and no hesitation.  As I stroked your head and held your paw, something unexpected happened.  I could almost feel your spirit leaping out of this life and into the other side of eternity, leaving me wondering what you were seeing that was so amazing and exciting you couldn't wait to get there.
I know you're resting now, and you're at peace in such a glorious place my mind can't even conceive it, but you left a little piece of your heart here with me and, for that, I thank you.  And I thank God for allowing me to have such a beautiful friend in my life for so many years.  I still love you, dear Sophie, and I always will.
Rest easy, sweetie.  I'll see you in the morning!

And this concludes Dear Sophie.

17 August 2014

Slipping Away

My dear, dear Sophie,
You have leukemia, and lymphosarcoma.  I don't know all that much about either of them, but I do know that they're going to take you away from me very soon.
As I lie here on the floor with you and watch you breathe, I remember that, before you were even born, God knew how many breaths you'd take in your lifetime, and I wonder how many you have left.
I know you're ready to go.  But I'll never be ready to let you go.  I want to caress your beautiful head one more time.  I want to gaze into your soulful brown eyes one more time.  I want to hug you and tell you I love you one more time.  But "one more time", just like "tomorrow", is neverending.
I can't believe our time is almost over.  You should've had four or five more years before we'd have to think about this.
Do you know what's happening to you?  You seem to.  You're so graceful about it.  I wish I could know what's in your heart and what's going through your mind.
It has only been five days since your final diagnosis came down.  Dr. Katie estimated you'd live three to six more weeks but, tonight, I have to wonder if we'll have even one of those weeks.  You're slipping away so fast.
It's unthinkable to imagine my life and our home without you.  You're so much a part of me.  You've preserved my safety, and quite possibly my life, for so many years.  You made it possible to go places and do things safely and confidently, even when you would've rather stayed comfortably at home.  How can I ever thank you enough?
You'll be gone from us soon, Sophie, but only as far away as a memory.  And that being true, we'll be together forever in our hearts.

09 July 2014

How Do You Know?

Dear Sophie,
For the life of me, I can't figure out how you know there's a thunderstorm anywhere within 50 miles of home when there isn't a single sign of it anywhere close to us.  You were just fine all day without a care in the world and then, all of a sudden, you wouldn't go outside and began pacing and panting, and the next thing we knew you had hightailed it into the bathroom and jumped into the bathtub.  And while the East valley got soaked, we still haven't had any sign of anything here on the West side.  No thunder, only a tiny bit of far-distant lightning, and not a drop of rain.
Your Thundershirt used to work so well and now it's only effective with a double dose of Storm Stress.  Guess I'll be looking into some lavender oil for you.  It's the only suggestion we haven't tried. It'll take you a while to sleep off the quiet-drops but, thankfully, you seem to be okay now ... until the rain catches up to us.  Sigh!

05 June 2014

Ten Years Young

Dear Sophie,
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!  What a day you've had!
You didn't get a whole boatload of presents this year because, as sure as it's hot outside, Cubby would grab them up.  And bless your heart, you'd let him take them. So we did something a little differently this year.  Instead of toys, I thought you might like a relaxing nose-to-tail doggie massage.  You hadn't had one in a long time.  You enjoyed it for the most part, but there were places that obviously hurt, and once you even bared your teeth. That had to be some kind of pain for you to do that, so we quit.

Feeling a little adventurous at 3 a.m., I dug out all I could find of my old cake decorating tools and built you a birthday cake with ten gold leaves instead of candles.  You didn't get any yourself, which was okay as it didn't turn out that great anyway. I'm way out of practice!  But what you could enjoy was a peanut butter bone, and a little bucket of Frosty-Paws, plus first pick of the beggin' chunks!  Lots of special treats today!!

