Our reader rescue story this week is about Sophie, a so-called “mean” dog. Luckily, her foster mom figured out that she was actually a very sweet dog, and helped her find a furever home. We hope you enjoy reading Sophie’s story as much as we did.
If you are the pet parent of a rescued dog, we want to share your story, too! For information about submitting your story, click here.
Considered Mean to Kids, Sophie is Owner-Surrendered
By Susie Mahoney
I had a Golden Retriever named Zeke who was a trained therapy dog. Zeke accompanied me each day to my job as an elementary school counselor from when he was 3 months old until he died at age 6.
When he was about 4 years old, we decided we really needed to add another Golden to the family and definitely wanted to rescue our new friend. However, we did not want a puppy. (One time dealing with a puppy was enough for us.)
We did our research, and found a Golden from the local prison dog-training program, but we also put our names on the list of prospective parents with Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska (GRRIN) just to keep our options open.
Before long, we were given the opportunity to meet a female purebred Golden named Sophie from GRRIN.
Sophie had been left at the local humane society about two hours from us. The family that relinquished her said she was “mean” to their kids. Goldens don’t do well in pounds and shelters because of their overwhelming need to be around people and activity. Because Sophie had been labeled as a “mean” dog, no one had adopted her yet.
Before long, GRRIN was contacted to see if they could take Sophie. She was placed with a foster family that specialized in dealing with aggressive dogs. Within two weeks, the foster mom, Cheryl, knew that this dog was far from mean, and actually was an absolute dream.
We met Sophie at a park in a nearby town. It was love at first sight. We brought Zeke to meet her, and being the gentleman he was, he accepted her immediately.
Within a week, Sophie came home with us. I started training her immediately to be a therapy dog. Sophie was feisty and full of energy, and every bit of a clown. Then, a strange thing happened. The very same month that Sophie completed her testing for Good Canine Citizen and Domestic-pup Therapy Dog certification, Zeke developed cancer and had to have his front right leg amputated. Sophie got to come to school and fill in for Zeke while he was recuperating at home. After a month or so, he returned to school, which made me so happy because Sophie was a handful!
A couple of months later, sadly, the cancer that was not supposed to spread did. Cancer had filled Zeke’s lungs, and it was only a couple of weeks until we made that tough decision to send him over the Rainbow Bridge.
Sophie was our lifesaver. What would I have done when Zeke died if I hadn’t had Sophie to take his spot at school? What would we have done at home with no dog to love? But what was I going to do with this hyper girl at school?
Even though we worried, it was Sophie who helped hundreds of kids, adults and my family heal from the heartache of losing Zeke. Sophie became a mature, calm dog about two weeks after Zeke died. I thought it was my imagination until four different staff members at my school mentioned how they’d noticed a change in Sophie. I don’t know how she knew it was time to grow up, but she did.
This is Sophie’s fourth year at school. She is a wonder with the students at Randolph Elementary. She listens to reluctant readers work on their fluency, snuggles up to kids with tears, helps students calm down when they’re upset and fills up the hearts of many. So this forgotten dog that was “mean” to kids has proven that dog ownership is not a right, but a privilege – a privilege we need to take seriously in our work with responsible training.
Now, Sophie has her job cut out for her in training her new brother, Hank – another Golden, another rescue and another story…