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GENERATIONS: Sofie, a ‘Hines’ 57, finds a home

This month marks the one-year anniversary of Sofie’s adoption.

She has adapted well, has a healthy appetite, gets plenty of love and attention, exercises, and is comfortable in her new home.  

Most of our married life, Gary and I have had two dogs -- a big dog (always a lab or retriever) and a smaller dog (a beagle or a Jack Russell terrier). Last October, we had just one dog -- Shadow, an adopted black lab who has completely hijacked my heart. But one dog didn’t seem quite enough, even one very special dog. So I’d been keeping an eye out for a smaller dog that needed a home. One day I saw a Facebook posting about a dog that had been living in the woods near Hines for a month and needed a home. I checked it out.

If you are a dog lover, you know that you never go to “look” at a dog without expecting to return home with it. I placed a dog pillow on the floor in the back of Gary’s Element and drove to Hines. Based on the Facebook post, I knew she was a short-legged older dog with a body like a Corgi, an uncropped tail, and a head like -- something else. She was mostly black with a light brown muzzle and matching eyebrows. Her underbelly, which was just inches off the ground, faded from light brown to almost white beneath a layer of dirt from living in the woods.

During that month, she had tried to endear herself to a couple whose yard she frequented. Not wanting to adopt a dog, the couple had not fed her, hoping she would move on, but as the weather grew colder and the stray failed to leave, the man leaned a piece of plywood against the side of the house to give her a little shelter at night, and a kind-hearted neighbor dropped off dog food for her and posted the Facebook message with a picture of the dog and a plea for someone to adopt her.

As I drove into the couple’s driveway, the dog greeted me with a steady stream of barking. I soon learned that she barked at anything unfamiliar -- which was almost everything. But the whole time she was barking -- hair on her back standing up in a false display of intimidation -- her tail wagged, not back and forth, but in a strange circular wag.

We made friends quickly. When I stepped out of the vehicle, she approached me, stopped barking -- her tail still in that crazy spiral wag -- and came forward to be petted. I clinched the deal with the offer of a tasty dog biscuit.

In spite of their not wanting a dog, I sensed a certain fondness the couple had developed for the little stray. Toward the end of each day, they told me, the dog would sit near U.S. Highway 71, staring at the road, as if waiting for someone to come back and get her. Had she somehow become separated from her owner? Was someone still hoping to be reunited with her? Or had someone decided she was getting too old and dropped her off -- as people sometimes do -- in the country?

The couple was happy she would have a home. “The nights are getting colder,” the man said. “She needed a home.”

“We’ve been calling her Sofie,” said the woman. “She seems to respond to that.” And they presented me with a lovely squash from their garden as an adoption gift. The neighbor was glad to have helped facilitate the adoption, I felt good about giving the dog a home, and Sofie didn’t hesitate to get into the vehicle, although she needed a “legs up.” (She’s not much of a jumper.)

I drove Sofie to the veterinarian’s office to have her checked out. She was a little nervous but didn’t balk when I led her into the exam room. The vet estimated she was about eight years old and that she had never been spayed. She had a mammary tumor the size of a marble and a fleshy stie on her eyelid. Other than that, she was doing pretty well for an older dog who had been living in the woods for a month.

The vet took care of the basic vaccines and suggested I see how things worked out with Sofie before deciding on anything else. I appreciated her thoughts about giving it time -- all new relationships need some time -- but I was already committed.  (A few months later, I took Sofie in to have her spayed and to have the tumor and stie removed.)

After the initial visit, I drove Sofie to the dog wash. Within minutes, her coat was clean, shiny, and soft. Her first night at our house, we discovered that she is severely hearing impaired. When we took her for a walk, we also noticed some serious arthritis in her hips and front left leg, but we’ve walked her daily. Winter was tough with her surgery recovery. (Wearing the cone of shame low to the ground was a challenge for Sofie.)

Sofie’s a people dog. She loves attention. She’s good with other dogs and has become friends with the family next door. We’ve grown accustomed to her happy little “Wookie” growl and have found the range of sounds necessary to get her attention. Shadow has accepted her as part of the family.

I sometimes wonder if Sofie remembers anything about her previous home. I wonder if she has dog dreams about her former family, but a year later, she acts as if this is the only home she’s ever known.

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