1992-1993 was a momentous year for me. I lost my mother, I bought my house, and Sophie came home. She was a Lab-Shepherd-mix mutt who came from the local animal shelter, and she was there for all the big events of my life.

She was there when an important relationship fell apart and I thought my heart would never heal. She looked at me with soulful
eyes as if to say, “It will be alright and life goes on.” And she was right, for someone new came into my life, whose friendship I treasure to this day.

She was there when, after 16 years with a company, my position
was unceremoniously eliminated. I was woefully unprepared to lose my job, and was filled with despair, fear, and self-doubt. She looked at me with wise eyes, as if to say, “It will be alright and life goes on.” And she was right, for I found a new job with a company I respect, working with people I love, and every day I count my blessings.

She was there when I went through menopause, when mood swings and bloating became a daily occurrence that far overshadowed
any monthly misery previously experienced. I thought I would never emerge from this black hole. She looked at me with patient and faithful eyes, as if to say, “It will be alright and life goes on.” And she was right, for I weathered the change with a strength I didn’t know I had and a resilience that makes me proud.

There is verifiable proof of the therapeutic value of the pets that share our lives and I learned many lessons from Sophie. I learned that chasing my tail is futile and only leads to dizziness. I learned that a power nap can do wonders for my energy level. I learned that picking a fight only leads to hard feelings and wastes time that could be better spent curled up with a special friend. I learned that good behaviour brings rewards, like kind words and a pat on the back. And most importantly, I learned that forgiveness should be swift and complete, for only then can you move on to the next game.

As she got older, Sophie developed the lumps and bumps and blemishes that come with age. She had a particularly ugly cyst that was perfectly centered in the middle of her forehead. One day when I was picking her up from the kennel after a business trip, there was a little girl in the lobby who was intrigued by this mark on Sophie’s head. Having had a vivid imagination at her age, I told her that I thought Sophie had been a unicorn in her previous life and as she was getting ready to go onto her next life, the horn was growing back. When I asked her what she thought, with the unquestionable faith and sheer wonder only a child possesses, she nodded in agreement.

2008-2009 was another momentous year for me. I lost my father, I paid off my house, and Sophie went home. I believe there is every possibility that she is a unicorn now, for there was indeed magic in that dog. And though her loss is deeply felt, I remember loving eyes reminding me that, “It will be alright and life goes on.”


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