It’s been a year since my family dog, Sophie, passed away. Actually it’s been a year and one month. I’ve been trying to put this post together, but right after she passed it was too hard to go through all the photos. This year I tried to have it ready for the exact date of her one year anniversary of her passing, but to be honest there were so many photographs to go through and I only allowed myself a couple of days, which was not nearly enough time. So over the past month I’ve been going through photos, organizing them and putting together this blog post. I’m going to warn you now, there are still a lot of photos and words, but this blog post is sort of a tribute to the 15 years we had with her, her stories, and everything she gave us.
The story of how we got Sophie was unique, meant to be, and such a God thing. I had wanted a dog as a kid for years, but I was always told no because my mom was allergic and I slowly gave up. My younger sister Kristina, however, was a little more persistent. Also in the summer of 2004 we lost our younger cousin and my parents thought it would be a good distraction and hopefully help with the hurt to get a dog.
Now remember, back in 2004 we were still using AOL and dialup so we weren’t looking for a dog over the internet. Instead, my parents got the newspaper every Sunday after church and Kristina would open up the newspaper and look at the classifieds for dogs with my Grandma. On Sunday, August 22, 2004 Kristina looked at the classifieds on the way home in the van and said, “What’s a Yorkiepoo?” None of us knew, the whole mixing of breeds on purpose and creating the new breed’s name by mixing the two parents breeds’ names was a newer concept. My sister convinced my parents to call the number in the newspaper. My parents called and agreed to go see what a Yorkiepoo puppy was. Thankfully God was watching over us and the breeder was really sweet, she mentioned that maybe we’d like to see pictures of the puppies first and their parents. She emailed us (Cue the waiting for dialup, “You’ve got mail!” and then waiting for the pictures to load.) the following pictures and the 5 of us hopped in the van to go see these adorable puppies. (Remember these pictures are from 2004 so the image quality is terrible. I believe Sophie is the one on the right in the basket.)
Before we went into the breeder’s house to see these Yorkiepoo puppies, I clearly remember standing on the stoop of the lady’s house and my dad making it very clear that we were not getting a puppy today, we were just beginning to look. We had decided we wanted a female, but when I went in the black puppy, which was the only male, came up to me and I was hooked. However, Sophie went right up to my dad and laid in his lap. After what seemed like awhile, but was probably only a little bit, my dad told the breeder we needed to go outside and to talk as a family. My sisters and I looked at each other and knew we weren’t getting a puppy, we hadn’t got our hopes up. But as soon as the door closed and we were on the front stoop again, my dad said, “So I want to get the brown female, the one that came to me, she’s our dog.” My mom, sisters and I were stunned. We talked about the other two, but my parents really wanted a female dog and the other female hadn’t really come to any of us. I’m not going to lie, I was a little hesitant, I knew it would change our life. We were a busy family, I was about to go into my senior year of high school, Maddy into her freshman year and Kristina into 6th grade. Maddy and I were both in marching band, Kristina was into cheerleading and other dance classes. My mom worked as a preschool teacher and my dad worked a lot. But thank goodness the rest of my family overruled me and talked some sense into me.
We went back in, trying to have straight faces so my dad could negotiate. Then the breeder started to back track because she asked about our yard and found out that it was pretty big and not fenced in. For some reason she had it in her head that we were going to leave Sophie out by herself and a hawk was going to come and scoop her up. (Looking back, at least it was clear that the breeder wasn’t a puppy farm and actually cared about her dogs.) After promising she would be thoroughly watched when she was outside the breeder agreed to sell her to us. Again, God was watching over us because we had never bought a puppy before, the breeder asked if we wanted to see her parents. Oh of course, that made sense. Duh! Did you know that the poodle has to be the mother because she’s the bigger breed than the Yorkshire Terrier so she’s able to carry all the puppies. There were more in Sophie’s litter, but they had already been sold.
So we left with the cute little puppy in our arms. As we drove in the van to the pet store to get supplies (It’s poor quality, but you can see the huge cage we got her in the middle and how tiny she was. We hadn’t thought to ask the breeder how big she would get, but we knew somewhere between the size of her mother and father. She still had plenty of room in the cage when she was full grown.) and then to my grandma’s to show off the pup, we realized we needed a name. It all went so fast that we hadn’t even talked about names. So we all sat in the car in silence for a couple minutes and then my mom said, “What about Sophie?” And that was it, she was definitely a Sophie. It’s the quickest thing my family has ever agreed on.
