Another corner turned
Six weeks after I had my first baby, we got a dog. A puppy. A little Sheltie puppy, very timid and very sweet, very beautiful. We named her Sophie, which was the name we were going to use had the first baby been a girl. This wasn't even a year after my husband and I got married. For 15 and a half years, this dog has been part of our family.
Needless to say, she saw many, many changes through the years. She accepted each new arrival into the family, both children, as well as a cat, and three new houses, with nonchalant notice. Being a timid dog, she didn't train well, in the traditional sense, as any firm voice would cause her to roll on her back and cower. I was quite distracted through the years with all the children coming, but somehow Sophie managed to learn my language. She came when called. She learned our yard borders, and never ran off. She would "go lay down" when ever I told her to, and she rarely barked. She didn't ask for much, nor did she get much. Benign neglect would be a phrase I would use for the way she fit in our family.
She got lots of affection, being that there were so many people in our home, but only sought it out rarely. She followed me around everywhere, and if I was out of the house for a few days, she wouldn't eat until I got back. No doubt I will never be the recipient of such devotion for the rest of my days.
Over the past few years, her health has been declining. She went deaf. She got cataracts. She began coughing and throwing up frequently. But she didn't seem to be in pain, and she still loved to scrounge the kitchen floor for food, and loved to go outside and explore our land, and chase raccoons, and deer, and possum. For a small dog, she was truly fearless when it came to keeping things out of our yard.
I am guessing you can see where this is going. As my pregnancy has progressed, our Sophie has declined. It became apparent that she was not going to recover any of her faculties, and her decline was speeding up. While I think she could have had a very nice life a bit longer, with proper care and attention, I also know she wouldn't be getting that once the new baby was born. My husband and I knew that a hard decision had to be made about our Sophie, but I just haven't been in the "hard decision" state of mind. I couldn't really think about it, I just made futile wishes that it was resolved. I would pray that she would die in her sleep, and spare us the agony of deciding.
My brave husband made that decision two days ago, and took the hard step to take her in and have her put to sleep. There have been lots of mixed feeling around here, sadness, relief, regret, a lost familiarity. The child I thought would be heart broken was very practical and matter of fact. The one I thought would be matter of fact was heart broken and cried all day. My littlest two girls found some of Sophie's pretty fur on her pillow and put it in a baggie to keep. My eldest daughter just today took her pillows apart to wash, and pass on. Her food dish and water bowl are still in the kitchen, no one ready to dispose of them yet. I haven't gotten to talk to my oldest son yet, the one who was six weeks old when we got Sophie.
So now we get used to the house being a little less full, for a while, until our new baby girl comes home, and new life brings its joy again. We all know that it was a good decision, to have our Sophie put to rest, after a long and faithful life with us. But we miss her. She was a part of us all along.
Good bye, Sophie.