Thanks to everyone who left such kind comments about Sophie. She really was a special dog.
Sophie came to me when she was two months old and I was living in South Dakota. My mom found her for me in Chicago after a long and careful search and drove her out. (That's Mom with Sophie at right.) Working nights, I had a lot of free daytime to devote to the training and exercise of my goofy little girl, and even after we moved to Colorado, I continued with advanced training, both voice commands and hand signals.
I think good genetics and abundant exercise helped her stay healthy as long as she did. The training and her sweet nature meant she was welcomed everywhere and admired even by people who don't like dogs. When her hearing started to go, she still could follow hand commands, and she knew never to cross the street without waiting for me to give the OK.
When she was three, I adopted another poodle, a 5-year-old named Doogie (that's the name he came with). He was an awesome dog, too. Twice her size and a big love-sponge. Sophie used him as a pillow, and taught him the Good Dog rules by example. His later diagnosis of heart disease meant two years of constant vet visits, myriad medications and a long, slow decline. Sophie was with him when he died in his sleep. She knew he wasn't coming back. She seemed happy to be an only dog again, so I didn't adopt another.
After my experience with Doogie, I hoped that when Sophie went, it would be fast. And it was. On Monday we were getting ready to go for a walk when she had a massive seizure and didn't come out of it. The Sergeant and I rushed her to the vet but nothing could stop whatever was happening in her brain. So I let her go.
It was a hard decision and an easy one. By that point, her life had already ended. Her heart couldn't take any more drugs and she'd likely suffered severe brain damage.
She lived a good, long life, longer than most. So while it was horrible to lose her that way, I can console myself that it wasn't before her time and that (hopefully) she lost awareness very quickly. She went from fine to gone in 20 minutes.
If there is a doggie heaven, I am sure Doogie was there to welcome her.