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Sophia - "Kwai-Kwai"

A Good Dog Always Comes Home When You Call...

This article is dedicated with much love to to Vicki Lynn, founder of Asians for Humans, Animals & Nature and to the wonderful woman in Taiwan who worked so hard to rescue and re home Sophia - "Kwai Kwai" - and her brother.

Although this is about my sweet puppy, Sophia, originally named Kwai Kwai, Chinese for "Good girl" it starts out with her predecessor, Jessica, a very beloved Irish Wolfhound I was forced to put down on June 30th, 2004 at the age of 20 months.
(see her story here: .

Very soon after I put Jessie to sleep, I had to drive 8 hours to a hoof care clinic in Oregon. I was scheduled to help good friends Cheryl & John, and I was so stunned by Jessie's death that I needed a diversion to keep my mind off of the loss of Jess and immediately before her, Riley, a rescued ridgeback.

I played a key role at the clinic, and I hoped I'd find some comfort amongst my friends. The drive was one long hard cry; for the first time in over a year and a half, I was alone. Jessica, my constant companion, was gone. I went about doing what needed to be done woodenly.

That evening, my host, John , came over and talked with me about Jessica. I had kept my composure, nobody knew what I was experiencing until I told them, but John is a true dog lover and knew how much I needed someone to talk to. I told him that I didn't know how I'd manage without Jessie. Our lives had become so intertwined; I loved her so very, very much, and it felt as if my child had died. I've lost many dear friends in this life, and so while I can cope with loss, this was a very hard one.

John has a deep spirituality. He shook his head, listening to me, took a deep breath and sighed, "You're going to think this is crazy, Linda, but I'm going to tell you anyway. I've had a lot of wonderful dogs, but several dogs were extremely special, were family to me, losing them was like losing a person, a best friend. Losing people is hard, and losing a good dog can be just as hard. But dogs, those special dogs, come back home when you call them." He looked me in the eye.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and thought he'd misunderstood. "John, she's dead. She can't come home."

John continued on "Well, most people don't think they can, but I've had it happen with several dogs, myself, so I know it happens. You have to have faith, remember her frequently, keep her energy alive, keep her thoughts alive, talk about her, look for her, and when the time is right, she'll find you." I was skeptical but more than willing to try to believe it, I've had some odd experiences, and John shrugged saying that of course I was skeptical, but there was no harm in trying, in praying... if it didn't work, only he and I would know.

He cautioned me to call her back as she deserves to be, healthy and happy, and suggested I visualize her the way I'd want her to be ideally.

So I did as John suggested, I tried to have faith. I looked for her in rescue lists and online, I talked to her when I needed someone to comfort me, I put up a web site memorial, told people her story, met dozens of folks who owned Irish Wolfhounds.

I kept her energy alive.

Kwai Kwai & Asians for Humans Animals and Nature

In May of 2006, a friend and client whose Wolfhound had died and who had her name on several puppy lists, discussed the difficulty in finding a puppy with me. I expressed how much I still missed Jessica, even though almost 2 years had passed. I would see one of her toys or take my newly rescued German Shepard Zeus for a walk, and sorrow would wash over me. I never got over losing her.

So this friend suggested that I get on a puppy list myself, start to look for her again. I told her that the big problem was that I didn't want a full blooded Wolfhound, but I did want the Wolfie face, coat and personality. We laughed over several Jessie stories and she encouraged me kindly to go home and check out Petfinders, just in case.

Sophie, Summer 2006


Kwai Kwai (Sophia), February 2006


April 29, 2006, the day after
Kwai Kwai / Sophia arrived in SF

All the way home Jessie was on my mind... When I looked to the passenger side of the truck, her spirit always seemed to sit, guarding me, wishing I was happier. I had almost given up on finding my special dog through Petfinders; most of the Wolfie's listed there, when there were any, were mature adults living in Texas or on the east coast.

Johns comment that Jessie would come back haunted me, too; I looked for Jessie, so the dog I sought had to be young, if it would be Jessie or sent by Jessie. I believed it, even as I laughed at myself for doing so, dog reincarnation is a bit much for my scientific sensibilities.

When I got home, I sat down on the couch with my laptop, went to PetFinders and searched for Wolfhounds.

Kwai Kwai's picture - my Sophia - was at the top of the list, looking out at me through Jessica's eyes.

A friend walked by as I was looking at it, noticed the picture and commented "Oh, is that a picture of Jessica?" No, I said, this dogs name was Kwai Kwai, she was listed as a full blooded Wolfhound and was offered for adoption by Asians for Humans, Animals & Nature . He looked at me puzzled "Are you sure it isn't Jessie? It looks just like her. I guess the color is different, but that really looks like her."

I never said anything to him about Johns "call your dog home" advice, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I began to read this Kwai Kwai's bio with apprehension... and... she seemed too good to be true. Not only did she look like Jessie in the eyes and face, there were other similarities to Jessica that were haunting and erie. I knew I had to rescue this dog.

