The story of Sophie’s adoption from our local humane society was posted on September 03, 2018. Since that time, a lot had transpired, mainly the loss of her best dog buddies, Brett and Skyler, who passed away this summer due to illnesses. This sequel tells the story of Sophie who loved and grieved and how her responses were both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
It is about her inborn nature to feel compassion as well as her resilience to overcome adversity. For a person who had never owned a cat before, I find those actions worthy of attention.
They had almost two beautiful years of friendship together. I never imagined when I adopted Sophie from our local humane society that she would become attached to both of our family’s 14-year-old shelties. She struck up a friendship that lasted until the very end of our dogs’ lives in the summer of 2019.
A year after Sophie’s adoption in September 2017, Brett suffered from congenital heart failure due to complications from having an enlarged heart. His veterinarian put him on several medications to relieve him of the many acute symptoms.
Still, the reality was that he was living on borrowed time and was given six months to a year before his heart could no longer hold on. Sophie seemed to understand that Brett was not feeling well, and so and she hung around him more often than before.
Even when he stood up to get a drink of water, Sophie was right there next to him, doing the same thing. Occasionally I would see her gently tapping his back paws to play with her. As the months passed, Brett grew too weary of responding to her tappings and would remain asleep behind the living room curtain.
Nine months later, Brett passed away at the pet hospital, and so he wasn’t with me when I returned home. Sophie immediately knew that something was wrong. She checked his usual place behind the curtain and then went looking for him in every room of the house, but he wasn’t anywhere.
From that night, she slept in Brett’s favorite spot behind the curtain. I watched her nudge the bottom of it and crawl under until only the tips of her nose and front paws were visible. She missed him immensely.
About a month later, our other sheltie, Skyler, had lost interest in eating and began displaying other health complications. He was diagnosed with liver cancer and put on medications. During that time, Sophie must have known that her other buddy Skyler wasn’t feeling well.
Whenever he laid down to rest his weary body, she was right there near him, watching him sleep. There were times when she playfully tapped his face with her paw, hoping to get a response from him, but all Skyler did was turn the other way and go back to sleep. Sophie had just lost her favorite buddy Brett, and what she seemed to want was to let Skyler know that he was her favorite buddy now.
Skyler continued to worsen over the next month, and it was sheer agony to watch him become emaciated and weak. At that point, we knew it was time to say goodbye instead of allowing him to suffer any longer. And so in August, we decided to let him go.
Even though Sophie seemed fine, I knew she missed Skyler because she started sleeping on his bed at night. And every night after that. Occasionally she would alternate between sleeping in Brett’s place behind the curtain and then on Skyler’s bed. This behavior continued for several weeks.
One early evening, Sophie was eating her dinner when suddenly, from a distance, she heard one of our neighbor’s dogs give out two playful barks. She immediately stopped eating and perked up. I watched Sophie walk cautiously to the foot of the staircase, swishing her tail in anticipation of something. Was she hoping to see her best buddies come running down like they had in the past? She sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. But they never came.
“Sophie,” I whispered. “Brett and Skyler are not upstairs. Your buddies aren’t here anymore. They’re in heaven.”
She sat there for a while, and when she felt ready, she walked away and laid down in the living room corner where both dogs used to nap.
“If only you could talk,” I said to Sophie as I stroked her head. “We all miss the boys too. The house feels empty without them around, huh?”
I remembered the times when Sophie didn’t like being alone outside for long and would meow for her buddies to join her. As old and tired as they were, they were still willing to go out to be with her. It was the same with the inside of our home.
Wherever the dogs were in the house, there I would find Sophie nearby. They were just like three-peas-in-a-pod.
It is now December, and it has been four months since our last sheltie passed away. Over time, Sophie adjusted to the changes. She no longer sleeps in Brett’s corner under the curtain or on Skyler’s bed. Nowadays, she’ll sleep wherever she chooses to lay her head.
Because I’m retired, Sophie now hangs out with me wherever I am in the house or the yard. It doesn’t seem to matter to her if the company she keeps is two- or four-legged. I believe that if Sophie has chosen to hang out with a new buddy, then it must be a sign that her heart is healed. And that’s a reassuring sign that she’s okay now.