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Sophie, the one-eared rescue pooch

Updated on May 30, 2015
Sophie's shelter photo.
Sophie's shelter photo.

Meet Sophie VanGough!

Sophie is a German Shepherd who only has one ear! She was adopted from the humane society when she was about six months old. I first saw her photo online. I was so excited to find such a beautiful shepherd! I raced to the animal shelter to see her. I was very surprised to find that she only had one ear! I took her home and to match her personality, gave her the most kind, gentle name I could think of. Sophie.

She would like to tell her own story, so her blog will be in her own words... this little diary was kept by Sophie over a six year period. I pulled it all together, here, so others could hear her story.

My First Days Home


Hi! My name is Sophie. I am a 6 month old German Shepherd who was adopted from the humane society.

This is a picture of me that was taken at the humane society and posted on their Web site.

The Kansas Humane Society is a very up-to-date shelter. Not many online actually show pictures of adoptable animals. Even less actually keep their pages updated on a daily basis. Every night at midnight, the site is updated to show the new animals who all need homes.

My new owner, Paula, had been watching the site since April just waiting for the right animal to show up. She saw this picture of me and came down to visit me and the other animals Oct. 5th. She came back the next day at lunchtime and visited me outside of my pen.

The humane society people even let her get other dogs out to see how I would react to them because there were already two adult dogs at my new home. I was curious but very polite.

Adopting me took up 2 hours of Paula's lunch time so she had to go straight back to work. Luckily her job is "dog friendly" and allows employees to bring dogs up there anytime they want. I spent the afternoon sleeping next to my new owner's desk. I was very tired after my stressful day of being in the noisy shelter and then being introduced to everyone at Paula's job.

At my new home I have a great big yard. When Paula first took me out and let me go in the yard I looked at her and asked, "is this all for ME?" then I bounded off across the yard, around the fence line and back to her where I jumped up and put my paws on her shoulders. My new owner looked very surprised at how tall I am when I stand up.

I promptly sneezed in her face then got down and danced around for a bit.

A Little About Me

As you can see from the picture, I am missing my left ear. The people at the Humane Society told Paula that a malamute ripped my ear off when I was really little. I don't remember much about it since I was so young.

Evidently my last owners were breeders of Malamutes as well as German Shepherds. Paula thinks that when my ear was ripped off, my last owners decided that no one would want to buy me even though I am AKC registered so they took me to the humane society. Those people told the humane society that I didn't get along with the other puppies and they needed to get rid of me. Paula doesn't believe that because I am very quiet and well mannered.

Paula chose a very soft, delicate name for me based on just that fact... oh, and the VanGough part you can probably figure out on your own. :P

Some Favorite (Indestructible) Toys!

Livin' The Life - 11/11/00

Well I have been at my new home for a month now. Things are going great. I tend to get into trouble every now and then when I get bored and start finding things to do. Paula tries really hard to let me know when I have done something wrong...after she tells me "NO!" she shows me things I am allowed to play with.

I discovered that Paula's favorite chair is REALLY comfy. That's where I sleep at night after everyone goes to bed. Paula took this picture of me the first time she found me in her chair.

Not Feeling Well


Well, for the last two days I have not been able to get up and walk on my own. It is quite painful to try, and if I do make it up onto my feet I am just in great pain when I walk. Paula tried massaging my legs and it seemed to help some, but she took me to the vet today. They pulled on my legs and that hurt quite a bit. Then they gave me a morphine shot and took me off for xrays. Within about 20 minutes the vet told Paula that I have hip displaysia. Paula expected that but hoped for other news. For now I will be on Rimadyl to see if that makes life easier for me, but it is possible I will have to have hip replacement surgery in the future. The vet said for me not to do any fast exercise.. to take it easy and not overdo it.. if I do any real exercise it should be swimming. Paula cried a bit. She feels so bad for me since I am only 2 years old and already have been diagnosed with a problem that will limit my activity for the rest of my life.

Feeling Better


Some incredible changes have occurred in these past few months. Paula found a new vet for me to see and he put me on a combination of steroids and antibiotics. In just a few weeks I gained 25 pounds and am feeling WONDERFUL! The vet is not certain exactly what was wrong with me, but since this treatment is working, we aren't asking too many questions. My hip problems even seemed to go away!

Soon I will be weaned off of the steroids.. I'll keep you posted.

BIG Improvement! - 02/2003

I am fininshed with my first round of steroids. WOW did they ever save my life! The vet is frustrated that he never did come up with a diagnosis for me, but I feel so much better I don't care! After a round of antibiotics and steroids I will now go see Dr. Bill next week. Last time I went I found out I had gained 25 pounds! I feel so good that I have started going for walks again and I can now climb the stairs inside the house.



I saw Dr. Bill today.. I am up to 87 pounds now!!! Back in November I weighed in at 50 pounds!!

Here are some before and after photos of me.. Pretty impressive!

Been Busy Being a Healthy Dog - May 04, 2004

Hello everyone, sorry I haven't been updating much, but you should know I am doing really great. Paula moved us to an apartment where I don't have very much room to run around, but we take several walks outside during the day so I can visit a nearby field.

I am still on the Prednisone, but instead of every day, I take it twice a week. This has allowed me to regain some of my *blush* bladder control *blush* which makes Paula pretty darned happy. No more trash bags in the back seat of the car.

My weight is at 110 pounds and Dr. Bill says I should work on getting rid of a few of those pounds now. He says I am getting a belly on me. I don't know, what do you think? I've heard good things about Atkins. Lots of meat, eggs and cheese sounds pretty yummie to me! Paula has been trying to get some photos of me and she finally got one that I like, so I thought I'd show it off to you all.

Love to Travel - July 2004

We visited Paula's mom's house in Oklahoma this summer. I like going to the lake and tasting the cold water.

Being Lazy is Good, Too

I really enjoy simply lying around the house. I try to stay near Paula's feet so she can reach down and pet me if she needs to.

A Friend to All

Nah, kittens aren't so bad... the only problem with kittens is that they grow up to be CATS!

Missing My "Soapy"

March 2006 - Sad News from Paula

A Note From Paula:

During a visit at my mom's in Oklahoma, in May, Sophie came up missing. I sent out 45 letters to area shelters, police departments and veterinarians and I received no response.

My heart is broken - I can only hope that Sophie was taken in by someone who was able and willing to love her and who was able to have her diagnosed so she could get back on her meds. Sophie will not survive without her meds.

I love and miss you my "Soapy Dog."


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    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      What a sad ending for you but hopefully not for Sophie. I have lost pets because of thunder storms but fortunately got them back again. I hope she is returned to you.

    • PaulaBurke LM profile image

      PaulaBurke LM 6 years ago

      Thank you for your kind thoughts. It makes me wish I would have put information on her tag about what meds she was on.. just in case someone took her on purpose and didn't want to call the phone number to return her, at least they wouldn't have had to let her get sick again for not knowing how to treat her when the symptoms came back. Thanks again!

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Sprinkled with angeldust this memorial weekend. I hope the story ended with her finding a caring home and getting her meds. One can only hope....