This morning, while everyone else in my house was still asleep, I decided to do something that I do about once every six months or so – clean out the file cabinet.  It always brings back memories, for as the year progresses, we tend to toss receipts, booklets, informational papers, and other such items in the file cabinet in the folders marked “Important Receipts”.  This really is just a catch-all for those things that we feel we must keep for a little while but that we don’t ever really go back and toss.  I wish my file cabinet was a bit larger so that I had room for a “Keep it for about a month” file that I could just toss when the month passed.  But, then I’d have to have 12 of those to roll forward, so that would just take up an entire drawer.  So, I guess “Important Receipts” will have to remain the stay of the day.

Today’s file cabinet clean-out was no different than it usually is.  I ran across things that made me roll my eyes, things that made me smile at a happy or fun memory, and things that made me wonder why in the world I’d even taken the time to file instead of just tossing the items in the trash.  I also ran across something that made me sad.  A photo of a little fuzzy white child about which I still feel heartbreak.  It was a photo of our Sophie.

About 2 years ago, I really started wanting a dog again.  I had not had a dog since my Gracie had gone to live with a family with a farm when I sold my house and did not have room for a large dog.  She loved her new family, and they kept me updated on her antics and hilarious nature until she passed away last year (of old age).  I wanted a smaller dog this time – something that I could tote around, that would not eat me out of house and home, and that would be a good companion for the whole family.  I choose a Maltese because they don’t really shed, they have a great nature and are full of energy but less than terrier energy, and they are small and somewhat compact, so easy for travel. 

I asked folks I knew where I could get one.  I searched the internet.  I didn’t want a show-quality pup, because I wanted one that I could puppy cut and not feel bad that the $2500 pedigree hair do was going to waste.  I found a friend who had a Maltese and had obtained him from a breeder a few years before.  I called the breeder, and made arrangements to get the puppy on our way back from Spring Break.  It was set to be a great surprise for the girls, and I was super-excited to one again have a furry friend in the house.

We picked up Sophie in late March of that year.  She was small, and her parents looked healthy.  The breeder seemed nice.  We took her home, and took photos, took naps, and totally enjoyed our new bundle of fur.  Going to the pet section at the store was like buying baby clothing for a newborn.  We were fascinated at the new-fangled items we found.  We loved her, and she loved us.

Day two arose, and I noticed that there was something wrong with her back foot.  She seemed to be holding it up and not wanting to use it when she was walking.  I had made a vet appointment, as part of my contract with the breeder stated that I could get my money back if I found the puppy to be in ill health.  I never thought that I would have to take her back, but I was saddened to find out that her back kneecap was deformed.  I had to make the heart-wrenching decision to take her back to the breeder.

The breeder lives about 2 hours from our house.  We had to drive with poor Sophie, knowing that because of her deformity the breeder would most likely not be able to sell her to someone else.  It still saddens me greatly to even think about what the breeder did with her when we took her back.  I can’t even think about it without getting a bit sick to my stomach.

When we were driving back, I was angry.  Angry at the breeder for not noticing this or for pushing a puppy off on me knowing this.  I was angry at Sophie for not being what I dreamed she would be.  I put her in the puppy carrier in the back seat, and we started our drive back to the southern part of our state.

About 5 minutes into our drive, I started crying (again).  My husband said that this was for the best, as we needed a puppy who we could love without having a lot of expenses, if (and it was a big if) her leg could even be fixed.  The vet had told us that this deformity would probably show up in her other leg as well, and that it was about a 50/50 chance that she could even do anything about it.

I looked in the backseat of the car.  Little Sophie was just sitting there, her little black eyes curious and a little scared, I’m sure wondering where we were taking her.  In two days, she’d been in the car quite a lot, had been to the vet, and had been loved.  Right at that moment, I realized that my love for her during that 2-hour car ride might very well be the last bit of love she’d ever receive.  This made me so very sad. 

I opened the carrier door and picked up little Sophie.  I gathered her blankey and put her on my lap, cuddling, petting, and loving her.  I told her that we loved her and that this was one of the saddest things I’d ever had to do.  I told her that we would never forget our little Sophie.

It’s been almost two years, and every time I think of that sweet little face looking up at me, I get sad.  I don’t want to know what the breeder did with her when we took her back.  She seemed sad that the puppy was not well and expressed her embarrassment at our having to go through all of this bad stuff for what should have been a happy time for our family.  I hope only that she loved Sophie and that Sophie has had a good life.  I hope, but I do not let my mind wander very far into the other options she must have had that day.

On the way back, I cried more.  I cried the next day.  I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try again.  About a week later, though, my husband must have sensed how much I really wanted a fuzzy child.  So, we went to the breeder our vet recommended and bought our Moxie.  She has been a wonderful girl and is very loved.  Her personality is so very different than Sophie’s was, even in the short time we knew Sophie.  Maybe she knew we wanted more excitement than we knew we wanted ourselves.

Our little Sophie.


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