So now you're ten years old!  So much has happened in the past decade that It almost feels like you should be much older than ten.  I can say that, after all your tumors and surgeries in the past couple of years, I feel very blessed that you're still around to love on, and that you seem to be in pretty decent health.  You've gotten a little ouchy-and-grouchy on occasion but you still have enough energy to rough-and-tumble with Cubby and help out with his training.
One thing I really don't think you miss is being a service dog.  You've been perfectly happy to let Cubby step into the job so you can just be a plain ol' pet.  I still ask little things of you here and there so you won't forget everything completely, but I can see you're very happy in your new role and just enjoy getting back to the basics of being a dog.
I pray you'll have a comfy year ahead, with no more of those scary health issues.  I admit I get awfully nervous sometimes, you being in your geriatric years but, getting up in years myself, I understand things don't work as well as they did when we were young and agile. They're not supposed to.  Parts wear out and get achy and, while it's not a whole lot of fun, it's to be expected and respected, and we get through it somehow.
So Happy Birthday, sweetie.  If the Lord is willing, I'll be writing up another of these posts one year from now.  I love you, Sophie!

10 February 2014

Hangin' It Up

Dear Sophie,
What a fabulous Irish Rovers concert just a week ago tonight!  It was your sixth concert of theirs and, girl, you just ate up every minute of it!  You made lots of new friends, but it was the old friends you were happiest to see.  And they were glad to see you too.  George needed a little puppy loving and you were only too happy to snuggle right up.
The Rovers are on their Very Long Goodbye tour as a prelude to their retirement, so it seemed quite the fitting event to begin yours.  Sophie, I know you're tired and you really don't want to be a service dog anymore.  While I don't think you'll ever completely retire for good, at least until Cubby is fully settled into the job, I decided this concert outing would be your last.  We're hanging up your harness and promoting you to "pampered pet" who will enjoy a generous retirement package, including getting cheese on your kibble every time Cubby gets some. But he'll have to work for it.  You won't.  When he gets a Beggin' Strip after behaving in a restaurant, I'll come home and give you one too.  It'll be one perk after another for you.  Pretty cool, eh?
I can hardly believe this day has come.  Where did the years go?  They disappeared like a vapor trail behind us and now your whole career is over.  I love the adage, "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."  Oh, yes, my sweet girl, I'm smiling, rejoicing, giving thanks, and celebrating.  You've enriched my life so much, and given me freedom, confidence, and independence I couldn't have imagined.
What a career you've had.  You did your job so well, even when it became uncomfortably demanding and a lot more than you bargained for.  You accompanied me on 59 flights into 16 states (and a District).  Airplanes, trains, subways, buses ... you did it all, always carrying with you grace, strength, and focus; keeping me safe and balanced, and most of all, loved.
You've seen more in your 9-1/2 years than many dogs see in a hundred lifetimes.  I tried to make it fun for you and, for the most part, I think you were very happy.  I hope so.
Your harness and cape won't be passed down to Cubby.  He'll have to earn his own and he's well on his way to doing just that.  I used to worry about hurting your feelings as he stepped into your job but it doesn't seem to bother you at all.  You're perfectly happy to let him go for it.
So, my pretty girl, from the bottom of my heart I thank you so much for the eight years of faithful service you've so selflessly given.  I'll make your retirement as happy and peaceful as I possibly can, never allowing you to grow stale and bored.  You need to stay active and sharp.
Don't think that, just because I have Cubby now, you don't count anymore.  I always need you, and I'll always love you.
Happy Retirement, Big Girl.  You earned it!

04 June 2013

Happy 9th Birthday!

