The Just Love Project 014: Sophie’s Strong Suit

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Springer Spaniels are often known for two instinctual skills: showing affection, and hunting.

Sophie, Jackie Romolo’s six-year-old Springer, is great at exactly half those things, and it’s the one that’s as far from loud noises as possible. Pouring M&Ms into a bowl will send her hiding in the bathroom. So despite an initial goal of bringing Sophie along on pheasant hunting trips, gunshots were quickly determined to be out of the question.

“She doesn’t have a hunting bone in her body,” Jackie says.  

It seems she was intended for something else. When Jackie & her husband started fostering through Second City Canine Rescue, it was clear that Sophie’s talent was much quieter than exploding gunpowder, but just as powerful.

“She’s a lover,” Jackie says simply. And, with any dog they bring into the home, Sophie does what she knows best. “Mistreated, malnourished, sick, healthy – whatever shape the dog is in, she knows what her job is.”

Sophie (left), a “Beach Friend” (middle), & Sophie’s foster brother Tucker (right)

She lies with them to make them feel comfortable. She watches them. She teaches them how to play, how to go outside, and how to follow Mom & Dad’s house rules. And, as a true SCCR foster Mom, she shares the same grateful but bittersweet struggles of fostering that her human counterparts often experience.

“After they get adopted, I feel bad for her because I can tell she misses them.”

But if the last two years are any indicator, it’s the job Sophie was meant to do. And she’s mighty good at it. Her innate ability to love always saved plenty of room for the humans in her life, too.

Jackie’s Uncle Lou lived nearby in an assisted living center. To any resident that called the center home, Sophie was an all-time favorite visitor. And, with a calm expression and two big floppy but attentive ears – she’s an all-time great listener.

Sophie with Uncle Lou

“She will sit, look them straight in the eye, and listen to every story of every dog they ever had.”

Uncle Lou loved Sophie tremendously. With every visit, Sophie brought a smile to his face and a companion by his side. Jackie’s Uncle Lou passed earlier this year. As his health worsened, that affection never changed.

“She’d lay at the foot of his bed, and with any movement the doctors or nurses made, she’d shoot up to make sure he was okay.”

Sophie’s never been to an emotional support class. She’s never been taught how to read body language and intuitively know that someone could really use a wagging tail and a wet kiss on the cheek. Sometimes love doesn’t need a lesson. Maybe a guest lecture from Sophie would be more appropriate. Jackie would likely be the first student to sign up, as she’s quick to admit Sophie’s taught her quite a bit.

“I always pray that I do the right thing by people. To do kind, to make a difference,” Jackie explains. “Sophie quite literally lives to give love and to be loved. She’s so pure. If you can look at that type of behavior and learn from even a fraction of it – it can change your whole outlook.”

So here’s to loving what’s around us, except for those terrifying multicolored candies that Mom & Dad always put out . . . .

Jackie & Sophies story is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans & their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone you know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at ILuvMutts@MuttJackson.com – we’d love to hear from you!