My Dad and I have a few things in common that we both really love: Elvis, Country music and dogs. Right around my 16th birthday, my Dad and I drove to a breeder’s home to pick out a black lab from a litter of puppies. I remember the day vividly, it was rainy and dreary and I was wearing my favorite T-shirt with a daisy on it. When we walked into the breeder’s home, all we could hear was puppies whimpering and their little paws scampering on the kitchen floor. I sat down amongst the 9 puppies and played with all of them while my Dad talked to the breeders.

They explained to my Dad that the mother was a black lab and the father was a yellow lab and that 8 of the puppies were black lab females and the 1 yellow lab was a male. My Dad and I always knew we would get a female so all I had to do was choose from the sea of black. Each of them had a plastic collar with a number on it so after much inspection, I chose #8. It was when I was holding #8 in my arms that stood up and looked outside on the porch…looking in at me with the saddest eyes was the mother of the litter, Symba. I remember the breeders holding onto the pup for dear life, saying goodbye–they seemed just as upset about losing the puppy as the mother did.

Driving home, I held onto the puppy the whole way with her wrapped in a blanket on my lap and she cried the entire ride. I had a short list of names that I thought would fit this new puppy well, such as ‘Kitty’ or ‘Daisy,’ but one of my Dad’s childhood dogs that he loved dearly was named ‘Sophie’ so that is what we settled on. I registered her with the American Kennel Club as ‘Symba’s Sophie Tasker.’

Sophie was my best friend. I taught her tricks such as sit, lay down, roll over, sit-pretty (on hind legs with front paws crossed in the air), how to balance a treat on her nose and bounce it in the air and catch it in her mouth. I even showed her how to pick blueberries from the bushes in our back yard. We would walk around outside together and she never left my side. She would sit on my bed after I got home from school and I would talk to her about my day while she listened intently. She could swim like a fish and loved to fetch a Frisbee. When I went to college, I would come home every few months for a long weekend and as soon as she’d see me, her tail would wag and her whole body would shake. She would start to cry as I approached her and then she would pee out of pure excitement.

I remember saying goodbye to her after living with her for 6 years when I was ready to move to California. As she has gotten older, and I am away for longer periods of time, she has slowly started to forget what I look like, but she can still remember what I sound like. “Gone to college is what you said, but for all I know that means she’s dead.”

I suppose you never forget your first childhood dog. I grew up with Sophie. She was the greatest friend and an excellent listener.

Now, I had to talk about Sophie before I start serenading Cali, the newest addition to our home, which has made my husband, Ryan, and I into a family. Cali is pictured above. We believe she is a basenji-lab mix and are happy that she has acquired the best qualities from both breeds. As with all basenjis, she howls & cries instead of barks, is light on her feet with the ability to jump 5 feet in the air from standing still, and will max out at 30 pounds with the cutest wrinkles on her forehead. Basenji’s, however, hate the water and our Cali-monster is an excellent swimmer and does so for recreation with no interest in fetching a ball, she just likes to do figure-8’s in the pool.

Ryan and I are absolutely nuts over this dog. We talk about her everyday and enjoy every minute we spend with her. You will hear much more about her in the future.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 at 8:33 am and is filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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