The good old days….
When my boys were younger and I was richer (relatively speaking) we had two dogs. One, a standard poodle by the name of Abner and one, a golden retriever by the name of Sophie.
We had gotten Abner when he was a year old. I had seen him when he was only a few months old and the owners mother was watching him. He was exuberant, beautiful, and he took my son down in three strides, lol. I said to her, if you ever get rid of that dog, give me first right of refusal. Sadly, her daughter passed away and as she had gotten the standard poodle as a status symbol along with the Mercedes. Her husband HATED the dog and let his little dogs nip at his long legs. She wanted to rehome him and approached me. She wanted $300 for him and I would have his papers. I said, no, he’s to be a pet, not a show dog and I don’t care about his papers, but I do love the breed. She mulled it over and offered me him for $100. She brought him by to see if we were compatible. He had never been trained, was ill mannered, and humping everything. My mother, who lived with me (or was that me with her?) said NO! Then we discussed it, I would train him (I used to show dogs) and we agreed to take him. The woman brought him over, no collar, no receipt, no nothing and we acquired the dog we named Abner. He was so ill-mannered I had him into the vet in three days to have him fixed, a collar on him in minutes, and was working on his manners that same day! Poor guy never knew what hit him as I trained him to be the polite dog he became.
Then it was time a year or two later to get Sophie. I had promised my oldest son a dog of his own. We started hitting up the pound. The only two golden retrievers we could find were Sophie and another dog that could JUMP six foot fences. They didn’t tell us Sophie could dig under them JUST AS FAST! She was ill-mannered to a degree too. She had been found wandering the streets and for that first year she looked longingly at pick-up trucks and for a guy…must have been her former owner. We picked her up from the vets office because our county insisted on all pound dogs to be fixed…she already had been but they didn’t see the scars until they opened her up again and couldn’t find her girl parts. So Sophie got fixed TWICE! She was afraid to get in our SUV though. We took her home, Abner was delighted to have someone to play with, but when he tried to dominate her, she turned on him so quick that he was shocked and learned his place pretty fast. He did teach her to love car rides, it became a competition between them.
Christmas that year was a delight with the boys so young and the pets (we had three cats too). Everyone got presents. I got Sophie a nice squeaky plastic tube of dogpaste…so she could keep her teeth clean as she squeaked and chewed. Abner got a nice hedgehog that seemed to delight him, until he realized Sophie got a toy too. It was funny to watch them as they both enviously watched the other with THEIR toy. Eventually, they switched and were very pleased with the trade.
That hedgehog marked the year of change…in a lot of ways. I began traveling a LOT and each time I came home I brought presents…always a hedgehog and something else for the dogs. Sophie had a thing for hedgehogs from that year on. Not because she liked to make them squeak, but because she would chew the seams until the stuffing would come out. Then she would enjoy the outside to her hearts content…I called them roadkill. It didn’t matter what animal it was, hedgehogs lasted longer and were special.
One year, I brought home toys made for great danes. I figured that at least then Sophie (we had let Abner go at this point) wouldn’t be able to chew through them as quickly. The eighteen inch high hedgehog I did not give her. I put him on a six foot shelf in my bedroom. Sophie would look at him up on the shelf each time she came in the bedroom. I knew by the soft brown eyes she used on me (golden retrievers are masters at that) that she wanted him..she looked at him so longingly. She’d come into the room, look up very deliberately at the shelf where he sat, and then glance at me to see if I was watching her. It was really quite amusing. She had all these other toys, the ones she was slowly destroying to roadkill, and yet, the one she wanted the most, the hedgehog just sat there…for years.
I finally gave in, after all it was kinda mean but it was also time. I handed him to her when we moved and it took her two weeks to turn what was a beautiful specimen of a toy into roadkill. She loved every moment of it. Over the years she had other hedgehogs, but none were ever as big as that one, or as special because she had to wait for it.
I miss having a fur baby in my household. Someday I will again. Meanwhile, my memories will hold me over…RIP Sophie and Abner; you were a special part of mine and my kids’ lives….