Dear Sophie,
Happy Birthday!  Nine years old!  We owe you a new peanut butter bone next time we get to PetSmart, but at least you got your main present on time ... How do you like your new interactive treat toy?  I think it'll keep you plenty busy trying to figure it out.
In this year's birthday post I won't say, "My how the time has flown."  It hasn't.  So many things have happened in all our lives I'm actually thinking, "Has it only been one year?"
You've been a major source of comforting distraction to Daddy and me as we've faced extreme health issues in both of our mothers, and you've even been there to offer some cheer to them too.  I can't tell you how much it has meant to us to have you around to keep us from sinking over the daunting challenges of dealing with all this.
And what a wild and crazy year this has been for you too!  Two cancer surgeries, the unexpected complication of a seroma after your last one, and then ... ta-da ... the addition of a new baby brother, Cubby.
It was a brand new experience for you.  You've never had to share us before and, when we first brought him home, you were noticeably annoyed.  He wanted so much to play with you and you didn't want much to do with him at all.
Then by the second night, you must've decided he wasn't going anywhere so you might as well step up to the surrogate mother role, and you've been great ever since.  You don't do much cuddling with him.  Mostly you've been the disciplinarian, teaching him that nipping and head-butting are not acceptable, many of the things his own mom would've taught him if he had stayed with her for that final week.  You're really good at that, Sophie.  His head and neck fit very nicely into your mouth and you quell that obnoxious behavior very well.  Your motherhood job seems to fulfill your life lately, as there hasn't been a lot of service work I've been asking of you.  I'm glad.  You need a job, and this one is every bit as important as helping me.  Y'know, Sophie, maybe between the two of us, we just might be able to keep that boy in line!  What do you think?
Your life is changing, my pretty lady, and I marvel at the grace with which you're aging.  It dares me to catch a glimpse of a year down the road when I'm writing up your tenth birthday post.  You'll surely be fully retired by then, but only from service work.  You'll never retire from my heart or my love.

09 May 2013

What A Trooper!

Dear Sophie,
A week ago we were groaning, "Here we go again."  Cancer.  Gosh, I hate that word almost as much as I hate that disease.
It was tiny, about the size of a tick bite; in fact, I didn't know for sure it wasn't until it didn't go away.  I kept an eye on it for a couple of weeks and then suddenly noticed it was getting a little bigger.  Right into the vet's office you went!  Dr. Melissa was impressed that I found something so small but it was pretty routine for me.  I've always been obsessive in checking you over for ticks at least once a day, and pay even more attention since your last mast cell tumor.
Your surgery was a week ago but, looking at you now, you'd never know it.  You romp and run all over the back yard, paying no attention to your incision and twelve stitches.  I'd rather you wouldn't do that quite yet, but who can stop you?  When you get wound up and start running circles, the only thing I can do is stay out of your way!
Today we got a message from both of your vets ... the tumor was low grade and completely excised!  Once again, thanks to Dr. Katie, Dr. Melissa, and the whole staff, you're in the clear.  God bless those wonderful people!
Now, Sophie, I really need you to stay healthy and fit because you're about to embark on the most important job you've ever done in your life.  You're going to raise a puppy!  Cubby will look upon you as a surrogate mom.  He'll imitate you.  He'll learn from you.  And most of all, he'll climb all over you and cuddle with you.  Your service dog career is almost over, but your teaching career is only beginning.  I think you'll shine!

10 April 2013

I Know You're Tired

Dear Sophie,
You're only two months shy of nine years old.  You've been working now for about seven and a half years.  Your job hasn't been anywhere near as difficult as most working dogs I've known but, for the past few months, you've made it awfully clear you just don't want to do it anymore.  I can't blame you.  Your eyes aren't what they used to be, you've got some arthritis here and there, and you get tired more easily.  Most of us aging folks do, so I understand.
The hunt is on for your successor, and it's not as easy as I thought it'd be.  It may take a while and, in the meantime, I'm going to have to ask you to hang in there with me.  I'll take it easy on you, especially with summertime coming on, and I'll do as much as I can on my own.  You'll be sort-of "semi-retired".  But there'll be times when I really need you with me and I'll ask you to harness up and even boot up when the pavement gets hot.
So bear with me, sweetie.  I'm looking hard for your successor and the Lord will bring us together when the time is right.  You know, having a brother to play with might just go a long way toward making you feel young again.  I'll need you to make him feel welcome, and help assimilate him into our family.  He'll have many things to learn and I'm counting on you to help teach him.  He might get lonesome for his friends he left behind and I'm hoping you'll comfort him.
Please don't ever feel like you're being replaced.  You'll have a place in our family and in our hearts for the rest of your life and ours.  I'll love you every bit as much as ever, and you'll never be obsolete or cast off because you're old.  But you're entitled to your golden years (no pun intended).  You've earned them, and it'll be my privilege to help you enjoy them.  I love you, Sophie, and you'll always be Mama's best girl.

