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"MY DOG SOPHY" by Thomas Monahan
December 26, 2007 8:08 AM   Subscribe

"MY DOG SOPHY" by Thomas Monahan This boy, 9, died in a house fire while attempting to rescue his dog Sophie. This article contains a scan the book he wrote for his companion. Devastating.
posted by lilboo (63 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by briank at 8:12 AM on December 26, 2007


.,.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:14 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do not be sad, take joy is this tribute to the depth of the human experience.
posted by Area Control at 8:25 AM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Jesus that's heartbreaking.
posted by djeo at 8:27 AM on December 26, 2007


I hope that I can live and die as honestly as Thomas Monahan did.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:51 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tragic loss for humans and dogs both. That boy would have grown up to rescue a lot of dogs.
posted by vito90 at 8:57 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:58 AM on December 26, 2007


..
posted by moonbird at 9:02 AM on December 26, 2007


Ugh. Heartwrenching.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:11 AM on December 26, 2007


When I was 9 years old a classmate of mine, who was in the same general friendgroup, drowned in a pool. It took me years to understand what had happened, what death was. I still don't fully understand, probably never will.

The boy I knew was an intelligent kid, but not a smartass about it like me and most of my friends. I sometimes wonder what he would be like today.

The tag sums up what I feel right about now. I wept.

Also, what was that final "moral" sting about in the linked article? Why the need to wring some sort of lesson out of a senseless event?
posted by Kattullus at 9:13 AM on December 26, 2007


If there were any fairness is this mortal realm, Thomas should have had many more years to brush up on spelling and grammar.

Not sure why they kept going on about his spelling. He was EIGHT.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:21 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sad? Yes. Exploitative? Yes, that too.
posted by psmealey at 9:21 AM on December 26, 2007


So the kid and his dog both died in the fire. Why in God's name would you post this?
posted by The Bellman at 9:34 AM on December 26, 2007


Why in God's name would you post this?

The boy won the 2007 Super Author Award. Show some goddamn respect.

P.S. This is a good post.
posted by dhammond at 9:46 AM on December 26, 2007 [8 favorites]


He had the heart of a champion.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:53 AM on December 26, 2007


I feel for the parents. They didn't deserve this. But like they say the good die young so they can be with God.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:14 AM on December 26, 2007


Here's a fun activity: show this story to your partner / friend / coworker. But you've got to convert it into a narrative. First show the book cover, and then tell about the story the kid wrote, and how much he loved his doggy.

Eventually, after a few "Ah, how cute" type comments, the other person will go "And so what? is this your nephew or something? What's the big deal?"

And then you try to give them the money shot without breaking into deranged giggling. I tried and failed, and I guess that makes me a bad person.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:14 AM on December 26, 2007 [18 favorites]


Crushing.
posted by boo_radley at 10:34 AM on December 26, 2007


I want to make a Lassie joke here. Something about the dog writing a book after running in the house to save little Tommy. Were I to write this joke, it would be witty and urbane, and it would surely take your mind off of the crushing depressing feeling you might get after reading a story about a book a kid wrote about his sick dog, before dying while trying to save it.

So let's just pretend I wrote that great joke, and we now all feel better.

Ok?
posted by quin at 10:54 AM on December 26, 2007


Oh god how absolutely heartbreaking.


(crying at work is totally awesome)
posted by banannafish at 10:58 AM on December 26, 2007


In other news lots more people died in Indonesian mudslides. But they didn't write cute books about dogs. And they were a long way away.
posted by rhymer at 10:58 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


In other news lots more people died in Indonesian mudslides. But they didn't write cute books about dogs. And they were a long way away.

I think I get what you're saying, but sympathy and sadness are not zero-sum games.
posted by facetious at 11:02 AM on December 26, 2007 [15 favorites]


I read about this boy right after he died and was brought to tears. This did it again.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:03 AM on December 26, 2007


We need to have little Tommy Monahan's book pubished. God must have had this in mind when he took Tommy to be with him.

