Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sophie the Beagle, 2007-2013

We had to put down our beagle today.

Sophie was suffering from what might have been canine spinal calcification.  If we had done spinal surgery, which we would never have spent the money on, there was only a chance she would get better.  The vet thought she could end up paralyzed and likely be incontinent for the rest of her life.  They agreed to put her down this evening, the day before Thanksgiving.

Sophie in 2007
We got Sophie as tiny pup from Bart Hinz's in-laws in the summer of 2007.  Brennan, our oldest, wasn't quite seven years old yet and our fourth, Graham, was only one.  I named her Sophie, from the Greek for wisdom, and five-year-old Tanner gave her the middle name Rose.  From the very beginning she was the breed standard, absolutely perfect in form and appearance.  She was a beautiful animal.

She was also a nutcase.  Sophie proved to always be hyper-anxious.  House guests drove her berserk with excitement, mere eye contact meant she might wet herself.  Her two favorite people in the world, for whom she could never control her blubbering enthusiasm, were my dad and Mike Boczek.  Though she was never allowed on the furniture, it was all we could do to keep her from climbing up in their laps and beyond.  She couldn't get enough of Dad and Mike.

Sophie with Eli, c. 2008
She was also ridiculously submissive, to a fault… to the point of when you called for her, she might lie down and whimper as soon as come running.  Smaller, younger dogs like Maury and Angus would regularly kowtow her, though in the weeks before her death we saw a few signs of her pushing Angus around.

Sophie, for all her qualities was as dumb as a box of rocks.  She had just enough brain power to smell and bark and held nothing in reserve.  She amused us constantly with her inability to perceive basic things that most dogs would figure out in a moment.  I often called her "dum-dum" as a term of endearment and affectionately said she was dimwitted.  But no matter how dense, she was always just as sweet and loyal as a dog could be.

Sophie with Tanner.
Sophie went to church camp with our family a few times.  Inevitably she would get away from my kids and end up walking down the aisle mid-sermon.  She was popular with the campers, though not well-suited to life at camp.  We were a young family and didn't have any other option than to bring her with us.

In her final weeks, we noticed her moving gingerly and there were several signs she was in pain.  As the pain increased we took her to the vet and found our options were limited.  As much as we loved her, we were not going to spend the children's Christmas money on surgeries and procedures that might not improve her quality of life.

The vet agreed that she was in terrible pain.  Whatever caused the degeneration in her back, it was probably only going to worsen with time.  The pain medicine we were giving her barely made a difference.  I've read that beagles can get degenerative disks as young as two years old.  That hardly seems fair; a beagle ought to live 10-15 years.  She could have been injured at some point, but most of her days involved laying around with the kids and basking in the yard, so it's hard to imagine how.

Sophie with Brennan, as much as anyone, she was his dog.
In the end, we thank God for the six and half years we had with this silly dog.  It breaks my heart that she passed as young as she did and I'm devastated that my kids have to endure this.

But before you ask… No.  We don't want another dog.

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