In Taiwan, adoption photo

In Taiwan, adoption photo

Kwai Kwai's profile, written by her rescuer in Taiwan

Sex: f
Breed: Irish Woolfhound
Age: 8 months
Weight: 50 lbs.

I rescued Kwai-Kwai from a dog shelter, from certain death. That day, I visited the Taoyuan dog shelter looking for a friend’s dog. Instead, what I found stunned me.

In one cage marked “Puppy Area”, I saw several dead puppies, some of them already had flies and maggots crawling over their tiny corpses. Inside the cage, were several puppies less than 1 month, still alive but crawling weakly amongst this unsanitary environment.

When the caretaker was not looking, I opened the cage door and let the puppies out. I begged the caretaker to do something about the dead puppies and clean the cage but the caretaker said it was not his job and the dead puppies would have to wait till Monday for the vet to come.

Out of desperation, I told him that I was willing to take away and bury the dead puppies, to which he happily agreed.

Looking at the puppies walking around in the sun, I was saddened that I could only take care of the healthiest looking two, which I named Kwai-Kwai and Bu-Bu. Bu-Bu has already found a loving home but Kwai-Kwai is still waiting for her family.

Kwai-Kwai is a very special dog, very loyal and loving, with those doleful eyes. She will overcome all obstacles just to get to my side. She reminds me of a child seeking attention and love, if I am watching TV she will come to me and strive for my attention. A pat on the head will satisfy her. She is full of energy and loves to run around and will be well suited to a family with a yard.

After being rescued from the animal shelter, Kwai-Kwai was found to have Ehrilichiosis and Babesiosis, she also had a broken leg but after months of therapy, she is now healthy and there are no signs of her previous ailments.

My wish now is for Kwai-Kwai to live a healthy and happy life for all the other puppies who are still at the shelter.

If you interested in adopted Kwai-Kwai, please click 'ADOPT' and it will link you to our online application

Applying for adoption

The similarities were mind numbing. After I rapidly filled out and submitted the application, I took a deep breath, and wrote AHAN founder Vicky Lynn a personal email dragging out every vet friend and dog advocate I had as references. I had the perfect home,I said, offered the perfect life for this dog (it was true). I tried not to sound desperate about being selected. I sent her my Jessica web page and asked her to read it. I waited about 10 minutes after sending the follow up email, picked up the phone and made a call, essentially begging to be considered for this young dogs adopter.


This pup had Jessica's eyes, her personality. She was born the same month as Jessica, but two years later. Kwai Kwai had Ehrilichiosis and Babesiosis, plus a broken leg as a pup, and Jessica's health problems were a result of an Ehrilichiosis infection that was incorrectly diagnosed for 2 months, and an associated undiagnosed Babesiosis infection that was later determined to be the cause of her ongoing bowel disease. Jessie had also broken a leg as a puppy. Both dogs had endured long periods of illness. Kwai Kwai's story resonated with me, so I abandoned my skepticism and crossed my fingers. Maybe prayers about lost dogs do get answered.

Vicky got back in touch with me by email the next day, then we connected by phone. My heart dropped when she said that she had already selected several excellent candidates for the adoption, that they all looked very promising but she had been unable to make up her mind as to who would get Kwai Kwai for several days. As she hadn't made up her mind, she would consider my application.

After our talk and seeing Jessica's web site, she quietly stated that perhaps the reason she wasn't able to make up her mind between the potential homes was, she said "Because maybe Kwai Kwai is your dog. maybe she is waiting for you."

My heart sang!

We scheduled a home visit to check out our place, which I passed with flying colors; I live on 11 acres, have 3 horses, another dog, a cat, 6 koi, a rescued Umbrella cockatoo, a Severe Macaw and pet chickens... its a paradise for animals.

Vicky approved my application and scheduled Kwai Kwai's flight. She said I would need to pick up Kwai Kwai from San Francisco Airport, and asked me to commit to fostering her until they found a home if I decided we didn't want her. I wasn't to meet Sophia until I had custody of her.

I *knew* I would want her' in my heart, I knew exactly who this dog was. That still surprises me, because I've rescued and fostered many dozen dogs myself, and have preferences about the animals I choose to be my closest friends. I knew who she was from the moment I saw her face in the adoption picture. I called Vicky back later that week to ask where Kwai Kwai was flying in from. "Taiwan! Didn't you know, she's from Taiwan." Wow. I went back and reread her bio. That hadn't mattered.