31 October 2012

A Special Christmas Gift

Dear Sophie,
It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but there's no sense in waiting almost eight weeks for something you need right now.  Being in the throes of middle age creaks, aches, and pains, I totally relate to what you are most likely feeling yourself.  With your aging joints, the last thing you need is a lumpy bumpy dog bed in your crate.  So ... how do you like your new memory foam crate pad?
Guess you must like it pretty fine; you're in there so much I'm wondering if I even have a dog anymore.  Merry Early Christmas, sweetie!

21 October 2012

Another First

Dear Sophie,
Your first time in a dentist's office really surprised me.  We took Grandma in earlier this week to have her teeth cleaned, and we went back with her in case she needed to hear or remember anything important.
The whines and squeaks and growling of all the instruments and the up and down of the chair didn't phase you at all.  You hardly even seemed interested.
The hygenist sure did like you! 
You made friends right away.  That's the highest counter I've ever seen you put your paws up on.  You know when someone loves dogs, don't you?
Inside the exam room you were as good as gold, nary a move or an interest in what was going on.  I wish you were that cooperative when you get your own teeth cleaned!

08 August 2012

We Sure Didn't See This Coming

Dear Sophie,
Part Two of catching up finds a few more white hairs on my head and, after this, I'm surprised there are any more red ones.
As we do every year after the reunion trip, we visited the vet for your annual vaccines and a check-up.  You had a few little bumps I wanted checked out, and we needed to make sure your shoulders were still in good shape.
On that Friday afternoon, the little bump I wanted to show the doctor was gone but, in looking for it, I found one on your side that hadn't been there before!  Considering all the time I spend with my hands on you, I wouldn't have missed this one if it had been there for long.  The vet didn't like it either so she sent in a needle biopsy of it.
Four very long days later on Tuesday afternoon, that obscene six-letter word made my stomach sink.  Cancer.  The vet wouldn't know its depth until she could operate, but it was serious and needed to get taken care of right now.  Blood work on Wednesday preceded surgery on Thursday.
There's no debating that prayer is powerful!  When we dropped you off at the animal hospital, I fully expected to dissolve into tears in the van, but I didn't!  Trusting the hospital staff's promise to call if anything went wrong, I actually went home and took a good long nap.  The peace throughout this whole ordeal was incredible, especially the way I always worry about everything!  I awoke to an e-mail from the vet with attached pictures of you about one hour post-op, so I could see for myself you were all right.  And in just a couple of minutes, I talked to the doctor and you were cleared to go home anytime, with thirteen staples closing up your six-inch incision.
You did amazingly well all weekend.  I kept you quiet and resting all weekend with your fox and your blanky but, after those few days, you were acting like nothing ever happened!
The best news came on Tuesday morning ... the pathology report came back.  Yep, the vet got all the cancer!
I really worried this might end your career as a service dog but, after only a few days, I knew you'd still be going at it.  It was hard to keep you down.  You were ready to play and couldn't understand why I wouldn't let you.
Finally, yesterday, only four weeks after diagnosis, just three and a half weeks after surgery, you were back in harness and out for a three-hour work.  Granted, it was nothing strenuous, but still downright amazing!
As an incidental bonus, I didn't even have to shave your hair or trim it back.  No one would even see your boo-boo unless they're looking for it.  Guess that's one of the benefits of being a long-haired dog.
You and I had so many prayers going up for us, Sophie, and we felt and experienced ... and so immensely appreciated ... each one.  Truly, we came through this on angel's wings.

