Accident separates man and dog

Tim Sandifer and his Yorkshire terrier, Sophie, were inseparable for 21 years.

That all changed when Sandifer was struck by a truck in Carson City and lost track of his beloved pet.

Now, four months later and 2,200 miles away, Sandifer, 45, is recovering from seven broken ribs, a punctured lung and a head injury that put him into a coma.

But his most painful injury, he said, is his heartache over Sophie.

"I'm desperate to find my dog," Sandifer said from his home in Louisville, Ky. "She's my life. My heart's been broken. I don't sleep at night because of this."

On Aug. 1, Sandifer, accompanied by Sophie in a new neon-pink harness and leash, sat on a log near the Eagle Gas Station on Carson Street to watch a Nevada sunset. The following morning, Sophie was to fly on an airplane to Kentucky, while Sandifer would ride a Greyhound bus.

He remembers the truck pulling into the gas station.

"I turned around and saw that it was a truck. He whipped into the parking lot, and I saw the tailgate was down." Sandifer turned away and didn't realize the truck was backing toward him. "He backed in and hit me and pinned me up against a tree."

In the commotion, Sophie disappeared.

While a stunned Sandifer was being carried off by an ambulance crew, a resident of a nearby apartment complex came forward to say he'd found Sophie. He pointed to his apartment door and told Sandifer he'd keep the little dog there.

For the next eight days, Sandifer slipped in and out of a coma at Washoe Medical Center. When he was well enough to travel, he took a cab back to Carson City.

He knocked on every door at the apartment complex on Jeannell Drive. He left notes, too. No one knew anything about Sophie.

The strain of the search took its toll on Sandifer's already battered body. He went back to the hospital, where doctors told him one of his lungs was filling with blood. They recommended he go home to heal.

A four-day bus ride later, Sandifer was in Kentucky. He passed out at the bus station and was rushed to the hospital, where he spent another 18 days.

When he was well enough, he began a long-distance search for his dog.

He called the Carson City Animal Shelter to see if anyone had turned in Sophie. They said no one had. He called fire and sheriff's departments. No one knew where Sophie had gone.

"I'm ready to come back out there and go door to door at every house in Carson City to find her," he said. "My family's distraught."

Sophie is silver, beige and gray and weighs 8 pounds. Sandifer said, despite her advanced age, she has all of her teeth, which he attributes to a lifetime diet of hand-fed chicken and cheese. She has a small cyst under her tail, he said.

Anyone with any information on the missing Sophie should call 502-227-4358 or e-mail Sandifer at

"I just pray to God every day and night that someone kind and gentle has her and is loving her until I can get her back," he said. "I want to know where my dog is."

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment