SOPHIE

The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog

Emma Pearse

Merle’s Door meets the Daily Coyote in this extraordinary story of a dog’s journey back to her family. Sophie Tucker, a three-year-old Australian blue heeler, goes overboard into the predator infested waters of the Great Barrier Reef, and Sophie’s heartbroken family has given her up for lost; little do they know that Sophie swam six miles to an isolated nature preserve called St. Bees—where she survived unassisted for five months by living off the land. The story of her survival and rescue is nothing short of miraculous.

Journalist Emma Pearse delves into Sophie’s story and re-creates the accident and Sophie’s improbable journey.

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Merle’s Door meets the Daily Coyote in this extraordinary story of a dog’s journey back to her family. Sophie Tucker, a three-year-old Australian blue heeler, goes overboard into the predator infested waters of the Great Barrier Reef, and Sophie’s heartbroken family has given her up for lost; little do they know that Sophie swam six miles to an isolated nature preserve called St. Bees—where she survived unassisted for five months by living off the land. The story of her survival and rescue is nothing short of miraculous.

Journalist Emma Pearse delves into Sophie’s story and re-creates the accident and Sophie’s improbable journey. Pearse tells the story from the perspectives of Sophie, her family, and the scientists on St. Bees who found her. Interwoven with research on the emotional lives of animals and interviews with animal experts, including Temple Grandin, Sophie offers undeniable proof about the unbreakable animal-human bond. Heartwarming, riveting, and inspirational, Sophie is an unbelievable story of the resilience of the human—and animal—spirit.

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  • Da Capo Lifelong Books
  • Hardcover
  • January 2012
  • 272 Pages
  • 9780738214672

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$25.00

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About Emma Pearse

Emma Pearse is an Australian journalist who has written for numerous publications including New York magazine, the Village Voice, the Financial Times, Slate.com, and Salon.com. She lives in New York City.

Praise

“This story of canine loyalty and the power of human-animal relationships is as charming as its blue-furred heroine. A treat for dog lovers.”Kirkus Reviews

“It was amazing how this dog swam to a remote island and survived to be reunited with her family. All dog lovers should read this wonderful book.”Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human

“This emotionally uplifting saga of a Queensland, Australia, family who lost overboard their beloved blue heeler dog, Sophie, while on a weekend boating trip reflects the strength and loyal spirit of these people and canines….Animal lovers and survival story enthusiasts will enjoy this riveting, true store, told with strong local flavor.”Library Journal

“A tender, delightful story of how a cosseted pup turned into a hardy, intrepid—and very lucky—‘supercanine,’ this book will endear itself to dog and adventure lovers everywhere.”Publishers Weekly

Discussion Questions

Dave and Jan believed “that childhood and family life were better with dogs.” Would you agree, and why?

 

Did any of Sophie’s personality traits or habits remind you of dogs you have owned? Like what?

 

What effect did Sophie have on Dave and Jan once they became empty-nesters? Can you relate to their experience in your own life? How so?

 

Do you think Dave and Jan let their feelings get in the way of their judgment in bringing Sophie on the boat?

 

What do you think of Dave and Jan’s decision not to alert the authorities about Sophie’s disappearance? What would you have done if you were in their situation?

 

Did Dave and Jan’s reaction to Sophie’s disappearance surprise you considering they had said that “they had always loved their dogs, but they were not sentimental”?

 

Did you think it was a good idea so soon after Sophie’s disappearance to give Dave and Jan a new puppy?  How did the new puppy, Ruby, impact the Griffith family, and how did she differ from Sophie in their eyes? And do you think it made it easier or harder for them to cope with the loss of Sophie?

 

Why do you think Sophie was able to survive in the open ocean and for five months on the islands of Keswick and St. Bees? Is it explained, as Australian vet, Rob McMahon says, by the fact that it “would take a dog as tough as a cattle dog to do it,” or could there be some other explanation? 

 

Was Jan’s sense of Sophie’s being alive when Dave and she were on St. Bees just wishful thinking, or was it a premonition?

 

Why do you think Sophie chose not to respond when several people who lived on the island, including Peter Berck, offered her food and companionship? Do you think it was out of loyalty to the Griffith family, as suggested in the book?

 

How did Sophie’s extraordinary return home affect the relationships between members of the Griffith family—Dave, Jan, Bridget, Luke, and Ellen? 

 

Have you ever experienced or heard of a similar story of a dog or any pet overcoming tremendous adversity?

 

What does this story say about the bond between pets and their owners?