Slowing Down

Dear Sophie,
I'm a little late getting this posted; that's why the dates don't match up. But you must admit these past two months have been nonstop chaos, putting me behind on everything! So let's work on catching up.
Your 58th flight carried you across the country to our annual family reunion. Thankfully, we have a great vet who dispensed your colitis medicine on a "just in case" basis, knowing as well as we did what could happen if we were caught thousands of miles from home without it. Practically the moment we got to Cousin Jim's house, I was dropping a pill and a half down your throat and you were medicated for the rest of the trip. That pretty much told me these cross-country flights have just become too much for you, so I made the sad decision not to take you on any more. Am I still going back East each year? Absolutely!! But you'll get to stay home with Daddy, which I'm sure you'll enjoy more anyway.
The reunion keeps getting better every year and you had such a good time playing with all new children!
You often sacked out in your crate when you needed a rest, but you seemed to be a little more involved with the festivities this year than you were in years past, maybe because of the absence of any firing cannons or raging thunderstorms.
Now fast-forward to the night before we were to leave for home. Just when I thought there wasn't much more mischief you could get into! I had never seen any reason you couldn't go outside alone. Jim has an incredibly spacious back yard with grass and trees and the wonderful scents of birds and squirrels and other sorts of various wildlife. It's a dog's dream sniffing spot!
I thought you were staying outside a little longer than usual so I went out back and called you. You didn't come, even when the call turned into a command. I figured you were way up on the hill and you didn't hear me. Fifteen or so minutes later, I called you again and, this time, traced a few scratchy noises to the side of the house. A flashlight, a shovel, and twenty minutes of frantic digging freed you from being wedged in tight UNDERNEATH the porch!
How you got that way I'll never know but there must've been something really incredible under there for you to pull something like that. It's just like you to end your cross-country flight experiences with one really memorable hoopla. Anything to make Mama's hair turn whiter than it already is.
The flight home was a little easier on you because I babied you all the way, reversing our roles and being your support as best I could.
Now that you're getting a little older, Sophie, I'll need to be watching for things I never had to before so as not to expect things from you that you just shouldn't be doing anymore. You willingly do anything I ask you to, whether you can do it painlessly or not.
So, to that end, I promise you to be continually mindful of your advancing years and your retreating comfort level. You've served me faithfully and beautifully all these years, and now it's time to begin turning the table a little.

04 June 2012

My Sweet 8-Year-Old

Dear Sophie,
Another year has passed so quickly and you're eight years old already.  Taking into account "dog years" I figure we're roughly the same age now ... kinda getting up there, aren't we?
Even though it was a fairly quiet year in comparison to all those past, you racked up a few firsts since your last birthday.  You took your first boat ride and your first subway ride, visited one more state (and a District), paid your respects at the graves of President Kennedy and his brothers, and brought your total flights up to 57.
Gee, Sophie, all your toys are in good shape, you're all set for treats, and you have plenty of gear and grooming tools, so I don't know what to get you for your birthday. And it's way too hot to go anywhere. Guess we'll just have to settle for a scoop of ice cream and some extra cuddle time, and just have fun whenever the opportunity presents itself. And I promise there'll be lots of those in your coming year! Happy Birthday, Sophie.  You're so dearly loved!