Yes, quite. God kills eight year old boys with fire, their flesh bubbling off their bones as the acrid smoke fills their lungs, so that they can have their grade three scribblings published.

Because He is, above all, a God that Cares.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:18 AM on December 26, 2007 [20 favorites]


Somehow, I blame the dog.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:23 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


In other news lots more people died in Indonesian mudslides. But they didn't write cute books about dogs. And they were a long way away.

Well, rhymer, as my Uncle Joe used to say: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is just a statistic.

Factor in the cute book about dogs, and it's really no contest.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:26 AM on December 26, 2007


Atom eyes, you are of course quite right and what's more, dead Indonesians very rarely have Apple pie homilies written about them by columnists who appear to be moonlighting from jobs at Hallmark.
posted by rhymer at 11:33 AM on December 26, 2007


I don't believe that I'm being cynical when I write this, but I really despise this kind of shit. It takes what was a very, very private and gut wrenching tragedy, amps up the volume and turns it into a public spectacle. Why is this proper, good or even news? Is anyone's life enriched for the knowledge of this tale? Or is it just that we're all so numb that we need to be exposed to someone else's heartbreak in order to feel something more than the nothingness we all feel on a daily basis?

Ok. That was cynical
posted by psmealey at 11:39 AM on December 26, 2007 [14 favorites]


In other news lots more people died in Indonesian mudslides. But they didn't write cute books about dogs.

Yeah, I hate the goddam Indonesians too. Lousy dog-hating bastards.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2007


Or is it just that we're all so numb that we need to be exposed to someone else's heartbreak in order to feel something more than the nothingness we all feel on a daily basis?

I'm pretty cool with feeling nothingness on a daily basis.
posted by rhymer at 11:54 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I hate the goddam Indonesians too. Lousy dog-hating bastards.

That's not fair, Quidnunc. It depends entirely on how they're cooked. (In this case, char-broiled with a side of nine-year-old. Yum?)
posted by The Bellman at 12:02 PM on December 26, 2007


1 oz Arrack
1 oz Kahlua
1 oz Bailey's
1 oz cream

Shake all ingredients with ice and pour over ice in an old-fashioned glass.

Hmm. Doesn't sound too deadly.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:02 PM on December 26, 2007


:-
posted by AwkwardPause at 12:02 PM on December 26, 2007


Sickeningly crass.
posted by ssg at 12:21 PM on December 26, 2007


Did anybody else get totally spooked at the crazy car video ad that pops up "Let all your dreams come true!"
posted by canine epigram at 1:01 PM on December 26, 2007


I wonder if that guy who eaten by a tiger wrote a cute book?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:11 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


A lot of people die for love.

In this case it was simply that between a young boy and his dog.
posted by konolia at 1:30 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


psmealey writes "I don't believe that I'm being cynical when I write this, but I really despise this kind of shit."

It's called human interest journalism, like the kind of story they run at the end of the local news, or in the society pages (or sometimes on the front page, if it's particularly tragic). Yeah, it's manipulative, but it's not new. Despite the fact that I know how and why these stories end up in the news, I still get pulled in by some of them, especially a boy and his dog stories (I always imagine my dog in the story, which makes it more painful). Can't help it.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:53 PM on December 26, 2007


P.S. I'll find my dog
who took my dog
who found my dog
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:10 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't believe that I'm being cynical when I write this, but I really despise this kind of shit. It takes what was a very, very private and gut wrenching tragedy, amps up the volume and turns it into a public spectacle.

I'm halfway with you on this, pmeasley. This kind of story pops up around the same time every year or so. It seems like lazy journalism to me (boy + dog + fire + death = gut-wrenching story and Pulitzer). Then the father in me kicks in. My daughter draws and spells like that. I can't help but be pulled into such a sad story and imagine myself in the parents shoes - how I'd react and how I'd make it through to the next day knowing that my flesh and blood is gone. I can't even imagine, to be honest. This seems like one of those pieces written to immortalize the kid. Maybe he felt it was his way of helping the parents cope. I can only theorize as to his ulterior motives. Either way, what a horrible, horrible story.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:16 PM on December 26, 2007


psmealey writes "I don't believe that I'm being cynical when I write this, but I really despise this kind of shit."

