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Book Review: Sophie, The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog


Once upon a time, you had living room furniture that wasn’t covered in fur.

It wasn’t scuffed by paw prints or mashed down from repeated turn-before-laying-down rotations. Before your couch pup-tato claimed that couch, the cushions were firm, not flat, and were acceptable for guests.

Still, can you blame Poochie for taking over your sofa? You’d hate having to lie around on the floor all day, too.

So how surprised would you be if Fido pulled a Phelps by performing a swimming feat that still astounds experts?  Read about a dog that did, in the new book “Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog” by Emma Pearse.

Perhaps more than anything in the world, sixteen-year-old Bridget Griffith wanted a dog of her own.

During her breaks at work, she’d been eyeing a litter of cattle dog puppies in the window of a shop near her Mackay, Australia, home. It was hard not to fall in love with them, so when Bridget brought her mother around to see the pups, the teen knew Mum couldn’t possibly say no.

And so it was that Sophie went home with them that day.

From almost the beginning, Sophie proved herself to be a clever, affectionate dog. She loved being carried, cuddled, and cooed over, spending hours on Bridget’s lap. When the teen went off to university a few months after Sophie’s arrival, the dog transferred her adoration to Bridget’s parents, who doted on the pooch.

Given the love that Jan and Dave Griffith lavished on the smallest member of the family, it was natural that they would take her everywhere. Sophie loved car rides and walks, and since she was definitely a “water dog,” the Griffiths took her on their boat as they cruised around the small islands just off the Australian coast. But in late October 2008, what should’ve been a fun excursion turned horrible when Sophie fell overboard.

Dave Griffith didn’t notice that Sophie was gone for a critical few minutes. He hollered to Jan, who scanned the horizon as, heartbroken, they cruised the area in search of their pup.

But Sophie was gone.

Several days later, residents of the Whitsunday Islands reported seeing a dog in spots where, because of environmental concerns, dogs weren’t allowed. Though no one could get close enough to it, the animal appeared to be a cattle dog…

What would you do if your dog went missing?

In author Emma Pearse’s hands, there’s a happy ending to this miraculous lost-dog tale – although I had some issues. Through anecdotes, we’re made abundantly aware that Sophie was an immeasurably important part of the Griffith family – and that becomes quite repetitive. There are also a few Aussie colloquialisms that don’t immediately translate well (“nurse” has very different meaning Down Under).

I’m pretty sure, though, that most dog lovers won’t be bothered much by either of these things – so if that’s you, why not just grab “Sophie,” shove your couch pup-tato over, and settle in for a decent read?

It is, after all, your sofa, too.

Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog
by Emma Pearse
c.2012, Da Capo Lifelong Books          
$25.00 / $29.00 Canada                  
320 pages

For more dog-related books, check out the reviews below:

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