28 March 2012

DC Dog

Dear Sophie,
Sophie & the Washington MonumentOur eight days in Washington DC was the longest and most difficult trip you've ever taken in your life, but it may comfort you to know that you'll likely never have to work that hard again.
It really took its toll on both of us. The pace in that district is like living your life on fast-forward and, while it was truly awesome, it not only reminded me why I'm on disability, it reinforced the importance of slowing down and being quiet.
The weather was nuts! One day it'd be shivery cold, and the next unbearably hot. And wouldn't you know it ... record highs many of the days we were there. (sigh)
Sophie at zoo entranceThe Smithsonian museums were amazing! The National Zoo is part of it, and that's where we spent the first day, oooing and aahing over the red pandas, the first ones I ever saw for real! Sophie and meercatsYou didn't seem interested in them, though, nor they in you. Your moment came at the meerkat and shrew enclosures where you stood eye to eye with them for the longest time!Sophie and a shrew
The exhibits at the Museum Of Natural History, the Museum of American History, and the Air & Space Museum didn't interest you at all. You were more concerned with getting me safely through the crowds and keeping me steady on my feet and I sure do thank you for that. Even at the dinosaur section which was totally mobbed you never once faltered.Sophie and a dinosaur
To keep you from being too stressed I generally cut you some slack when you're traveling, so I allowed you to make many new friends. Children by the dozens asked to pet you ... that's right ... they asked first!! There were some rude adults who reached out and distracted you but it was the children who got it right! I always thank them for asking so the message might go even further.
Wednesday was a day of much-needed rest and relaxation in West Hyattsville, visiting the places where Mike/Daddy grew up ... his old house, school, church, and then out to the little creek he used to play at. In the evening, what fun we had with the Irish Rovers! Irish Rovers founder George Millar with Sophie After a fabulous concert with the best seats we've ever had, it was time for your usual hugs and cuddles with George and oh how you loved that! And hopefully you won't have to wait another year or longer for any more ... they're supposed to tour the West coast this fall!
JFK gravesiteThen on Thursday you started all over again working like a dog. More museums, Arlington National Cemetery, hopping from one bus or trolley to another, and even paying your respects to a former US President.
I think the place you were most valuable out of any of them was the subway. They sure don't keep it well-lit and with my degrees of shading I could hardly see a thing. You maneuvered me all over the stations, elevators, and platforms, and kept me safe from falling and walking into things. dark subwayEven the loud rumbles, speeding trains, and some really weird smells didn't distract you. You were all business!
It had been a 4-1/2 hour flight to DC, a week of intense stress, and a 5 hour flight back to Phoenix so it was no wonder your tummy troubles kicked up into high gear, but wow, Sophie, you waited till we got home before allowing yourself to crumble. That's amazing to me. And it didn't matter how tired or crampy you were when you finally got back to your own back yard ... you ran circles and circles and circles, turned around and ran more circles the other way, and the minute our back was turned you dug a hole in your favorite spot. It wouldn't have been nearly as funny if it hadn't been raining ... oh, the mud!!
So thanks, Big Girl, for all you did for me all week. You're amazing, and so very much loved and appreciated.

23 January 2012

Sailor Dog

Dear Sophie,
Another milestone, your first boat ride, was so much fun I hope we can do it again sometime ... maybe somewhere other than the middle of the desert, but even the desert was pretty cool when you're looking at it from the middle of Canyon Lake. Of course it didn't hurt to have heavy overcast skies and temperatures in the low 60's ... absolutely perfect conditions!
We took Grandma out on the boat with the two tickets we won at the Happy Tails Christmas party, and did we ever have a great afternoon!
You never cease to amaze me, Sophie. You went aboard the boat like it was nothing different at all, more interested in the ducks than anything else on the way down ... the fruits of being bred from a hunting line I suppose.
Once on board, you plopped down on the deck and we never heard a peep out of you the whole trip. I was so proud of you!
So now, let's see ... you've done airplane, boat, bus, rail ... we'll see what we can do about getting you on a subway while we're back East ... and then I think you'll have pretty much done it all. (Don't even think about trying to ride a horse; ain't gonna happen.)
Thanks for being a good girl today, Sophie, and especially for the few "catches" you braced for. I can always depend on my girl!

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas, Sophie

Dear Sophie,
Christmas lasted two days this year, as our family celebration was yesterday, and then it was just the three of us today. As crazy as it was, I think everybody had a great time. I know you did.
I love playing Santa Dog ... the only hard part is sifting through all the adorable dog toys and accessories to decide on just a few. You got a new emergency flashy ball for your collar for when you fly because your old one finally broke (after 55 flights). And a squeeky mat and a skinneez fox and a rattling octopus and a plush pull toy and some paw print stickers for your scrapbook and a peanut butter stuffed bone and some Charlee Bears from Grandma. Wow ... what a bundle! And that's not counting a new crate pad we had to get you earlier on because yours was wearing so thin.
And then you gave me your best present ... a chorus of squeeky noises, the gnawing, cracking, and slurping as you dug into that bone, and best of all, a wildly wagging tail, followed by a long nap all cuddled up with your fox! Merry Christmas, Sophie!

05 August 2011

Social Sophie

Sophie and CaseyDear Sophie,
We had a great afternoon! Andy and Melissa and the children got a new Husky-Shepherd mix puppy! Isn't he absolutely adorable?
Of course we couldn't wait to see him, and they asked us to bring you with us so they could start socializing him. You were tickled pink you got to come with us, and you were pretty taken with the ten-week-old Colonel Casey from the minute you met.
Then you just sort-of settled in and let Casey make all the acquainting moves. And what adorable moves he made!pawing Sophie's nose
You laid still and quiet, tolerant of his climbing all over you, pouncing on you, and especially cuddling up to you. It wasn't meant to be for you to be a wonderful mother but, as an auntie dog, you're tops!nose to nose
I would say thank you for helping begin Casey on his life's journey, but I think the pleasure was all yours. We'll have to do that way more often.

03 July 2011

Reunion 2011

Dear Sophie,
How did you like your third family reunion? We're getting better at preparing for these, aren't we?
As usual, the Charlotte flight was packed full; in fact all of them were, the two flights going in and the two coming home. We ran into a few snags at the airports too ... longer security lines and gate changes ... but we made it, all because of your support! You were as ready as I was to drop, but we kept each other going until we got to our gates. I'd tell ya but you already know, air travel in the summer isn't the most comfortable thing in the world!
We had a wonderful welcoming crew in Tri-Cities ... Jim was there, and Amy with her whole family! Sooo much fun! Finally we made it to Jim's house where you and DJ fell all over each other. First thing you had to do was go outside and rough-house! Funny, though, that didn't last very long. You were one tired pup!
There were a couple of little trips I made with Jim and Brenda, like to the store to buy food for the reunion. I was a little nervous about leaving you inside a strange home ... that was a first ... but we returned to find everything just fine and you didn't seem to have been bothered by it at all. And you didn't even get into any mischief with DJ. Good girl!!
snug and cozy in the crateYou poor dog ... you just can't catch a break at the reunions, can you? At least there were no cannons this time but we weren't out of the truck twenty seconds before a fierce thunderstorm with howling winds dumped right on top of us. So ... on with the Thundershirt and up with your new canvas crate (thankfully we had put it together once the night before so we knew how to set it up) and you had a nice little shelter from everything! You took a dive into that crate (sideways!!) and you didn't come out till the very end of the afternoon. You seemed perfectly happy with no desire to come out and socialize, much to the chagrin of the children who wanted to play with you.
No thunder or wind or rain could dampen the joy and the love being passed around at the reunion. How I appreciated your willingness to sit the whole thing out in your crate while I visited with my family. I love them all so much!
bison bullOn our way out of the state park, you encountered your first bisons ... two huge bulls, two cows, and two babies! big bison bullWe got out of the truck, very cautiously, and took you to say hello. They sure were watching you, especially the one great bull by the fence, but you didn't seem especially impressed by them. I bet if they were ground squirrel sized you would've been.
The next night, I dared to leave you at home again while my cousins and I met up at Cracker Barrel for Father's Day. We were there for hours, visiting, shopping, and playing checkers after dinner. It was so much fun! And when we got back to the house at nearly 11pm, there you were just as good as gold. Oh, Sophie, I was so proud of you!
I know these cross-country trips aren't easy and the reunion weekends are tiring and stressful for you, but you're such a good sport about it all and I appreciate you so much! Could I have done it without you? Sure. But not as confidently, safely, or independently. I wish you could know just how much you add to my life with your service, but the best I can give you is praise, lots of cookies, and even more rubs and scratches and loving ... which is all you ever ask for.
Thanks, baby, for another wonderful reunion weekend.