You'll understand when you're older.
posted by aftermarketradio at 2:18 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by mike3k at 2:26 PM on December 26, 2007


This is even sadder as I sit almost alone in my cubicle. I'm so sad, Thomas. Wherever you are, let there be Sophie.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:28 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I wonder what would happen if there were a fire in my apt and my dog was inside. Would I be willing to give up my own life to try and save hers? I'd like to think that I would as the alternative, spending the rest of my life wondering what her last moments were like, seems worse. But it's not. Not really. I am realistic enough to know that burning to death is a horrible way to day and I don't know that I would be willing to risk it to save an animal. That makes me feel like a shit but it's probably true. Of course, you never know until it happens and God forbid it ever does.

But at nine? I can say with near total certainty that at nine I would have run right into those flames to save my dog. The older I get the more fearful I get. I always thought it would be the opposite. At nine, you don't really know anything about burn treatment and smoke inhalation and death. Well, most nine year olds don't. All a nine-year-old really knows is that his friend is in trouble and needs saving. So that's what Thomas tried to do - save his friend, Sophie. Because that's what you do when you're nine and your friend is in trouble. Hope they're both in a better place now.
posted by LeeJay at 3:02 PM on December 26, 2007 [10 favorites]


Actually, most people die of smoke inhalation before the fire gets to them. It's not fun, but it's pretty fast (faster than just suffocating, because smoke is actively poisonous, and you're likely to lapse into unconsciousness after just a breath or two). All in all, I'd rather die from smoke inhalation that being burned alive any day.

Of course, if I am being given options, I'd rather die from too much good loving.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:09 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I pray that if I ever have to go in a fire, the smoke gets to me before the flames do.
posted by LeeJay at 3:26 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


(The cause of death was smoke inhalation, I looked it up.)

I like LeeJay's comment. To elaborate, this is really is one of those "loss of innocence" type stories. I think if the boy had decided not to rescue the dog, the outcome would be equally as bleak, at least as far as the kid was concerned. A no-win situation, and therein lies the tragedy.

And for what it's worth, it wasn't my intention to sensationalize the boy's death (or, for that matter, to submit his story for public insult and/or ridicule. I'm sorry for that. I just thought the book itself (not the article) lent a certain context to the whole situation - one that usually is not available to us outsiders.)
posted by lilboo at 4:09 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think if the boy had decided not to rescue the dog, the outcome would be equally as bleak, at least as far as the kid was concerned.

Well, speaking as a parent, I'd rather have my son alive and missing the holy hell out of his dog for the rest of his (hopefully very long) life than to make an emotional but ultimately fatal decision at the age of nine.
posted by John of Michigan at 4:20 PM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm so glad someone finally posted a cynical take on this. Of course a little boy dying in a house fire is tragic. But a newspaper article going on about his love for a dog? That same irrational love that got him killed? It's goulish, all the more so because it's saccharine.

Thanks for clearing up the smoke inhalation cause of death. I was wondering about the open casket funeral of the burn victim.
posted by Nelson at 4:26 PM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Well, speaking as a parent, I'd rather have my son alive and missing the holy hell out of his dog for the rest of his (hopefully very long) life than to make an emotional but ultimately fatal decision at the age of nine.

Absolutely. As would I. And I hope my comment didn't make anyone think otherwise. But the way you think when you're nine and the way you think when you're the parent of a child of nine is necessarily different. It's just a shame that there wasn't anyone to hold little Thomas back.
posted by LeeJay at 5:12 PM on December 26, 2007


Well, speaking as a parent, I'd rather have my son alive and missing the holy hell out of his dog for the rest of his (hopefully very long) life than to make an emotional but ultimately fatal decision at the age of nine.

