January 6, 1991 – August 2, 2010
She chose us. We had the good fortune to visit Pepper and all her siblings within a week after they were born. Eyes still closed. We visited them weekly and watched them grow, all the while trying to decide which one we would eventually take home with us. It wasn’t easy, but one kept coming over to us as we sat in the “nursery”, puppies all around us. That was Pepper, although at the time they called her Yap because she had a white “Y” on her little black head and because she…. yapped! She was the runt of the litter.
We brought Pepper home the night of the Ice Storm of ’91, to a dark house, the last heat fading fast. We kept her in a box, covered with a blanket to keep her warm. I remember her shivering – she did that a lot back then.
That was the start of nineteen and a half mostly wonderful years. Along the way, Pepper tore out first one ACL then the other a couple of years later. She broke a toe running around in glee when Grandpa came to pick her up from friends while we were away on vacation. Many years later that toe developed a malignant tumor and had to be removed. At the time the prognosis for it spreading wasn’t good, but Pepper’s body made sure the cancer never came back. Other than that, Pepper was a remarkably healthy and happy dog.
Pepper was our constant, trusted companion. Our little girl. She slept between us in our bed all these years, threatened only once by the onset of incontinence, but, fortunately, veterinary science prevailed. She went almost everywhere with us and did almost everything. We’d try to arrange our vacations to accomodate her.
She loved to go camping. One of our fondest memories was our first year camping with Pepper when she first “learned” to swim. Actually, I think she always knew how, she just had to discover the ability. We found a little rocky beach and threw a stick in the water. Pepper loved to fetch and this time was no different. She ran in after it, splashing as she went. We threw the stick gradually further and further until Pepper finally realized her feet weren’t touching the bottom any more. After that it was hard to keep her out of the water. She loved to swim. Just recently, we suspended her in the water at the cottage (one of her favorite places) and the “muscle memory” was still there, her legs kicking in the water. This seemed to please her. You could almost see her smile.
When Sue was recovering from cancer surgery, Pepper was there by her side to offer comfort, support and understanding kisses. Whenever either of us was sad or not feeling well, Pepper was there to console us, sometimes bringing her beloved Frisbee to try and entice us to go outside and throw it. Pepper was expert in catching a Frisbee, by the way.
Pepper loved her walks and she’d always accompany me with special excitement if I felt like a walk in the woods, even on the coldest winter day. She was the perfect companion for this, often taking the lead but always staying close enough for each of us to keep tabs on the other. Until just recently, she was always willing. Even then her spirit was ready to go though her body couldn’t oblige.
A trooper until the end, Pepper would try to walk these last few days when we brought her outside to pee. More often than not she would fall over, looking sad and perhaps apologetic. But she would never give up. She had lost almost half her normal body weight. Finally, we had to make the decision. Pepper left our world today, August 2, 2010 at 9:05 AM. She is, and always will be, missed terribly.