Sophie was a different kind of puppy, I’ve still never met another dog like her. She had an easy going personality, she had energy, but would tucker out and loved being held and snuggled, and somehow she had a sixth sense into our feelings. She chewed a couple of things (The worst was when she chewed a blue pen on our family room carpet right when we were supposed to be leaving for my senior night for marching band. It was my fault, I left the blue pen laying on the floor with my homework.), but the worst part was getting her potty trained and to stop barking at the squirrels and chipmunks outside our big sliding glass door. My mom was a saint and trained her in both of those things. Sophie was very smart and even up to her last days knew how to use us to get what she wanted. I taught her to sit, shake and lay down. I was even able to get her trained to sleep in her crate in two nights. The first night I couldn’t take her crying so I brought her cage into my bedroom (with her baby blanket that the breeder gave us that smelled like her mom). I put her in the crate, laid on the floor with my arm in the crate until she fell asleep and then shut the door. The next night I left the crate in the kitchen and again put my arm in the crate until she fell asleep and then shut the door. And that was it, she was crate trained!
She loved her cage, she started putting herself in her crate at night when she wanted to go to sleep while we were still up and even once she started sleeping in our beds (That wasn’t supposed to ever happen, but she was so snuggly and warm! And she was not allowed in my parents’ bed, she didn’t even really go in my parents’ room unless we were in there.) she would leave the bed once we were asleep and somehow figured out how to get the doors open so she could go sleep in her crate. She also knew when she was in trouble and would punish herself by putting herself in the crate. Sometimes it was hard not to laugh at her when she did that. Like I said, she was smart.
Just because she was an easy going dog, doesn’t mean that she did not love to play. She had this purple ball with a red ball in it that drove her mad. She would rip up grass or whatever plant was nearby. For some reason she needed some sort of plant in her mouth to play with this ball. And she would go crazy, she wouldn’t stop playing with it until we took it from her. We had to tag-team taking it away! If she saw where we put it then she would just sit and look at it.
Another love of her’s was bottles. We would watch to make sure she didn’t swallow any plastic, but she loved to chew the caps off. It was so cute to see how she would use her paws to hold the bottle. If we had water bottles on our night stand, whether it still had water in it or not, she would stare at bottle until we gave it to her.
It’s blurry, but Sophie could actually climb ladders, it was quite impressive.
You knew Sophie was thoroughly enjoying a toy when she would stretch her legs out like a frog.
When little helicopters were all the rage, they were also a hit with Sophie. She would bark non-stop while they were flying and then dive to get them if they landed. We’d have to dive to get to the helicopter before her.
Sophie loved her stuffed toys. There were certain toys that she would play with and only chew to a certain point and then there were toys (usually the cheaper ones) that she would completely destroy and leave stuffing all over the family room floor.
The day my dad put the lower windows in the dining room they became Sophie’s windows. They look right out onto the driveway so she could watch the front of the house with these windows and the back of the house with the sliding glass door. It was alway so sweet to come home and see her little head in the window waiting for you to come inside.
One of Sophie’s great loves was snow. And she was adorable in it! She loved to run through it until her paws were matted with little snow balls. She also loved to stick her face in the snow, for what reason I don’t know, but her snow covered face was adorable.
My sophomore year at Penn State I started renting better cameras than my point and shoot and would bring them home on trips home so I could get pictures of Sophie. The one of her flying over the snow with her ears up on the right is one of my all-time favorite pictures of her!
I think Sophie might have “got” her first frisbee at my high school graduation party. And by “got” I mean stole. We had different things for people to play and I’m pretty sure she claimed the frisbee. Once she got to a frisbee you didn’t want to play with it again because she chewed up the sides so bad that it felt like little daggers when you tried to catch it. It was always fun to try and play frisbee, badminton or another sport with her around because she would chase the frisbee, birdie or ball back and forth and try to claim it if it hit the ground before you got to it. It was an easy way to wear her out.
Sophie and her balls, just about any would do. She especially loved to chase them, but we weren’t so great at teaching her to retrieve them.
Like I said, Sophie loved to snuggle. She was also what you might call a blanket hog.
We would find her in the most random spots if it meant she could lay on a blanket. For example a laundry bin, she snuck into an open closet that a bunch of blankets in it and she even snuck into my suit case to lay on top of the clothes when I was packing to go to Penn State.
We knew our beds had become hers when she started getting on our beds and moving around the pillows and stuffed animals. She loved to lay on our pillow that we laid our heads on. Thankfully she didn’t move the blankets so she wasn’t actually laying on our pillow. Also once she was asleep you could wrap her up like a baby or pose her with stuffed animals.
