Some say I rescued my beautiful Sophie, however she was the one that did the rescuing. When she came into my life she brought such a joy and love, deeper than I had ever known. Sophie girl showed me what 'true' love is all about.
At the ripe old age of 6 months I saw exactly how special she really was. As we walked along the beach, my young pup raced towards the shoreline and promptly pulled a toddler out of the water. The child had wandered away from his parents and fallen face down in the shallow waters. Sophie took it upon herself to rescue the young boy and bring him safely to shore. Just the start of her magical ways. She is, after all, a Newfoundland. She had all the instincts and innate abilities inherent to the breed. But she took it one step further.
Everywhere we went Sophie drew a crowd and developed a fan club. She was the mascot for the Mass Mutiny Women's Football team and was on the sidelines with me at every practice and game for 8 years. She kept order, particularly when girls were slacking during wind sprints. Sophie was sure to give chase to get them moving. She was adored by the players, it was hard not to take notice of the regal all black bundle of fur on the sidelines wearing her Mutiny jersey.
We traveled everywhere together. New York to visit her cousins in Buffalo and New Hampshire to climb the mountains or swim in the lakes. To Florida to visit her two favorite people in the world, my niece Hailey and nephew Tyler. She loved them most of all, that is beside me. She loved to swim with them, giving them rides with her tail. She was always on duty though, never wanting the children to swim out too deep or splash too much. We did, after all, refer to her as the 'fun police.'
Sophie had to keep peace and calm at all time. If the kids or other dogs got too rambunctious, a loud bark and quick intervention would happen on Soph's part. She was always in charge, but let you think otherwise. She loved to hike and swim, but always kept her pack in front of her at all times to make sure of their safety and where-abouts. No matter how often I would try to get her to take the lead, she had to be the last in line to keep an eye on matters.
Enter her sister Ella. When Sophie (aka Jib or Jibby or Jibster) was 6 years old, I thought she might need a sister. It became evidently clear that this pup was Sophie's and she was going to raise her. That is until she realized her sister was a spice monster and was constantly in trouble! I remember a late summer evening when Soph woke me up with a very loud, diligent bark. I knew she meant business and followed her out to the deck. Mind you, it was 4 in the morning. Sophie took me to the corner of the deck, promptly sat on my feet and looked up into my eyes as if to say, "Wait til you see this." Then, stumbling towards us with her nose stuck in a pickle jar was her young sister Ella. Thank God, Soph woke me up, because Ella wasn't gonna last very much longer. Silly Ella… Soph and I got many a laughs from that one. Although at times I know she exhausted Sophie, Ella and Sophie had a deep loving bond. Ella cherished Sophie, she would nibble on Soph's ears as soon as she learned that Sophie loved that. The two were inseparable. The would come with me everywhere...work, play... it didn't matter. My girls were my life and Soph was teaching Ella the ropes.
Our lessons were long, me and Soph... Although she battled two really bad knees which both required surgery, we adapted. Everyone told me not to expect much from her. They just didn't know Soph. She did everything. She passed her canine good citizen test at the age of 9 months and was a certified therapy dog by the age of 2. She received her Water Dog title at the age of 4. The joy she would bring the young autistic children that she visited was amazing. They would often use her in the school lessons. I remember one time we came during math class and the children had to measure Soph's nose and tail and then compare the two. Soph was just happy to help.
She touched all of the patient's in my office that she met. She would often come right into the treatment rooms, lay at the patient's head and 'demand' some serious patting or she'd give the patient a quick swipe of her big paw to gather their attention. It was hard to dismiss Sophie. So many children would come in and Sophie was the first to greet them, put them at ease. She was special; the depth of her love is immeasurable.
But most of all... Sophie loved her lighthouse. We stumbled upon it shortly after moving to Gloucester, MA in 2001. The Annisquam Light, one of the most beautiful and tranquil places on the planet. Soph and I would go there to swim, rest, contemplate and simply connect. It was and will always be our most sacred of places.
I remember the day I broke the news to Sophie (aka SoSoMa) that Ella was pregnant. She looked as me as if to say, "You have got to be kidding, right?" Ha... I knew right away that although she was getting older, now 9 years old, she would be a great Mom. Ella was just the vessel; I knew this was the chance for Sophie to raise the family she never had. And that she did. She stayed by those babies from the minute they were born. Even when Ella would leave the area, Soph was right there to keep the kids warm, alert me to any problems or just to be the Mom she deserved to be.
She loved them all, but two of them... the littlest, were her favorites. The little girl we called Ruby and the little white and black boy we called Lance. She always made sure they were safe and warm, cuddled them and allowed only those two to chew on her feet. She HATED having her feet touched, but for some reason these two had full reign with Sophie. She had something special with them and I believe she shared some of her wisdom with them. Ultimately, as time passed, that special litte girl would go to a wonderful family in Maine with her brother Bear. Her name... Annisquam Light's Sophie's Choice. They still call her Ruby. And the young white and black boy...well he was our keeper. Sophie just loved this little guy although I was adamant about not wanting a white and black. Soph got her way and Annisquam Light's Perfect Gentleman got to stay with us. We call him Teddie James.
There have been times when I would swear Soph was communicating with him. He has her mannerisms, her movement, her temperament. THANK GOD! Two days before Sophie moved on I took a wonderful picture of her with Teddie James. He was looking at her so intently as they sat at the beach, as if to tell her he was ready to take over, that she has taught him well.
She will always be my most cherished friend. I will love her forever and she will live in my heart. She is now and forever the greatest gift I have ever received. I could not have been more blessed to have her in my life and am so very grateful to have had her for 10 years. It is hard for me to believe that it has been as long as it has, because everyday was new and joyful with her.
So with that said... soar my beautiful girl. Go to your castle, run, and play. Swim with the dolphins and let your spirit fly. For we will meet again soon, I just know it.