How We Got Sophie

My beloved Maggie took her trip over the rainbow bridge Thursday, June 9, 2016. We consulted with her vet, Dr. Laurin Sanderlin, a wonderfully compassionate, Christian woman, for about 45 minutes. While Maggie was on the exam table. She couldn’t sit up becuase of the terrible pain in her back joints. She laid down but was clearly in pain. She couldn’t get comfortable. 

Dr. Sanderlin and Joyce left the decision of life or death up to me. Maggie was 11 1/2 years old. That’s 77 in dog years. She had had severe pain for several months in her hips and also had Cushing’s Disease which caused incessant thirst and hunger. The X-rays revealed that her hips were bone on bone. Maggie had never had a bad day in her life. She was always happy., loved, and cared for like the queen she was. Selfishly, I wanted to keep her a little longer. I felt helpless as I looked at her loving me back with those eyes now looking pained as if to say, “Help me. You’ve got to help me”. But, there was nothing I could do, nothing further Dr. Sanderlin could do, and nothing my wife could do. I had to release her. It was a hard decision, but I had to push my emotional love for her aside and let reason prevail. I had to do what was right for Maggie. I loved her enough to do that. 

Tears welled up in our eyes as the doctor injected Maggie with the drug that would put her to sleep. It didn’t take long. Joyce and I bent over and gave her a kiss. I stroked her and lovingly told her, “I love you. I’m right here. I’ll see you in the other side. You’re going to be free from pain and can bark, run, and jump through the Elysian Fields. When I get there, I’ll throw the ball for you, and you can fetch it. You can herd me as we take our walk through the grass. We will have good times again. 

She looked at peace lying there on the table sleeping. Then it was time to inject the kill drug. Her breathing slowed and came to a stop. She was gone. That quick! Dr. Sanderlin handed me a box of tissues. I wiped my eyes. Joyce took a tissue and wiped her eyes too. I tried to force myself not to lose control. 

After she crossed the bridge, Dr. Sanderlin said that I made the right decision. Her words were assuring and comforting. 

Maggie was my constant companion, counselor, lifted me when I was depressed, understood me, loved to swim in the pool with us, slept with us , loved to go on trips with us, enjoyed handouts from our table, and played catch with me before it became too painful for her to run. She was my true and loyal friend and enriched my life abundantly. I even taught her to howl! She always greeted me at the door with the Sheltie circle of love and welcome home bark. 

It was eerily quiet that morning when we came home without Maggie. I couldnt stand it. 

She was a blessing from the Lord. I received consolation from John Wesley’s marvelous sermon, “The Redemption of Animals.” I have comfort knowing she is running and playing over there without pain and waiting to welcome me again with her Sheltie circle of love and welcoming barks when I join her we’re together again. https://conversationinfaith.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/god-and-dog-and-john-wesley/

I moped around that Friday as my wife prepared for our five week trip to Wyomimg and Montana. We were to leave Saturday with a stopover in Chicago to visit my daughter, Kelly, amd son-in-law, Scott. They had agreed to keep Tipper, our Sheltie rescue. Tipper is 10 or 11 years old and was saved from a horrid puppy mill where he was used as a stud. He lacks socialization skills, and he has never really bonded with us. Our joy and satisfaction is knowing he has a better life. He is a sweet dog. 

Yet, the back seat seemed empty withou Maggie. At every stop, she would wake up, look out the window, amd bark. She sometimes helped me drive by propping up on the console between the two front seats. Our little family of four was missing a member, and it didn’t seem right. 

After our trip to the West, we stopped by Kelly and Scott’s to visit for a few days and pick up Tipper. He had done well. Kelly and Scott also have two Papillons, and they all had a good time.  

One morning at their house, I sat on the patio with my first cup of coffee and grieved over not having Maggie right there under me or chasing the squirrels in their back yard which always brought a smile to my face. 

I couldn’t stand the thought of not having her in the back seat for our 13 hour trip home. She always made the long trip enjoyable. When we rolled into a small town, she would rouse up and bark causing the people on the sidewalk to sop and smile. That was Maggie. Bringing mles of smiles to everyone who met her. 

I couldn’t bear coming home to an empty house where she always greeted us with ‘welcome home’ barks and her Sheltie circle of love. 

“I need a puppy!” I said to myself!  “That’s it!  A little Sheltie furball.  There must be one out there somewhere. 

