Sophie in Memoriam

She was sitting under the dining room table shivering when I walked in. I didn’t really know what to expect, really. I knew she would be small, but I didn’t know just how small, nor did I have any clear idea of what a Dachshund looked like up close. I had seen a few of them in the street, but to have a reddish, brown, short haired one sitting like a starving, beaten child under a table was an entirely different matter. I went over to reach my hand in and touch her long nose. Mom stopped me. “She may nip at you, sweetie. She’s pretty scared.”

“Why is she under the table?” I asked. Why not a bed? or the couch?

“She was in the pen for longer than most dogs. I think she finds the legs and ceiling of the table comforting.” Mom mused, crossing her arms and staring at the tiny brown dog.

I stared. She looked anxious. I assumed she’d probably come out of that and grow to be comfortable. I was wrong. Almost her whole life Sophie was an anxious wreck, shivering like a leaf when scared and furrowing her little doggie brows at the first sign of danger; which happened to be everywhere. The only time she seemed to relax was at home, on the lap of a male, or when running through a large empty field of grass out in the suburbs.

I felt similar to how the dog felt the first day I met her. My life seemed to be in upheaval as well: I was going through puberty, my home had been ruined by a massive fire, I was living in a new place with a new father figure dating my mother, and I was dealing with the loss of the conventional idea of family as I had known it; my parents being recently divorced.

We’d never had a dog until that point. I remember hearing about Mom getting Sophie for Step-dad, Jim’s birthday and feeling a deep seeded need to be loyal to cats. CATS ARE BETTER! My mind would guiltily cry whenever I found myself petting Sophie and marveling at her ability to fit so comfortably in my lap. I had grown up with two different cats by that point… one nasty asshole cat named Ripper who loved to scratch tiny hands and bite small fingers reaching out to caress a tail. Ripper gained his name from the brutal way he dealt with the rodent problem in the building I spent the first 11 years of life in. Nermal, our second cat, was a calico-loner. A cat so totally uninterested in what was going on that the only time I felt a sense that she cared was when she was hungry. Otherwise, to pet Nermal was to catch her at a moment of rest and then tentatively stroke her back only long enough for her to tolerate before she’d swipe at the hand with her declawed paw.

Sophie the dog was a treat compared to the cats! She allowed us to pet her, pick her up, and nap with her. When young, she loved to play with the cat, allowing Nermal to torture her with hits to the face and a flicking tail. At first enemies: the two soon became companions, both rubbing their traits off on to each other until Sophie walked (and jumped) like a cat; and Nermal learned to beg for food like a dog, meowling with fervor whenever a delicious piece of steak was being devoured by the family at dinner.

Sophie was stubborn, refusing to come when called unless the call held a promise of food. She LOVED food (any flavor or ilk), getting into some serious trouble whenever my sister or I would accidentally leave candy lying around, leaving Jim to moan “Who left the m&m’s on the table!? Sophie just ate half a bag! She’ll have diarrhea for a week, girls!” And my favorite: “Oh my GOD. Sophie got into Nermal’s litter. GROSS. She must have eaten a dozen turds!”

Near the end of her life Sophie mellowed out, allowing herself to get picked up more, and relaxing a bit whenever in new environmentsĀ and not being so anxious all the time. She was a great travel companion and a wonderful sleeping buddy. Although her breath got so bad it smelled like someone farted in the room, she was a great friend to have around whenever the apartment was empty.

She’ll be sorely missed, her absence feeling more like a loss of a human family member than any of the voids left by the cats. Her personality was infectious: always running to the door to say hello whenever we got home, and jumping with joy at the sound of a walk outside (until she realized how anxious it made her to be outside!) and being such a quiet, warm little being to tell secrets to. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to such a great friend who lived with us for 14 years, providing my family with much needed love and support through such large changes in our own lives. Her passing is the end of an era.

Rest in Peace, Sophie.

August 14, 2013 at 3:32 am by Natalie Allen