On April 28th, Vicky and I went to SFO Airport together to pick up several dogs in crates destined for loving homes in the US. I recognized Kwai Kwai's bark even though we couldn't see her. It wasn't a typical Wolfhound bark. "That's my Kwai Kwai." I stated, "Yes, it probably is." Vicky replied. Her piercing and needy bark reminded me of a friends Border Collies piercing bark as it reverberated through the SFO airport terminal. She started barking as we drove up, and made a huge fuss in her crate trying to get out. We bonded immediately. Kwai Kwai was thrilled to be my dog, and I was just as delighted to be her human. She had a brief bit of jet lag and then slid into her new home as if she knew what it was going to be like all along.

Vicky Lynn and AHAN devote themselves to raising awareness about the needless cruelty that we humans carelessly bestow on other species, from egg laying and pig factories to the horrible practice of keeping bears to extract the essence of their gall for traditional chinese medicine. They go out of their way to find good homes for cats and dogs, saving animals from Asia, where animal abuse is all too common, as well as re-homing dogs here in the US. Founder Vicky Lynn has a heart of gold, and needs all the help she can get from people like us, who recognize her efforts.

As for the Taiwanese woman who rescued Sophia and then offered her for adoption? I don't know her name, but she is always in my heart. The small dog she rescued and named Kwai Kwai means more to me than she ever would have hoped. She's still a very demanding girl, she knows she has the run of the house and ultimate power over our hearts, and... we love that about her. If you are reading this, thank you for your love and generous spirit. I pay it back to the world every chance I get.

Sophia's life now

I nicknamed her "Sophia" because it fit her, although I still call her Kwai Kwai (which is essentially "Good Girl" in Chinese) when she is a bad girl. She fit into my life exactly as I expected; the two of us bonded instantaneously, as if we had known each other forever, and she demanded the love and attention of all the other critters in our home, just as her rescuer said she would. She was a little anxious about being left alone at first, so I kept her with me as I went to visit clients as a hoof care provider, and she quickly became my regular work partner.

It seemed like she had always been with me, and while she reminds me of Jessie, she has a different way about her too. She's her own individual. She has a lot of fun, where Jessie had just as much pain as she had great days. Are they the same spirit? Did Jessica "send" me Sophia? It really doesn't matter. I needed more Jessie-like love in my life, and the Universe provided it. I was over protective in some ways when I first got Sophia, couldn't tolerate anyone being too hard on her; she still seemed too good to be true, and I didn't know if I'd get another chance if I lost her. If Sophia wasn't Jessica, part 2, she was so much like Jessica that it didn't matter. I felt like I was loving, and being loved by, the same dog.

Sophia looks quite a bit like a Wolfhound but is an obvious cross. My first guess was that Dad was a border collie, because she has a border collie intelligence and movement, her tail is more like a Border Collies, her feet are dainty, like a collies and her bark? Definitely a border collie bark when she wants her way. When there are critters outside at night, her voice takes on that throaty Wolfhound bark, but her "baby bark" is the high pitched yip of that tiny tough working dog. She's the perfect size, too. I love her dearly... hard to tell, huh?


With a personality and confidence exactly like Jessica's, Sophia is the loving puppy in every crowd, demanding attention from everyone as if its her right. She gets along great with all of our menagerie; she loves swimming with the Koi in the Koi pond and scooting after the chickens and cats,but the chasing is all in fun. She's still a puppy. My 6 year old rescued German Shepard, Zeus is her very best friend, and the two wrestle over toys and chase each other all day long. Sophie loves swimming, and is wet even in the winter. The consolation is that she's always fairly clean as well! There are pictures of her in the pool (before it got its spring cleaning) below, where she'll swim for 30 to 40 minutes at a time chasing water spiders. Zeus loves to swim too, but is afraid of the pool. Sophie will taunt him with his favorite toys, balls, before tossing them in the pool and splashing in after them.

Jessica used to spontaneously join me in the shower or tub, and this is something Sophia tries regularly as well; none of the other dogs I've had have done this. They both toss toys high in the air, then leap up to catch them, are both unusually playful with toys, and again, these two, out of the many dogs I've shared my life with have the exact same type of play. They are both very alpha dogs but in a flirting and non confrontational way. Jessie liked to sit as close to me in the car as possible, being on the lookout for anything that might need her attention, and Sophia has the same approach to being my co-pilot. The similarities go on and on.

Sophia has more toys than she needs, and loves to go shopping for more;Jessica loved to shop and adored getting dressed in costumes... so does Sophia. We buy toys for the parrots and cats a lot too, and she's just as happy to be looking around for them as for herself and Zeus, her German Shepherd friend. Our third canine, Susanna,believes she is a small human repackaged in a pomeranian body, and prefers gourmet snacks to toys.

We drive through San Francisco on a regular basis, and Sophia searches each Asian face, looking for the face of her beloved Taiwanese rescuer... I know she thinks about her, and I'm sure she misses her, but she's a very happy girl here is Sonoma County California.

Life is good again.

Sophia rests after reading one of her favorite authors, Rita Mae Brown and her co-author, Sneaky Pie Brown.
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