Sophie Marie Leissner
4/7/07 -- 5/21/2013
We drove out on a Sunday afternoon to pick out our new puppy. We had extensively researched the kind of dog that would work for our family. We needed a breed that's independent, happy outside, protective of the farm animals, a good guard dog for the family, smart and easy going. The Anatolian-Great Pyrenees cross seemed like a great dog for us. We'd just lost our Annie (our first Anatolian-Pyre cross) to osteosarcoma, bone cancer that is common in big dog breeds. Having just moved to our newly built house in the middle of what used to be a pasture, we'd already lost 4 turkeys to bobcats. We knew we needed to hurry and get another guardian.
I don't remember how many there were, but the little building where they'd been corralled for our visit was teeming with wriggly puppies. Some of them looked more slenderish Anatolian, some more bulky Pyre. All the all-white pups were eliminated from competition because Annie had been all white. She had been fiercely loyal and kind of shy, preferring to stay under the porch of our old house and scare the pants off visitors by barking ferociously rather than trotting up for a sniff and pat. (More than once people called us on the phone from the driveway to ask if it was okay to get out of the car.) I liked that about her and wanted to find another quiet, cautious, protective girl. I saw a little girl standing apart from the crowd of yipping, jumpy litter mates and knew immediately she was our girl and we were her people.
She grew to be much more social overall than Annie had been. She liked to hang out with us on the porch in the sunshine, play in the yard in the cool of the morning, noodle the cats with her snout, and occasionally full out chase the guineas, especially when they got too close to her food.
One springlike morning this January, Sophie was doing her puppy run where she would race in circles around the yard at top speed. As she made a sudden stop, she let out a whimper and limped a little on her hind leg. I thought maybe she'd just given herself a little sprain or something. She was really too old to be acting like a silly 130 pound puppy anyway. But the limp never went away. We knew this could be very bad. And it was.
Having already experienced osteosarcoma, we knew the symptoms. We also knew that by the time symptoms show up, it's too late to do much. We'd taken a chance with amputation for Annie, but we really didn't want to put Sophie through that. We just decided to let her enjoy the time she had as much as possible. The vet said we would know when it was time.
There's been terrible tragedy in our country in the last few days. I pray for our neighbors in Oklahoma and grieve for the families of those lost, especially the children. In no way do I equate my animals with my people. She was a dog. But she was a sweetheart of a dog. She made me feel special when she chose to jump up on the bench right across from my chair on the porch even though there were lots of other benches she could have chosen. When she deliberately placed her paw on your arm, it seemed like a friendly gesture....a sort of doggie hug.
When she looked in the back window in the mornings while I made coffee, I'd raise my hand and give her a wave. She'd give me a wag in return. I'm really, really going to miss that.
We are so thankful for the six fun years we had with her. We hope we made her a good family. I think she was happy here. It was a great pleasure to be her human.
We know we can't replace her. Just like Annie, she'll hold a special place in our hearts, memories and family album. But we do need dogs around to protect the critters and keep the cats in line. We also thought a puppy now would help our other dog Samson not be so lonely for his almost lifelong companion. Finally, we thought it might help us bridge our loss too. We've been looking high and low across the state for Anatolian-Pyre pups and were about to make a deposit on some a two hour drive away when we just happened to see some at our local monthly flea market. These two little fur balls came home with us this past Saturday.
Baxter and Ellie Lu don't know yet how big the doggie shoes are they have been called to fill. Right now, the sock nibbles and puppy breath are doing all we need.
May the good Lord bless you and your family today and hold you in His loving embrace.