Owner seeks mother of miniature dachshund killed in W. Jordan fire

Jul 13 2012 - 12:17pm

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Contributed photo 
Curtis Johnson is trying to find the mother, Gretchen (shown), of his miniature dachshund Sophie that was killed in a house fire in West Jordan in June.
Contributed photo 
Curtis Johnson is trying to find the mother, Gretchen, of his miniature dachshund Sophie that was killed in a house fire in West Jordan in June.
Contributed photo 
Curtis Johnson is trying to find the mother, Gretchen (shown), of his miniature dachshund Sophie that was killed in a house fire in West Jordan in June.
Contributed photo 
Curtis Johnson is trying to find the mother, Gretchen, of his miniature dachshund Sophie that was killed in a house fire in West Jordan in June.

How much love can a 10-pound dog inspire?

For Curtis Johnson, enough to fill a pretty big heart. He has only to point to Sophie, his miniature dachshund.

All members of this pint-sized breed are endearing, Johnson said. "I just love them, with their stubby little legs and their personalities."

But Sophie, well, she was particularly cuddly.

"She'd lie up by your neck," Johnson said, "and give you a hug."

So, how much grief is left by the death of such a small creature?

Enough that Johnson has embarked on a mission to find a family member of his beloved Sophie, who died June 23 in a West Jordan house fire.

Johnson's search has led him to the Ogden area, where he believes the owner of Sophie's mother lives. His greatest hope is for a pup from a new litter born to Sophie's mother.

"I loved Sophie so incredibly much," Johnson said. "I don't want to replace her, but I want the closest thing to her that I can get. I understand her mother and father are in the state, so the best thing is to try and find them."

Sophie looked much like her mother -- both with silver dapple coloring. Sophie's silverish coat was marked with large black spots; brown points defined her nose and paws. About 18 inches long, Sophie stood a tall 6 inches at the shoulders.

All Johnson has to work on is information from the breeder that the dachshund mother was sold to a family in Northern Utah. However, later information from the breeder indicated the dog may have been sold in Wyoming. Johnson remembers the mother's name was Gretchen.

The father, who was used in a stud service, is believed to be from Sandy, Johnson said.

The fire that killed Sophie and two cats was sparked in a nearby field after a tree toppled onto a power pole. The fast-moving, wind-blown fire jumped across Johnson's backyard and destroyed his West Jordan home, along with the house next door.

At the time, Johnson was at his job as an industrial mechanic. A neighbor called him with the news that homes on the street were aflame.

"I said, 'What can I do to help?' and 'Whose house is on fire?' " he said. Yours, the neighbor told him.

Johnson arrived home just as firefighters were finishing extinguishing the blaze. He tried to get firefighters' attention to ask about the animals in the house.

"But that wasn't their concern -- their concern was keeping the rest of the neighborhood safe," Johnson said.

Later on, he saw his wife walk toward him. "She was shaking her head, and I knew we'd lost our dog and cats," he said.

At final tally, 50 percent of the house was destroyed by flames; the rest was too smoke-damaged to recover.

Smoke inhalation killed Sophie and her two feline friends, Wagner and Lilly. Animal control officers removed the animals' bodies from the house.

"We got to hold them and say goodbye," Johnson said. "They looked like they were sleeping."

These days, Johnson is living out of a hotel room, meeting nearly daily with contractors to rebuild the house. The only part of the old house that will remain is the foundation.

Before long, the Johnsons will move into a rental home in Draper as they wait the estimated six to eight months before their West Jordan house is rebuilt.

Johnson knows it will be difficult to replace the year-and-a-half-old dachshund, who had learned such tricks as rolling over and dancing on her hind legs.

Johnson has started his search for the unknown owners of Sophie's mother, though he said he's not ready for another dog.

"I wanted to get the process started, so we have the right one," he said. He thinks he'll be ready to shower his love on a new pet about the time his house is rebuilt.

Anyone with information about the dog Johnson is looking for can email cityed@standard.net.

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