Not only that, but I'm not sure I would ever shake the guilt at not being able to prevent him from running into the fire in the first place.
posted by dr_dank at 6:12 PM on December 26, 2007


Nelson writes "It's goulish"

That's the word I was looking for. (Well, I was actually looking for "ghoulish", but goulish is close enough.) It just doesn't sit right with me, selling ad impressions and newspapers with this story.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:16 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]



I wonder if that guy who eaten by a tiger wrote a cute book?


It was called "I love tiggy-wiggy". He spent all of his pension cheque each month to go to the zoo and feed raw hamsters to his special buddy.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:31 PM on December 26, 2007


People eat this crap up around Christmas. In the Hogfather adaptation that was posted a couple of days ago, there's a line where Albert tells Death that a little match-girl dying on Hogswatch is part of the traditions, because it makes everyone feel better about their lives by virtue of comparison. Once again, in his bleakly cynical way, Pratchett tells a truth that everyone thinks is a joke.

Of course, in Hogfather, Death DELIVERS A PITHY LINE and gives her more time. No such luck for Tommy and Sophy, who inhabit a universe tragically empty of anthropomorphic embodiments of concepts.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:05 PM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, when your heart's on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes

posted by null terminated at 7:39 PM on December 26, 2007


Yeah, it's manipulative and all that, but if it serves no other purpose than to let people know that there was a very caring and brave little boy called Thomas Monahan who loved his dog and laid his life on the line for her, and saved all his change so he could donate it to the humane society, that's good enough.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:10 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Someday my wife and I will die, and I hope that it isn't for a long time, and that my children (when they die) do so after long and healthy lives, and do so in their sleep without pain or awareness.

Ditto for my dogs, who (as much as I love them) I hope pass away before any of the rest of us, given their much shorter lifespan vs. human beings.

also: my kids never get to write books like this ever, because it will feel like foreshadowing and freak me the fuck out
posted by davejay at 12:45 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, as I see it... in a way isn't this comforting for his parents? He loved his dog. He died caring about something. Losing a child is tragic and excruciating, and I've seen it turn people into shells of their former selves. Often the worst part is the "how could this have happened" kind of thing, replaying over and over. There are often absolutely no answers no matter how many times it's asked. But this boy has given his parents a gift. He loved his dog. Plain and simple. It gives reason, it shows he was a good boy, a boy who made a choice and his parents have nothing to feel guilty for. So they have that to cling to instead of empty questions haunting them forever. It's a blessing as I see it.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:18 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


But at nine? I can say with near total certainty that at nine I would have run right into those flames to save my dog.

But at thirty one? I can say with near total certainty that at thirty one I would run right into those flames to save my dogs.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:02 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Same. I lit the kitchen on fire once by preheating the oven with something plastic inside. Oops. Anyway, you know how you always make those lists of important things that you couldn't ever forget if you were confronted with a fire? My laptop (that I had to take the bar exam on later in the month, that contained three years worth of law school studies), my important documents, my flute. Yeah. Forgot all that stuff. Grabbed the dog and ran. She's more important to me than any "stuff."
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:04 AM on December 27, 2007


Put me in mind of Dylan Thomas' Refusal to Mourn.... After the first death, there is no other.
posted by Abiezer at 1:56 PM on December 27, 2007


But this boy has given his parents a gift. He loved his dog. Plain and simple. It gives reason, it shows he was a good boy, a boy who made a choice and his parents have nothing to feel guilty for.

My son loves our cat, Lucy. If he ran into our burning house to save her, and they both died, I would feel SO DAMN GUILTY that I hadn't drilled the "you do NOT go back into a burning house EVER" into his six-year old brain hard enough.
posted by Lucinda at 8:39 AM on December 28, 2007


So sad.
posted by chance at 3:53 PM on December 29, 2007


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