Sperry and “Vovo”
This week’s article is a tribute to a special lady. The tribute is from Sperry, the now gray faced
Shar-Pei/pit mix who has resided at the shelter for the better part of four years. The last time I
wrote about Sperry, I referred to her as a Flagler Humane Society‘s Director of Kisses. Sperry
has been promoted and has a new title now, Director of Affection Research and Development.
Sounds impressive, right? Since Sperry can’t use a computer, I will write the tribute for her.
Exactly a year ago I wrote an article about how Sperry would spend weekends with former
employee and founder of Black Tie Events, Lee Filipe and Lee’s mom. Weekdays Sperry works
hard at FHS. She nurtures baby kittens, she helps interview potential employees, she teaches
kids summer camp, she fundraises through her kissing booth and more. Weekends she relaxes
in the welcoming home of Lee and Lee’s mom, Albertina. We always said that Sperry called
Albertina “Vovo’ which is a Portuguese term of endearment for “Granny”. Sperry and Vovo
became very close.
Sperry would start the day by helping Vovo wake up. She would jump up on Vovo’s bed and roll
over for a tummy rub, then she would follow her to the kitchen to help her make her coffee and
then follow her outside for fresh air aka Sperry’s time to roll on the grass. Lee said that she
always heard her mom talking in Portuguese to Sperry. Sperry would listen intensely either from
her bed or she would put her head on Lee’s mom’s lap. Lee thought they were talking about
whatever TV show was on, usually Chicago Fire and Hawaii 5-0 and if Sperry thought the guys
were cute. Then Vovo would say, you know when I was younger all the boys would smile at me.
If they were outside together Vovo would sit and paint or water her plants and Sperry would sit
on the love seat. Sometimes they had disagreements. If Sperry was outside and wouldn’t come
back inside Lee’s Mom would tell Sperry she wasn’t her friend anymore but an hour later it was
like nothing had happened. They were best friends again.
Lee said “Thunderstorms were when they bonded the most. Sperry would get under mom’s
recliner to hide or if it was early morning, she would hide under Mom’s bed. The wild thing is
that Sperry never barked to go out, she would go to the door and shake her head then look at
mom sideways. Mom would look at me and tell me that Sperry wanted to go out. Mom trained
Sperry to back up so mom could go out first and once mom was outside, then Sperry was
allowed to step out. In the beginning she would barrel her way out and almost knock mom over.
She learned quick. I can still hear mom telling Sperry to moooooooove.”
Two weeks ago Sperry came back to “work” on her usual day. She gave Vovo her usual kiss
goodbye and jumped in the car with Lee. No one knew that this would be the last time the two
dear friends would see each other in “person”. Days later Albertina had a bad fall and
subsequent surgery. From her hospital bed, she and Sperry face timed. Vovo told Sperry that
she loved her and to be good. Sperry licked the phone. The next day Lee’s mother passed away
peacefully. Sperry seemed sick that day. She was very lethargic and sick to her stomach. Could
she somehow know that her best friend was gone? Do dogs have a sixth sense like that? We
don’t know, but we are thankful that Sperry was and is so loved. Thank you Lee for taking care
of Sperry and for sharing your sweet mom.
Amy Wade-Carotenuto is the Executive Director at Flagler Humane Society and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Flagler Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) not-for- profit organization founded in 1980. For more information go to www.flaglerhumanesociety.org