One of my best friends succumbed to the ravages of cancer yesterday. Sophie was our eight-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog who thought she was two years old – until nine days ago when she became lethargic and wouldn’t eat. One of her many nicknames was Chubby, so not eating was a sign there was a major problem. We ran her to the vet and it turned out she had cancer. She declined rapidly and yesterday her liver shut down and she was done.
Sophie was a constant joy, my wife Robin always said Sophie was exuberant. Going from one side of the room to the other meant bounding, not walking. She always wanted to have a stuffed toy in her mouth. Her first one was a monkey, so after that she responded to any toy as her monkey. When she was trying to lick my face, I’d tell her to get her monkey, she’d run off and find a toy and bring it back and was then ready to lick again.
Anytime I needed a smile, all I had to do was say “Hey Sophie” and 80 pounds of dog would bounce over and the Sophie circus act would begin. She loved to sit on my foot and lean against me waiting to be petting, it is a Bernese Mountain Dog trait, but she took it to the next level. Sophie was always a puppy, she got bigger but always had an incredible innocence and love for life.
Sophie lived up to her Swiss heritage and loved the snow. She would run out in it, bounce around, eat it and plop in the deepest show she could find. In the summer it would be hard to get her out of the house, but she was in her glory in the winter. It was hard to get her to come in when the snow was deep.
She loved sitting on the couch with us as we watched TV. She didn’t lay on the couch, she sat. Right between Robin and me. She sat with her back resting on the back of the couch just like us. She’d wave her front paws around and try to get our attention. If we didn’t look at her to her she’d get frustrated and try some boxing. If that didn’t get sufficient attention she’d groan and growl until we looked at her. Most times she’d then look away and peek at us out of the corner of her eye. I’d blow on her when she was looking at Robin and she’d moan with frustration because I looked away before she spun around to look me. The game would last for a while until she would pounce on one of us demanding to be petted. But if a dog was on the TV, the game was paused while she watched and made little whines. One day she hopped off the couch and ran over to look behind the TV for the dog and looked puzzled when she couldn’t find it. After the dogs were off the screen, it was back to our peek a boo game.
Most mornings while I was in the shower Sophie and our other Berner Zian would be downstairs waiting for dogs to walk past the house. Sophie would start a high pitched howl and Zian would join in. Their longest song I recorded was 90 seconds, but they frequently sang longer than that.
It is going to be a quiet house now and we will miss her for a long time. We may someday get another dog but Sophie will never be replaced.