By this time, Kelly and my wife, Joyce, joined me on the patio. I told them of my desire for a puppy. Kelly thought it was a great ida. Joyce?  Not to sure. “You know who will have to feed, water, clean up poo,and pee? Me!”

“No,” I replied emphatically. “I’ll help!”

“Yea, sure you will.”

I got my iPhone our and did a Google search I got a few hits, but no one had puppies, except one lady in a distant state whose bitch had a litter ready to go.  Price? $1200. Her puppies were bred from champions. All I wanted was a pet. “Ugh,” I thought. No way.”

Not to be discouraged, I pulled up my ‘Sheltie Lovers Group of Feorgia’ on Facebook. I didn’t know if they allowed selling and buying in the group, but thought, “What the heck,” I’ll post and ask if anybody has a Sheltie puppy to sell.

Within the hour, I got a reply from Kristie Wiehe from Flowery Branch, Georgia, near Atlanta. Bingo!  

I excitedly told Kelly and Joyce of my good fortune.  “Great! Kelly exclaimed.

“How much?” asked my very practical wife. 

I messaged Kristie back.  $650. “Not bad, I thought.” We had paid $300 for Maggie to an elderly blind lady in rural Hancock County, Georgia, who raised them for extra money. 

“She wants $650,” I excitedly told my wife.

“$650!  That’s too much!  Way too much. I’m not paying $650 for a dog!

“But we paid $300 for Maggie. You know, the price of verything has gone up including Shelties,” I replied in my best salesman voice. 

“No.  $300 is all that I’ll pay.”

I turned to my number one ally.  “Kelly, I have $75 cash in my wallet. I’m only $275 short. Can you loan me $275?”

Joyce folded her arms. Had been through this scenario before when either me or Kelly teamed up to get what we wanted. She knew she was outnumbered again. 

“Sure dad.  I’ll just give it to you.”

“Oh Joyce, just look at this cute puppy.”  I handed her the iPhone. She tried to stifle a smile. But, the right corner of her mouth went up. Then the left corner.  I knew I had her! Or, the puppy had her!

“Oh, all right I guess. You can get her.”

Kelly and I broke into jubilant smiles. “All right!” I exclaimed. 

Kelly added, “I’ll donate $200 to the cause. 

“No,” Joyce replied. “You don’t have to do that. “It’s not a problem. It’s just a lot to pay for a dog.”  

I messaged Kristie back with the good news and told her what day to expect us.  She promised to hold the puppy for us. 

The trip back seemed like it took forever. That’s the way it is when you are full of anticipation. Good old Tipper slept in the back seat not realizing that his life was about to change big time.  

We had stopped to spend the night in a dog friendly hotel near Asheville, North Carolina.  We arrived at Kristie and Brad’s beautiful home about one o’clock in the afternoon. Kristie was very diligent to make sure Tybee’s puppies went to a good home full of love. She kept one, Anna Ruby, her brother got one, and another was sold to a retired couple like us. That couple had overheard Kristie talking about her puppies in a check out line and wanted one. They were overjoyed like us.  

Kristie brought the little of bundle of joy to us. Love at first sight. Joyce paid her, got her AKA registration papers, and we started on our three hour trip east on I-20 back to Appling. Our new member of the family slept the entire trip home cuddled securely in Joyce’s lap. I could hardly drive because I kept glancing over at them. Proud papa for sure. Good old Tipper slept in the back seat. 

We arrived home and and began deciding on a name.  Several I mentioned were nixed. Y Joyce. Then we kind of jointly decided on Sophia which means wisdom. Her mother, Tybee, is very smart, and little Sophia was already showing her smarts.  I added Scarlet becuase she reminded me of Scarlet in “Gone with the Wind.”  Independent, fiery, and full of life.” Plus, like Scarlet, Sophie was from near Atlanta. 

Even though I occasionally now grieve for my Maggie and reflect on what she gave me, Sophie has helped bring me out and into a new day filled with laughter and joy. Sophie doesn’t replace Maggie.  She has her own, unique personality. Shelties like snowflakes are unique and different with each one having their own personality and features. 

Sophie has melted our hearts with her love and kisses. And for us, she is a gift from the grace of God who places our pets with us. I think of the Scripture from James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” 

God created us.  God created them to have a bond of love with us. It’s a relationship made in heaven. 

“Let all things their Creator bless, And worship Him in humbleness, O praise Him! Alleluia! Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, And praise the Spirit, Three in One!” -St. Francis of Assisi 

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