This tiny little being came into our lives January 2006. She started out as Keith's dog as he was looking for a furry companion. Sophie immediately stole the heart of all she met - especially me. Keith and I hadn't been dating terribly long and we were on & off in the early days but if he was traveling or working late, I got to take care of Sophie. A few years later, he started traveling to Fort Worth regularly for work and Sophie did not care for his apartment so she started staying with me more regularly.
Sophie was a spunky girl who didn't care for most people but loved her family, especially her daddy. So many times I would mention "daddy" and her ears would perk up and she would tilt her head to one side. When he would return from out of town, she would go nuts and greet him with the best slobber kisses ever. And I was no slouch in her eyes either. Sophie loved her mommy so much and I might have been her favorite cuddle buddy. She and I developed a routine in our new home. When I was home from work and done exercising or just piddling around the house, I would sit in our red chair and she would join me. She always wanted to be on my lap, under a blanket. It was best I didn't move as to avoid disturbing the Princess. On weekends, Keith would often ask if he was "chopped liver" as the dogs would join me on the chair as soon as I sat there. I loved it. This is something I am going to miss terribly. I half-joked with Keith that we might need to get rid of the chair as I just don't know I'll enjoy it as much without our sweet girl.
Sophie was relatively young when she became ill. First she had an issue with her eye that never really improved but thankfully, never worsened. Not long after that, Sophie got really sick. We thought she had just been enjoying one too many good meals and was putting on weight when in reality, fluids were building up in her abdomen and under her skin. We felt like horrible dog parents. How could we mistake this for weight gain? When we had taken Sophie in for extreme lethargy and lack of appetite, we were referred to the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M. Sophie was soon diagnosed with lymphangieasia and Protein-Losing Enteropathy. In short, Sophie was losing proteins through her intestines and had other digestive related issues. While there is no cure for this, it can be managed with a strict, low fat diet and meds. A lot of meds. Finding the right combination of meds took time but soon, Sophie was returning to normal - a new normal. Over the years, she would have relapses for various reasons. We would go to A&M and they would tinker with her meds, often times adding a new one. Towards the end, she was on more than 9 meds, many of which I couldn't pronounce correctly. She would be put on a new med usually after a current med started causing issues. For example, one of the meds caused her blood to clot. Another one damaged her liver and over time, would destroy it. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. She had a pulmonary embolism at one point. Honestly, I've lost track of everything she had. Her file at A&M was so large, they had to start a new one. We often joked that the renovations they've been doing there have been funded by Sophie's visits. We were visiting College Station every 4-6 weeks.
The past several months, Sophie has lived a good life. No, she's lived a great life. There were days she played like she did when she was much younger. She wasn't retaining fluids and maintained her girlish figure. Her "treats" were carrots and she loved them, but that didn't stop her from begging at every.single.meal. Sophie loved her cuddles, belly rubs and cuddles with mom & dad. She had a best friend/sister in our Yorkie, Leia. They behaved like typical sisters - Sophie, the older sister, tolerated Leia. And Leia worshiped Sophie. When Sophie didn't feel well, Leia was never far away. She would sniff her and lick her and annoy the crap out of her. It was so sweet to watch. The past few weeks though, Sophie wasn't quite herself. Looking back now, we can see it was a gradual decline - so gradual I think we missed some signs. Last week Sophie seemed lazier than usual. She was sleeping a lot. Like a lot, a lot. We joked that she was definitely her daddy's dog. Sophie was losing her balance here & there, usually when she got really excited. She would spread her paws out and then fall over. It scared the crap out of us. She would try to jump on the chair but would kind of stumble and have to try again. Then I noticed she was not putting her hind right paw down. I checked it and moved it but she didn't squeal or anything. By Sunday, she was definitely not herself at all. She wasn't eating much and didn't come running for things she typically would. I told Keith that if she wasn't better by Wednesday, I'd take her in.
Monday morning I went to the dentist and when I got home, something just wasn't right. She hadn't eaten and wouldn't go outside to potty. I had to carry her out and put her on the grass. She could walk and did walk when she was out there. I called the vet and took her in. They did bloodwork and her protein levels were very, very low. Dang it. She was clearly having a relapse. She was also very dehydrated. They kept her overnight, giving her fluids and steroids. They called me the next day though as Sophie was far more alert, feisty AND wanting her food. Whew, crisis averted. Stick to her meds and get her protein back in line. We're good. I drove through Starbucks with her and she was flirting with the cashier (trying to get a puppy latte). We went home and she ate nearly all her food and then cuddled with me. All was right in our world. We went to bed and in the middle of the night Sophie had horrible diarrhea. I cleaned everything up and we went back to bed. I chalked it up to her only having fluids the day before and not being 100%.