04 June 2011

Lucky 7

Dear Sophie,
Another year has zipped by faster than we could even breathe. The same as us humans, it seems the older you get, the faster it goes.
wendy & sophie on trainYou had an eventful year, though, and gave another year of support, protection, balance, and safety. You just can't know how much I love and appreciate you.
Let's see ... what have you accomplished this year? You fell in love with a lion and a rabbit, learned how to pick up the telephone, and had your first surgery. Because I exercised a little common sense, you didn't get to pick up any new states to add to your been-there list, but you took your first train ride on the Phoenix light rail.
first officer, sophie, & wendyAnd two weeks ago you hit a milestone that, even though I've taken you through them all, still amazes me ... your 50th airplane flight! It was fun, wasn't it? The whole crew signed a certificate for you, model airplane and water bottleand you got a really cool pink sport bottle with the US Airways logo on it, and a model of an Airbus 321 to put up on a shelf in your corner.
So you're a seven-year-old now! So far you haven't shown any signs of slowing down or leaning toward retirement, so we'll keep working and playing together, learning new things, and thanking God for every minute we get to spend together.
Happy Birthday, Sophie! May this coming year be your best yet, filled with all your favorite things ... balls on a strap, towels to play with, peanut butter, string cheese, and maybe even a new adventure or two. I love you, Big Girl!

05 February 2011

Eight Hours In Vegas

Dear Sophie,
We had one incredible adventure last Saturday, didn't we? We only had five more flights to go to get you to the 50 mark so we flew up to Vegas to go see the big kitty cats at Mirage. You love love love big kitty cats! Of course we started off at Paris and, because Google Maps said the Mirage was only 0.6 miles from Paris, I decided we'd hoof it ... nice and slow and easy and we could do it with no problem. Well, it might be half a mile as the crow flies, but you have to zig-zag through a maze of street crossings, lifts, and bridges! By the time we actually got there, we were both ready to collapse.
Then we found out the tigers aren't in their free enclosure anymore ... they were moved to a huge area in back of the hotel with the dolphins, and you have to pay to get in! entrance to secret garden So after we found a little alcove where we could rest, get you a drink, and cool off, we set out looking for that. With their assurance that it was safe to take you in, and because we had all that walking invested already, we forked over the $15 and went in to the little miniature zoo.

dolphinsWell, Sophie, you seemed totally unimpressed by the dolphins, even at the underwater walls, so we went across another bridge to the kitty zoo and had a ball!! I was surprised to see llamas and alpacas in there, but they were very cute. And they were entranced at this new and different visitor, like they had never seen a dog before. curious alpacas and llamas A leopard was guarding his territory; he never did hiss or spit but he definitely had a cattitude about him. The white tigers never gave you a second look, but the orange tiger sure did! pacing tiger
territorial leopard I wasn't really sure whether he was being friendly with all that pacing, or if he was looking for lunch, so we moved on so as not to antagonize him. Then it all turned magical when we came across three full-grown male African lions who made the whole trip worth it! lion in love starry-eyedOne of the lions just couldn't take his eyes off of you! He was absolutely in love,
like you were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life! You stood eye-to-eye for several minutes and, each time I'd try to take you away, he looked like he was going to cry. We must've stayed with him for half an hour, and we only left because we had a shuttle to catch back to the airport. So, alas, you said goodbye to this exquisite lion with my Biblically-based promise that someday he'd see you again, if not on this side of eternity, then on the other.
I thought getting to the Mirage was exhausting enough, but getting back to Paris about killed me! Frequent drinks seemed to be all you needed but I was definitely not doing well at all! Still, somehow we got where we were going and, Sophie, I'll tell ya, I could never have made it without you. We got back just in time to get picked up and shuttled back to the airport for your 47th flight. Though we had only been gone twelve or so hours, your joy to be home matched any you've felt when we were gone for a week.
So now, three more flights and you'll get your 50 and can stop the obsession! Where will we go next?