SFS 2012 - Sophia's Story
Sophia was a purebred Saint Bernard. The first estimate on her age was about 8 years old. For a Saint Bernard, that is considered a senior. However, her reports from the shelter were glowing, and we decided to take her. When she arrived at the transport stop, our first thoughts were “what have we done and gotten FFN into?” What came off the transport van was a completely shaved, but still dirty dog, whose right rear leg was about one inch shorter than the other. At that point, we figured we’d have this girl for the rest of her life, because who would want an old, crippled, large dog?
We were told she was found as a stray, and the shelter shaved her because her coat was so matted. Her medical issues were numerous: she was positive for a tick-borne disease, had a UTI, ear infections, skin tags, fatty masses, and two canine teeth that needed extraction. An x-ray revealed that her leg was shorter than the other because of an old break that was never fixed. She never let that leg stop her from playing, going on walks, and just enjoying life to the utmost. Our vet decided that Sophia was probably about five years old, instead of eight. Still mid-age, but not a senior! This girl had every right to be bitter or grumpy, but never once did we see that in her. She may not have been the prettiest dog on the outside, but on the inside, she was the most beautiful we’d ever met. Our hope was that someone else would see the same in her.
From the moment we brought Sophia home, she won our hearts. She simply had no faults. Her personality was perfect- she was gentle, loving, silly, patient, and totally forgiving, despite the rough start to life she’d obviously had. She absolutely adored everyone she met- from my one-year-old niece to each and every adult she met. She loved being brushed and just soaked up attention in any way, shape, or form. She bonded quickly to my then 11-year-old daughter, in whose bedroom she slept, and followed her everywhere. We took Sophia on daily walks, including some in the fields, orchards, and woods surrounding our land- which she adored, especially when we were able to let her off-leash in certain areas (she had absolutely no problem with staying by our sides at all times!)
Not really believing anything would come out of it, we posted her on the website. To our amazement, just four days later, her soon-to-be-mom applied to adopt her. She was a young, single woman who lived about an hour from us. She met Sophia and loved her; we knew that Sophia would be just fine with her. Her mom waited patiently for a few weeks while FFN got the last of Sophia’s health issues resolved, and then, on October 31th 2008, she began her life in her forever home.
Sophia’s mom kept in contact with us through the years and even brought her to visit us again. The bond between them was apparent and we were thrilled that they had found each other. In Sophia’s mom’s own words, “we both needed someone and it was a miracle we found each other.” They truly adored each other and were each other’s world. They did everything together; her mom said she planned her day not around Sophia, but with her. During Sophia’s first winter, it became obvious how much she loved the snow. She would roll in it and then just lay there, perfectly peaceful, watching everything going on around her. In the summer, they would go to the beach together every weekend, where Sophia loved to run on the beach and play in the water. They went to local parks and malls, where people always stopped to comment on Sophia’s beauty- and she was beautiful now, not just on the inside, but the outside too. Her coat grew back in, with gorgeous reds, tans, and chestnuts. Sophia’s mom always took this opportunity to share about Sophia’s former life and rescue. She loved going to visit family, and she adored her mom’s two young nephews. They hugged her, kissed her, played with her, and she just soaked up the attention. She was always gentle with her two feline siblings, giving them baths and letting them lick her in return.
In May 2010, Sophia had a tumor removed from above her eye; the results came back that it was an aggressive cancer called hemangiosarcoma. They decided not to pursue treatment because of her age and it would reduce her quality of life. Sophia had the same energy as always during that time and it never stopped her from enjoying her life. They were told Sophia had 2-3 months to live. However, Sophia has never let the odds stop her before, and this was no exception. She exceeded her diagnosis and lived another wonderful 11 months. We have no doubt that it was the bond that she and her mom shared that made her hold on so long. On April 25, 2011, Sophia passed away. She had a fantastic last year, enjoying her time on the beach, with family and friends, and playing in the snow just as she always did. Sophia’s mom said that she was unlike any dog she had ever met; her heart was golden and huge- there was love in it for everyone she ever met. Her beauty drew people to her, but it was her heart that kept them there.
We chose to submit Sophia’s story for Strikes for Strays, because for us, this is what FFN is about. Sophia was an older dog, with many health problems, that many rescues would have passed by saying that there was no point in trying to help her. However, FFN didn’t do that, and instead welcomed her with open arms, giving her all the care she needed. Because of FFN, Sophia had the chance to experience the love of a home and family for two and a half wonderful years. That is what we are all striving to do, each and every day for these animals- change their lives for the better. And for Sophia, that was accomplished. We are thankful that FFN didn’t say no to her, and that we had the blessing of fostering her for two months. Sophia epitomized what we should all strive for- hope, love, and a never-wavering sense of joy.
Sophia's Story was contributed by Sophia's Foster Mom, Tammy Beard