Sophie loved to be at our level, even if that meant making herself very small so she could lay on a chair.
Especially as she got older, Sophie could fall asleep almost anywhere as long as her people were nearby, like a ping pong table. We used to joke that she got that ability from my dad who can also fall asleep anywhere, although maybe not a ping pong table.
Sophie also loved her own beds. She would look so snugly that I would end up on the floor laying my head on her and the bed.
Clearly Sophie didn’t care where she slept as long as she was snuggled with a blanket, even if meant a heavy binder of homework on top of her. We would wrap her up in a big fluffy blanket and leave and she wouldn’t move.
Unfortunately a lot of Sophie’s early year pictures were either taken with a film camera (Yes, I had a film camera in high school and my first semester of college) or on early digital cameras or phones with very poor image quality. That purple pillow on the left was a Disney Princess blanket my Grandma made for Kristina. Sophie quickly claimed it.
It was fun to find out what qualities Sophie got from her mother, the Poodle, and her father, the Yorkshire Terrier. She had the Yorkshire Terrier’s coloring, but the Poodle’s curl to her hair and floppy ears (I LOVED HER FLOPPY EARS!). She definitely was smart like a Poodle, but she had the tongue of a Yorkie. Apparently Yorkies are known for over time pushing their front teeth out so that the tip of their tongue sticks out most of the time, it’s the cutest.
Because she was part Poodle and Yorkie she was considered hypoallergenic so my mom was ok being around her with her allergies. The only time she would bother my mom’s allergies is when she hadn’t had a bath in 2 weeks and her fur got dirty. Since she was hypoallergenic she didn’t shed and had hair which grew and needed to be cut. For about the first half of her life my dad cut her hair. And I’m sorry Daddy, but sometimes they were not the best haircuts, but after a week they would grow out. I think she got her first “professional” haircut for Kristina’s high school graduation party and then pretty much after that, that was all she got.
I don’t know if it was because we got her during a time when we were hurting or if it was her natural ability, but Sophie was very in tune with our feelings. She knew when we were feeling down and would stay by our side. If we were sick she wouldn’t leave our bed. Even when my parents had “discussions” Sophie would run to another room or try to find us.
Is it a stuffed animal or Sophie?
After I got married and moved out, my mom redid my room and put in a double bed instead of my single bed. Sophie was only allowed on the bed when I was there because my mom normally had a white comforter on the bed. She kept a houndstooth blanket at the end of the bed and Sophie loved to lay on it. In fact, last time I was home I was taking a nap and I used the blanket and it still smelled like Sophie! Ben would make fun of me because I always said if you smelled right behind Sophie’s ears it smelled like Cheetos. And when I was napping/smelling the blanket I could still smell the faint smell of Cheetos 🙂
The last 2 or 3 years of her life Sophie developed a cataract in her left eye. It was kind of sad because she was blind on that side and her eye was a milky white. But her last year it kind of started changing to where the last couple of months it turned black again.
She was also very lady like and would cross her paws when she laid down, even on a teeny tiny pillow. When we worked on the computer she always had to sit behind us on the chair. It would get to the point where she would fall asleep and would take up so much space that you were barely sitting on the chair.
Sophie did not like baths. (It was so funny to see how skinny she was, especially her legs.) However, she did like water. In particular she would go through phases where she loved my dad’s little pond with fish. She would paw at the water and if we didn’t stop her she would fall in. I was never one to stop her because I’d be holding my phone filming her and waiting for her to fall in!
I believe this was at the picnic the day after Kristina’s wedding that she fell in the pond and messed up the rocks around the pond. My mom was never one to openly show too much affection for Sophie, but every once in awhile we would catch it. Especially after all three of us moved out and she was the one to basically take care of Sophie, she would spoil her a little more.
Sophie also liked her baby pools.We would put just a little bit of water and either her frisbee or some leaves and sticks in it and she would paw at them for hours. Every once in awhile she would stop and take a little drink of the water.
I’ve heard of dogs that get car sick, but thankfully Sophie was not one of those dogs. She loved the car! She even did so well on longer drives. At first she’d be excited and looking out the window, but once we would get on the highway she would lay down and settle into whatever bed or blanket we had brought for her. She also knew when we were driving to certain places like my Dad’s work, my Grandma’s house, Kristina and Maddy’s houses and even to get ice cream. She would start to get excited and antsy whenever we were getting close because she knew where she was going.
