Today I say goodbye to my best friend
June 30, 2012
Tonight I will have to say goodbye to you and give you to a new family. I just wanted to write a little note and tell you how much I love you and how much I will miss you.
I’ll never forget when we first got you 5 years ago. HJ and I had just gotten married and moved to town. She absolutely did not want a dog. But when we were walking into the store that day, we spotted a beat up old pickup truck with a cardboard sign saying, “puppies 4 sale.” Surprisingly, she wanted to stop and see. It was a hot summer day. When we looked into the back of the truck, we saw you and your siblings–all black. They all layed there panting in the heat, but you perked up and put your paws on the truck bed: the first lick you ever gave us. We agreed immediately that we would buy you–for $10 dollars. You were our first child. Later that day we took you down to the river. You skipped along in the tall grass, trying to keep up. You did NOT want to get in the water, you did not want to swim until you were older. As a puppy you got too cold.
Since you were a “rescue” puppy, we quickly realized we needed to take you to the vet. Your ears were infected and you had worms. That turned out to be nothing serious, you are such a healthy dog! As you grew, you easily learned your manners. You know so many tricks, and you were so easy to potty train. You did have a few rebellious moments when you became a teenager, but a little discipline quickly fixed that.
You had such energy as a puppy. I remember that time we went tubing all day down the river and you swam the whole way. That night you were so tired you would not move. Now you tire out much quicker. I’ve noticed that after a strenuous hike you get stiff and have trouble getting up. But don’t worry, I don’t mind picking you up and carrying you outside to go potty when you get stiff. Boy, we have had so many adventures together: hikes in the mountains, hikes to waterfalls, swims in the lakes, hunts in the woods…the list goes on and on. Plus there’s that game of keep-a-way that just you and I play. Do you remember that one time that we were hiking in the winter time and you fell through the ice? I managed to pull you out, although I got soaking wet and cold in the process. Or do you remember that one time you flushed out the bird and I shot it with my 12 gauge? Now you get excited anytime I get my gun out.
Sophie, I love it how you follow me around the house. I love how you lay at my feet and sleep. You spent countless hours at my feet, under my desk, as I typed my thesis for school. When I needed a break from all that studying, you gladly played outside with me. I still think it’s funny how you consider yourself a lap-dog. You often try to get in my lap when I’m sitting down, even though you are 75 pounds!
You’ve slept at the foot of my bed every night for these 5 years. And of course, each night before bed we go through our little bed-time ritual: I pat you on the head and tell you, “This is your bed, sleep like a pup.” Then when HJ and I are in bed and turn the light out the last thing we always say is, “Goodnight Sophie, sleep like a ball of goodness.” Then, each morning when I get up, you get up too.
Sophie, you shed like a mad-dog. Seriously, where does all that hair come from? Although this is my last day with you, I fully expect to find little black hairs here and there for the rest of my life. That’s why we jokingly say that you are omnipresent. For example, one time HJ and I were eating out at a fancy restaurant. During my meal I noticed a coarse black hair on the plate. I knew without a doubt that it was yours. I’m sure I’ll be finding those little black hairs here and there for the rest of my life!
As you know, Sophie, our family went through a huge change 18 months ago, when mom and I brought the baby home from the hospital. To be honest with you, I was unsure how you would handle that. I thought you might have some jealousy now that my affections would be divided. But you adjusted like a champ! Never once have I seen you lose your patience or get aggressive with the baby. You are so gentle with her, almost as if she were your own pup! And I know you would never let anything happen to her. The first couple weeks you would even try to keep the neighbors and friends from getting too close to her. Now you and the baby have such a special friendship. She loves to pet you and climb on you. And you love the extra attention. Do you remember that the first time the baby ever giggled was when we were out on that walk. You picked up a huge log and started chewing on it, and the baby started giggling. How special!
Sophie, you have never seen me cry. In fact, I have not cried in over 5 years. But tonight when I say goodbye to you and give you one last hug, I am going to weep like a baby. Thank you so much for being my friend. Thank you for all the lessons you have taught me–I’ve learned many lessons about my faith in God from you, and that friendship can be had without a single word being spoken. You have given me a glimpse of unfailing love. I know you have not understood what has been going on these past few months as the house has emptied and the furniture has sold. At least we as a family have been together, right? Now I am sad to say that we must part. We simply cannot take you to live with us to Germany. Know that we will miss you every day. Know that every time I get done eating a meal and go to put the plate on the floor, I am going to feel sad since you will not be there to lick it up. Every walk I go on you will be missed. Every night I will get a knot in my throat when I go to pat you goodnight.
I know that you will find happiness in your new home. You will be with the neighbors just down the road. They have a black lab who is exactly your same age. You will be great playmates. The family is quiet and loving, just like us. In fact, you seemed very content there the other week when we gave it a trial run.
Sophie, thank you for the privilege of being your master,
you are forever in my heart,