Our German Short Haired Pointer (known as a GSP), Sophie, was a wonderful dog. She always had her nose to the ground when she was let out of the kennel each day to play and exercise. She chased everything, anything really. From butterflies, rabbits and snakes, to birds and, yes, even turtles. She really didn’t chase the turtles, just a lot of barking at them as they slowly walked along our fence line. It was though she was insisting that they feel free to come on her side of the fence, so she could see what they taste like!
She was true to her breed, always on the hunt, extremely active. She would chase and catch Grackles in mid flight trying to get away from her. Sighting rabbits along that same fence line was also fun for her in hopes that they would zig instead of zag and come flying back through the fence as she waited. While she was on the hunt, her brother Bruno enjoyed chasing a thrown ball and lounging under the shade of one of many Crape Myrtles on the property. In truth, he spent more time in the shade expecting our petting and getting his ears scratched.
We purchased Sophie and Bruno almost eight years ago as 8-10 week old puppies. It was a challenge to get trained as early as possible, not as hunting dogs, but as part of the family. We got them in November and that first year we had snow on the ground during Christmas. It was more than hilarious to watch them consider stepping out on the blanket of snow for the first time. Eventually we moved them to the back yard and built a kennel with a nice run area, and a house that I could almost stand straight up in (I’m 6′ 8″ tall).
As they grew older, Sophie was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma. We found a tumor on her gums and treated it the best we could. Our vet told us that the cancer was very aggressive and that she may have only six months to live, longer if we chose the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Almost two years later, the cancer invaded her internal organs and she lasted about two weeks. I buried her this morning.
With tears in my eyes, I prepared the grave. Bruno looked as though he knew something was not quite right. I had placed a blanket she had been laying on out by the grave. Bruno walked out to me, carrying his little ball as usual, sniffed the blanket and proceeded to lay down on it as though he already missed her and the blanket was a place he could rest for a minute, while remembering her.
Later, when I brought Sophie to the grave I’d make final preparations. Finished, I turned back toward Sophie and noticed Bruno lying next to her with his head lying on her wrapped body. He looked at me with those big sad eyes. It was then I realized that he really did know she was gone.
With my job was complete, he and I quietly walked back up to the house. With tears dripping from my chin, I stopped and took a deep breath kneeling down to comfort Bruno. To my surprise, he started licking my face as though this was his way to comfort me. This came as a total shock, as Bruno has never given me a kiss or even a lick on my face. I’ll be spending a lot of time with Bruno so he won’t feel left alone, but it will be Bruno that will provide a sense of comfort for my wife and me. He is whimpering as I write this article, as he has lost a family member and friend too.
I was raised on a ranch as a child, and when it came to end the suffering of one of the animals, I was taught to buck up and deal with the loss of that animal. As I grew older, I have a different kind of connection with my pets and feel a much greater loss when they pass on.
Sophie was a challenge and a joy all at the same time. She liked being on the other side of our fence more than she needed to stay in our yard, for her own safety. She had this great sense of adventure. There were several times I had to chase her down, on foot, into the next town. With her nose to the ground, chasing anything that was near, I’m reminded of her focus. Her sense of focus was intense, and it teaches me that if I focused on issues as confidently as she did, my life may be a little different in ways I could only imagine.
Sophie was a family member and she provided us with a wonderful experience throughout her life. I hope you have had experiences like this with your pets. She will be missed