I debated going to work on Wednesday but had meetings and had already worked from home Monday so felt I should go in. I will regret this decision for a long time. I put Leia in her crate when I left as Sophie hadn't eaten much breakfast and I didn't want our little piggy to eat all of Sophie's food. I also didn't want her getting into any messes Sophie might create if her tummy was still upset. I left work a little early and was home by 4:45pm. As soon as I opened the door, I knew something wasn't right. When the garage door opens and the alarm is turned off, Sophie ALWAYS is at the back door to greet us. Always. I called for Sophie but nothing. I ran around the house like a lunatic but couldn't find her. I went into our bedroom and on the other side of the bed, Sophie was collapsing over and over. Every time she tried to stand, she collapsed. Her hind legs were not functioning. I grabbed her, let Leia out of the crate and went outside with the phone and called the vet. I was frantic. Sophie wasn't very alert and was clearly scared. The vet said to come in right away but told me they may have to send us to an ER given the time of day and depending on what it could be. They did share with me that it could be a ruptured disc or a blood clot. I got to the vet and they told me that whatever was going on, it wasn't good. Sophie not only had no use of her hind legs, she couldn't feel anything. I watched them poke and pinch her with a hemostat and she didn't flinch. This was serious and I needed to get her to A&M ASAP. I drove there and contacted a few folks to let them know what was happening. I was a wreck.
A&M ultimately determined Sophie had a blood clot that was restricting/blocking blood flow to her hind legs. They also let me know that it could be treated medically (we're talking viles of meds that were $400 each) vs surgically and that Sophie would have a 50:50 prognosis. They just needed to talk to Internal Medicine to make sure they were ok with the treatment plan - basically needed to make sure that all the meds she was on would work together. Sadly, Internal Med didn't sign off and Sophie's prognosis was no longer 50:50. All they said was, "her prognosis is much lower". Could the clot break up on it's own? Yes. Could they give us something else to help? Yes but at this point, blood flow had been restricted for at least 7 hours and possibly 14 hours. That meant damage to her legs would be permanent and she would not walk again. They didn't even know if she could eliminate on her own. At 2am, Sophie & I left A&M (me in tears). She was sedated and I was exhausted. Keith was in San Francisco and I called him and we cried. I pulled over at one point because I thought she wasn't breathing. We knew the time had come and just hoped Sophie would make it until Keith could get home. I told Keith he had to be the one to call our vet to schedule the appointment because I could not do it. No. Hell no.
I stayed home from work on Thursday and laid in bed with Sophie most of the day. And I cried. I cried more than I thought humanly possible. I did not know it was possible to produce that amount of snot and tears. I second guessed our decision non-stop. I gave her steroids and her blood thinning meds because I thought maybe, just maybe, she would surprise us all and get up and walk. Grasping. At. Straws. Keith got home at 1am and we cried. This morning, I woke up and within about 45 seconds, I was crying. I told Keith I needed him to call the vet and make sure they would tell us if we were making a mistake by putting a potentially healthy dog down. Yes, I was still in denial. Keith is a saint and made the call and had the conversation. Sophie would have no quality of life. We were making the right decision for Sophie. That's when Keith lost it and when I finally found some peace in our decision.
Sophie had an amazing day today. She cuddled with mommy most of the morning. Her cousin, Avery, called to say goodbye. She had bacon for breakfast and then napped with dad. We basked in the sun and then she watched mommy get ready - something she did every morning. Yes, I finally decided to bathe today as I didn't want her to have the smelly mom at the clinic. Daddy then grilled her a delicious filet for lunch. She knew she was in heaven. Then she went on her very first Ferrari ride. We cuddled some more and then left for Starbucks to get her a puppy latte. We spoiled her and gave her all the things she always wanted but never could have because of her restrictive diet. We documented the day and created a shared album that we shared with the girls. Everyone got to share in the love we showed her today.
Sophie passed peacefully in my arms with her daddy and sister next to her. Surprisingly, I held it together until the vet said, "she's gone".
While she was only 7lbs, she is leaving a major hole in our lives. She was an amazing buddy to both of us. She made us laugh all the time. She was so smart. And sneaky. She loved us unconditionally and we loved her back. The house is too quiet without her. I am going to miss her "yelling" at me every morning to feed her. I'm going to miss her sitting on the rug in our bathroom every morning as I got ready. I'm going to miss falling asleep with her on the chair. I'm going to miss her getting excited when we asked her if she wanted a "treat" or go for a ride. I probably won't miss her horrid farts. Lol. I know it will take time, but soon, we'll be able to talk about all the fun times and smile.
Rest in peace, Sophie. We will love you forever!
12/10/05 - 1/29/16