Monday, October 5, 2015

Sophie's Bucket List

Monday October 5, 2015

I started exploring the idea of getting a family dog back in 2008. I grew up with a dog and I knew that a dog is an important part of the family.
Traveling in style through Europe.
Having three boys, I saw this also as my opportunity to get a girl and give her the name I would have used if I had a daughter: Sophie.

The only dog for us was a Labrador because of how good they are with children. It was to be a new family member. I emailed all the kennels in Sweden that were due to have puppies and then finally found her at Kullaholm’s Kennel in Motala.

Sophie was one of 9 puppies born on April 8, 2009. Her parents were champions and she has a pedigree. All the dogs in the litter were to have names from Star Wars and we could pick her “official” name. It seemed like providence because at that time (and still today) my kids love Star Wars. We chose the name Padme.  Yes, two of her brothers are called Chewbacca and Hans Solo.

We made two visits to Motala to see the puppies before we actually got to take her home. It was an exciting time to be with those puppies. The kennel owner asked us if we were going to hunt with her or if she would be a family dog and she chose Sophie for us. A perfect match.

We picked her up in June 2009. It was a heartwarming experience to drive there and then be responsible for a dog that was so cute and new. She mastered peeing and pooping outside within a few days. Already we knew what a special dog she was.

Learning –At dog obedience school she didn’t listen to me. I sent Peter next time and was devastated when he came home with her and she listened to him and his deep voice.
Her gentleness with the boys, tolerant of their love as they have been growing up alongside her – it’s amazing. She sees them each as individuals and knows how each one is pleased.
She doesn’t listen to me as much as she listens to Peter but her and I share a different bond. We were friends from the beginning. She looked out for me and I looked out for her.
I always hurried home from work during lunch hour to take her out. Ended up starting my own business and she was with me at work during the 3 years that I had my premises, being in the office, just enjoying being nearby.

She travelled with us to the north of Sweden and Norway. She hiked in the mountains and drank from a natural spring when she was just a puppy.

When we left the country to visit relatives the first time, she stayed in a kennel. When we picked her up that is when I first heard the comment that she is the best dog ever. They didn’t want to let her go and looked forward to seeing her next time.

Once people met her and her gentle ways they were hooked. So after a while friends and relatives were practically fighting over who would have her if we went on vacation.

Two years ago around this time she started doing something to me that I thought was different and strange but it all made sense a few months later. Since she was little, I never let her lick my face. The kids let her do it but I didn’t enjoy that. So it was strange when I would be sitting on the couch and she would put her paws on my lap and then her nose right next to my mouth (without licking me) and she smelled my breath. She did it a few times a week in the coming months.

It all made sense when three months later I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  She had smelled the changes in me before I knew what was going on because of her acute sense of smell. She was worried that something would happen to her provider.

August 2014 - moving to England

All during my treatment she was by my side and didn’t really expect much. She took care of me. I took her on walks all through my chemo and enjoyed her companionship.

We moved to England last summer and she followed along with us of course.
Sophie was just a little too big to go as airfreight so she got driven from Sweden to England by an animal courier and stayed in hotels (on the bed) through Europe.

Sophie sleeping in our room on her orthopedic bed. Comfy.
Walking the canals
She has adjusted pretty well to living here. She doesn’t really like the sounds of the mopeds or motorcycles backfiring but she has been able to explore her near surroundings and come along on our hikes outside of London. She has even been to a few pubs in England.  Everywhere we go people stop and pet her and say she is a fine dog with a beautiful shiny black coat.
Enjoying an Area of Natural Beauty in England
Last May she joined in on our holiday with 5 other families to Tenby, Wales. Her friend, Domino was also along. The house was set on the beach and Sophie enjoyed taking swims, running with Domino and being with all the kids. Sophie even managed to make a new friend in Pien who was scared of dogs. By the end of the weekend, Sophie listened to everything Pien said. Heartwarming! A friend to all!

Pien has Sophie's full attention.

Domino and Sophie hangin' in Wales
Dipping my toes in Wales.
This summer just before we were to leave to drive to Sweden, Peter hurt his leg and didn’t think he could drive all the way to Sweden. We debated between flying to Sweden for the vacation or driving at this point. The factor that won out was that I didn’t want to leave her behind. The car ride was grueling for all of us but she enjoyed being free in the Swedish countryside.

