Sophie Taz Murphy, Nov. 11, 2002 – June 30, 2016

Baby Sophie

Baby Sophie

Sophie earned her middle name “Taz” because as a puppy, she used to race around the house like the Tasmanian Devil, but after 13 years her body gave out and today, with a heavy heart, we said goodbye. We called each of the girls on video chat to let them say their goodbyes, then I took her to the vet and stayed with her as she crossed that rainbow bridge.

Sophie at 4 months

Sophie at 4 months

It was Sophie who got me back into hunting. I quit hunting when my last Lab, Sabokka, died. Then one night Carrie surprised me with a little ball of brown fur in her arms and I new it was time to get back into the game. Sophie’s first retrieve was a Sage Grouse at the age of nine months, and a couple of months later made her first water retrieve – however I had to wade out into the water waist-deep to break the thin layer of ice for her.

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Although we hunted together quite often, I rarely took her fishing. The main reason was that she would try retrieving any fish that I hooked, something that other fishermen always found humorous.

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Sophie was never destroyed a thing, except for speakers, CDs, every remote control she could find, and Ashley’s homework – which was submitted with my note: “Yes, the dog really did eat her homework”. We didn’t have crates at the time and put Sophie in the kitchen, blocked by a child gate. This lasted about five seconds before she knocked it down and that was the end of any attempts to crate or confine her.

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In addition to being an excellent retriever and hunting companion, Sophie mentored all of our dogs and I often referred to her as the “zen master” of our little pack. She took great joy in being mischievous, for example taking shoes or slippers and then standing in front of you slowly wagging her tail. More recently she would make eye contact with you before dragging limbs off piles we had raked up and chewing on them. But Sophie was always as gentle as they come.

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She along with Elvis, became certified therapy dogs nearly four years ago and it was a job she thoroughly enjoyed. When she saw me get my therapy bag, the excitement of that wild little puppy returned and she would “woof” and jump until I put her in the truck. She worked right up to the end and her last therapy visit was June 24.

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Sophie was a big part of our family for 13 years leading a happy life from start to end, loved children and was able to meet our first grandson. To say that she’ll be missed is an understatement, but she’s now free from the health problems that were taking their toll on her and if there’s room to run and water to swim, that’s where you’ll find her.

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Sophie with duck at McTucker

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Sophie's last bird hunt, October 2014.

Sophie’s last bird hunt, October 2014.

Photo op with Sophie and the ducks, 10-4-14. This would be her last hunt.

Photo op with Sophie and the ducks, 10-4-14. This would be her last hunt.

Sophie is content to wait for more ducks to fly over.

Sophie is content to wait for more ducks to fly over.

Sophie and Elvis with their Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) scarves and American Kennel Club (AKC) therapy patches.

Sophie and Elvis with their Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) scarves and American Kennel Club (AKC) therapy patches.

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Sophie visiting the hospital's rehabilitation center

Sophie visiting the hospital’s rehabilitation center

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Sophie gives us a scare

Sophie threw a scare into us this past Sunday afternoon and neither of us really thought she’d live through the night. For some time now, we’ve suspected that she has congestive heart failure and think that she had a mild heart attack.

We had gone to a movie and came home to find her standing in the living room, tail and ears down, her eyes lifeless and absolutely no energy. She seemed to be in a daze although she had no problem eating her dinner.

Sunday evening she stood looking up at our bed which is her way of telling us that she wanted on it, so I lifted her onto the bed and she fell asleep in her favorite spot, head on my pillow. When we went to bed, I picked her up and put her on her own bed, not expecting her to make it through the night.

However she woke up Monday morning back to her normal self. The episode was a reminder that at her age, time is limited. She did a great on her therapy visits two days before but I still considered retiring her after this incident. In the end we then decided that as long as she is excited to go on therapy visits and is able to, she can keep doing it for whatever time she has left.

In the tall, tall grass

The guys enjoy exploring the tall, tall grass

The guys enjoy exploring the tall, tall grass

I thought I’d work the guys on some birds before the foxtail and cheat grass ripen, particularly since neither Doc nor Mia have been on birds for several months.

Everyone got a run in the pasture before we began training and they loved exploring the tall grass.

I put Doc and Mia on two pigeons each and other than having to “whoa” them from creeping up on the birds, they picked right up where they left off after March’s hunt tests.

Happy Father’s Day

Hope everyone had a happy Father’s Day. Carrie bought me a circular saw for Father’s Day so we got the lumber and spent the day making raised garden boxes.

The first two boxes are in, nine to go.

The first two boxes are in, nine to go.

They’re 5×10 feet, 16 inches tall and with two finished, we have nine more to go.

Give him the once over. Twice.

Good advice!

Scott Linden Outdoors

Cheatgrass, foxtails ... watch for them. Cheatgrass, foxtails … watch for them.

This is the best time of year for humans, but the worst time of year for our dogs. Maybe I’m not telling you anything new, but just in case …

Everything out there can cut, irritate, scratch or otherwise damage man’s best friend. (I remember the first porcupine encounter like it was yesterday!) Just a reminder to keep minor problems minor, and minimize major problems with a careful going-over after each outing.

Foxtails, cheatgrass and other weed seeds (“awns” is the more scientific term, I believe) are some of the worst offenders. They will get in your dog’s mouth, eyes, nose, between his toes or pads, and lodge in ears. I know someone who lost a great shorthair to an inhaled foxtail that infected a lung and went undiscovered until it was too late to save it. Any seed can burrow into the skin…

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Mia substitutes at 4H

The 4H kids are training weekly during the summer, and this week Mia got her chance at 4H.

Doc's young handler gives instructions.

Doc’s young handler gives instructions.

A new kid just signed up and needed a dog so I volunteered Mia. Then at the last moment, Elvis’ young handler couldn’t make it so he stayed home while Mia substituted.

Mia and Doc in the "down" command

Mia and Doc in the “down” command

On a side note, the guys went on point while a Robin perched on the fence and everyone (including the Robin) were steady enough for me to go into the house, retrieve my cell phone, and take a picture of them.

Mia, Doc and Elvis on point.

Mia, Doc and Elvis on point.

Feathers and fur

A hen Mallard flushed from our ditch

A hen Mallard flushed from our ditch

A pair of ducks lay claim to my little pond and I’m not sure if they’re nesting, so I’ve been keeping the dogs out of the pasture just in case. The two Mallards must have gone exploring because I caught them paddling up and down the ditch in front of our house and snapped a picture as they took off.

Doc beats the heat by chilling out in front of our portable swamp cooler

Doc beats the heat by chilling out in front of our portable swamp cooler

Heat is another reason we haven’t been training. We did our annual air conditioner installation and brought the portable swamp cooler out of mothballs. Doc quickly learned the benefits of the swamp cooler (other than eating ice cubes that we load it with) and has camped out in front of it for maximum cooling.