Sophie was around for all of our school dances (except for my Junior prom) and of course we had to get pictures with her. (I’m pretty sure my prom date liked Sophie more than me haha!) She was also around for each of our graduation parties. For my party she had just turned one and we basically let her to her own devices for the day. She was so well trained that she stayed in the yard even with people coming and going. (When we first got her we would walk her around the edge of our yard so she knew how far she was allowed to go.) At the end of my graduation party she was so tired from following so many people around and who knows what all she ate, that she fell asleep on my best friend, Chelsy’s lap as I opened up my cards from the party. All of a sudden Sophie must have relaxed from falling asleep and she peed on Chelsy’s lap since none of us had told her to go to the bathroom all day!
Dressing up Sophie was one of my favorite past times. When we first got Sophie she fit into Build-A-Bear shirts and when she was full grown she wore 6 month t-shirts. I loved putting her ears in little balls so she looked like a teddy bear. When was cut really close we would call her our little deer because she was so skinny.
When Sophie was younger we could always get her to look at the camera for a picture. But as I got into photography she became one of my main subjects and unfortunately it back-fired on me and she hated the camera. I would try to get a selfie and she would look anywhere but the phone. I would use my high-treat voice and she would refuse to look at my camera.
The image on the left was after I did a newborn session for my friend. I brought all the stuff home and did a newborn shoot with all the props with Sophie! Once she had the cataract it was easier to take pictures of her because she couldn’t see if you had a camera on that side. lol In 2015 my sister Maddy and her husband, Steve, took in Shug a Wheaton Terrier. They didn’t play with each other, but they coexisted well. Doesn’t Sophie look thrilled to be in a basket with bunny ears on?
The Steelers won the Super Bowl twice when Sophie was younger and could fit into the Build-A-Bear Steeler Jersey and helmet.
We got Sophie this sweater when she was younger and she wore almost every winter. We would actually just leave it on her all day and at times she would even sleep in it. She would often sleep in her Penn State and Pitt shirts as well, especially after she got a haircut in the winter.
Sophie was also around for each of our weddings while we got ready and for the picnic that we each had at the house the day after our weddings. (The photos from my wedding are from Michael Will Photographers.)
Sophie did this for each of our weddings, as soon as we put our wedding dress on and fluffed out the train she went and laid right on them. Miss.-Doesn’t-Like-Her-Picture-Taken would all of a sudden want to be the center of attention!
For each of our weddings I made Sophie something to wear for pictures while we got ready. For my wedding it was a hot pink tulle collar. For Maddy’s wedding I made a white tulle collar. And for Kristina’s wedding I made a light blue bandana.
Krissy moved back home after college (like Maddy and I did) and was the last daughter left at the house before she married Phil. Sophie as you’ll find out prefers men and loved that Phil played with her. Phil, Kristina and Sophie became known as the three amigos. This was at the picnic after their wedding. On the right Kristina was saying goodbye and Sophies eyes might have been bugging out a little! She was just so easy to squeeze!
For Christmas one year we secretly snuck Sophie out of the house and took her to the mall so we could get pictures taken at Portrait People as gifts for our parents. We felt so special having a dog at the mall and of course so many people commented on how cute she was 🙂
Until the last year Sophie loved scrambled eggs. And at Easter she loved hard boiled eggs. She loved to carry them around in her mouth if they still had the shell on them and she also loved to eat the hard boiled eggs.
We would have to watch her because, like with any bone we gave her, she would slowly try to sneak off and go hide the hard boiled egg. Seriously multiple times we would have to call her back, but she thought she was so crafty and would try to go hide the egg whenever we started talking again. Her favorite spot to burry bones was in the pillows on Kristina’s bed and in the couch downstairs that she was allowed on.
Another great food love was ice cream. We loved getting her pup-cones because of how delicately she licked the ice cream. She never wanted the bones, just the ice cream. And she never downed the whole thing of ice cream. She would actually usually stop about half-way through and be done. She was very good with “managing” her food. We could leave her food in her bowl all day long and she wouldn’t eat it. Whenever we sat down to eat dinner then she would go to her bowl and eat her food.
Sophie was a beggar, she never barked, but she would just stare. Every once in a while she would stand vertically and put one paw on your leg just to let you know she was down there.
I’ve mentioned she loved cheese and eggs, she also loved corn on the cob, watermelon, carrots, tomatoes, crackers/chips/pretzels. I loved to give her corn on the cob and watermelon so I could see her little teeth take bites. I also loved giving her goldfish or a little piece of chip or pretzel because I thought it was so cute to hear her little teeth crunching the food.