Sophie enjoying the Swedish Summer
The past few months we have noticed a limp in her right front leg after being out for a walk and playing fetch with the tennis ball. It was only sometimes and ever so slight, so we thought it was a pulled muscle. We rested her for a couple of weeks from playing fetch and too much strenuous exercise.

My parents came for a visit about two weeks ago. We took a walk with Sophie to Chiswick House and I threw the ball for her maybe 5 or 6 times and she started to limp almost right away. We sat and ate lunch at the cafe for an hour. We had thought to continue our walk to the Thames and then home but Sophie limped directly upon starting out from the cafe. It was at this point that I realized this was something serious and we needed to take her to the vet.

The local vet examined her and ran through the possible scenarios and suggested an x-ray in his office the following week. Nothing showed up there, so the next step was a referral to the Orthopedic vet at Davies Veterinary Specialists which is one of the largest and most diverse small animal veterinary referral centres in Europe.  I went to their Hyde Park office with Sophie last Thursday.
I had to leave her there for her tests on Friday at their specialist centre 2 hours outside of London.

Friday afternoon I got the first call from the vet after the MRI, CT scan, biopsy and blood tests were done.  There was a swollen gland that is a tumor and which has caused the muscle atrophy on her front right side.  The doctor said it looks like LYMPHOMA but the exact type would have to be determined by analysis of the biopsy sample.


She needed to stay at the vet until Monday, as the pet ambulance doesn’t drive on weekends. This has given me 3 days to cry, cry, cry and formulate a way to make the most of her time both for her and for us. I am devastated. I am heartbroken. I am losing a friend.

She has once again shown us just as all dogs do - that each day is meant to be treasured and lived to its fullest. So easily we lose sight of that fact. THANK YOU SOPHIE for being the BEST DOG EVER.

I picked her up today and we took a taxi home in the rain.  She has been crying since she came home. Doesn’t sit in one spot for too long and is nervous in pain.  Happy to see me but not really acting like herself. 

Playing very gently on the rug this afternoon
Even through all this pain she is still wagging her tail. She is the best at tail wagging -Never been anyone better.

How to get through this valuable and cherished time together????

Sophie’s Bucket List.

This is the start of the list……

Swim in the English Channel (or just dip my paws in)
Swim in the Thames (definitely just dip my paws in)
Eat popcorn
Run in Hyde Park
Catch the squirrel in the park
Sleep in Mommy’s bed
Family portraits
Get lucky with getting my favorite table food (cheese, chicken, fish)

Today we jogged a little bit in Hyde Park so that is one thing off the list.

Over the coming days and weeks I will be blogging and instagramming about Sophie, the best dog ever. (@5swedes)  I need something to keep me going because the ache in my heart is huge and getting bigger each day.  #Sophie #BestDogEver #SophiesBucketList #SophieGroupie



  1. I'm so sorry, Teresa. This was heartbreaking to read, but what a beautiful life you've had with Sophie. Now you'll get to be there for her with support and love, just as she was for you last year. (I wasn't aware you had cancer last year. Will need to read back through more of your blog tomorrow.) Anyway, Sophie's bucket list sounds like the stuff puppy dreams are made of. I hope she gets to enjoy it all as pain free as she possibly can. Much love to you guys during this time!

    1. Thanks Sarah. She loved her fresh salmon and rice for dinner tonight. Gobbled that right up!

  2. So sorry to read this Teresa. As you've learnt through your own fight, life is precious and to be lived to it's fullest. Great to see a bucket list for Sophie and I'm sure you'll get through those ones. Sending hugs to you and your family as you go through this time.

  3. Anonymous6/10/15

    What does one say after the year that you all have had. We're so truly sorry to hear that Sophie is unwell & shocked to hear that this may be lymphoma as well. Take each day as it comes & enjoy what you can with all the special moments. Our fur babes are so important to us all. We'll be thinking of you all. Deb & Graham

  4. Anonymous6/10/15

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️! Förstår smärtan för er! Finaste vännen man kan ha! ❤️❤️

  5. Albus and I are devastated that he will never get to meet one of the dogs who has inspired his arrival.

    I am so sorry to hear about this. She is such a lovely dog and an amazing addition to your family. Please give her a special treat and big hugs from us here. xoxo