Sophie was a sucker for Ben, when we would go home she would follow him around. She wouldn’t sleep between my legs, but Ben’s. (Much to Ben’s chagrin, the poor boy is 6’1″ in a double bed and needs his leg room.)
I would get jealous of Ben, but I also secretly loved that they got along. Even if somehow Ben was slightly allergic to her and if he touched her and then his eyes they would get itchy and start to turn red. (Maybe she wasn’t so hypoallergenic?)
You know how they say the little dogs usually rule the roost, that was Sophie. Most of her life she was around 10 pounds (a great size for a lap dog) and as she got older and moved around less (she had some arthritis) she eventually ended up around 15 pounds.
Chelsy’s daughter, Elle, basically grew up around Sophie. She loved Sophie because she was smaller than her dog. I love the middle picture! Sophie is so uninterested, and Kristina’s dog, Finn, is in the background with a bottle asking to be played with.
I loved taking portraits of Sophie and capturing all her little details like her paws, ears, nose, teeth and tongue. This picture was from a dark room photography class that I took in high school and then developed myself.
That nose and tongue! Sophie was not allowed on that chair (even though I’m pretty sure she went on it every time we left), but I allowed it for this portrait. 🙂
Christmas with Sophie and eventually both my sisters’ dogs was so much fun! This was Sophie’s first Christmas where I got her and my Grandma’s first dog, a Maltese named Molly, matching shirts from Build-A-Bear. I sewed lace on the bottom to make them a little bit longer. (These are pictures of film prints that were out of focus from the beginning so the quality is awful, but I love that it was her first Christmas.)
We have this tradition in my family at Christmas that while we open presents in the morning we don’t throw any of the wrapping or boxes away until the very end. We throw it all in the middle of the room and make a big pile! It’s also a fun game to throw the dogs’ new toys in the middle of the pile and watch them work their way through the pile to find their toy.
Sophie loved opening up presents! We wrap the dogs’ gifts in tissue paper so they can have fun tearing into the presents. We would have to watch the gift if it contained food or a ball because Sophie could smell what it was and would try to tear into the gift before Christmas morning.
Sophie’s favorite kind of toy that she would not totally tear to shreds were the thicker one’s that were furry and looked very similar to a real a bunny, chipmunk or squirrel (she did have that terrier in her). We always said she would chew off all the little appendage like the feet, ears, and tails and get them to a certain point and then she was done. She would still play with it, lick it and naw on it, but she wouldn’t tear it to shreds. The only reason she would get new ones each year was because she would lick it and naw on it so much that the fur on the animal was gross.
The last time I saw Sophie I just had a weird feeling and so I took her around the house and photographed what ended up being her final portraits. It was if she knew it was the last time I’d see her because the dog that refused to look at the camera let me take all the pictures I wanted. And amazingly that milky cataract eye turned back to her beautiful black eye. These are her final pictures.
Sophie had kidney failure which meant that she couldn’t hold her bladder as well. Towards the end she had to wear diapers (which were so cute on her, especially with her little tail sticking out the back) and for about the last month my mom even lined the hallway where she liked to lay with towels because sometimes the diapers weren’t enough.
My family says that I was fortunate not to have to see her in her final days, that it was heartbreaking, that she was weak from not eating and drinking and that it was just a lot to take care of her. And I don’t deny that I was fortunate not to have to experience it. But I also wanted to be there for my best friend, to help her through her final days and to let her know that she would forever be a part of me and in my heart. I know that she does know that and she’s waiting for me, but I still miss her terribly a year and a month later. When I’m home in Pittsburgh I still expect her to be waiting for me at the door or laying in her spots. I still look down to make sure I don’t trip over her.
I’ve come to realize just how much she was to me even though I didn’t realize it at the time. She truly was my best friend. She may have favored Ben, but when I needed her she knew it and she was ultimately my girl. She was my therapy dog who really helped me with my anxiety and through some very difficult times. She was a member of the family that somehow communicated everything she needed to us on a human level with a simple head tilt. She was truly a very special dog that God gave my family when we were in a time of need because He knew that shew would comfort us.
While I took her final portraits she followed me through the yard and I looked back and snapped this picture. She was running around like she was young again, not like she was 15 years old. This is how I remember her.
So that is Sophie, it was both hard and therapeutic to put together this post. I know it was extremely long and if you made it to this point then thank so much for sticking with me! This post was really just a way to document Sophie and her life for me.
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