Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's a dog's life (the story of Pepper)

Those who know me will tell you that I love animals. Quite frankly, I love them more than most people. Specifically, I love dogs. When we were growing up, my brother and I had a feist/cocker spaniel mix named Ginger. She was the best dog, we loved her so much! She would sleep at the foot of Keith's bed or my bed. If she couldn't decide, she would sleep in the hallway between our rooms. She was the perfect pet. We got her when I was in 6th grade (I was 12) and she lived a very long life, dying on Olivia's 2nd birthday (I was 24).

When Mike and I were dating, he got transferred to Memphis. After a year or so there, he got transferred back to Jackson and decided it was time to stop "apartment dwelling" and move into a house. He had marriage plans on the horizon, but I didn't know that :) He decided he needed a dog to make his house a home and adopted a Rat Terrier named Wiley from a friend. She was between 1 and 2 years old. This was early 1999. A few months later, I was on the way to class and drove past a litter of tiny puppies playing in a very busy road. It was right down the street from the Humane Society and someone had dumped them off. I quickly pulled over, piled all five of them in my lap and drove to the Humane Society. As I was handing them over, the generously told me I could keep one of them if I wanted. I chose a tiny little black and white puppy and immediately headed to Mike's house.

He was off work that day and was laying on his couch watching TV. I came in through the garage door into the kitchen. He sat up, saw what I was carrying and started saying "No, no, no". As I got closer, he softened. By the time I made it to the couch, he was smitten. We took the new pup, aptly named Lucky, to the vet (she only weighed 2 lbs) and got her healthy. Mike's terrier, Wiley, immediately took over as the puppy's mother and taught her everything she knew. They became the best of friends and remained so until Wiley died in September 2012. She was 14 and had lived a long, healthy life. Her best friend Lucky was HEARTBROKEN by her mate's death. When Mike went to bury her at the back of our property, Lucky stood in our big kitchen window and sobbed. I have never heard an animal cry like she did. She refused to eat for a couple of days, but rebounded and enjoyed a full life for several more months, until she passed away March 2013. She was 13. She was my first baby. We knew she was dying, she had stopped eating and drinking several days before and the vet said it was just a matter of time. She did not seem to be in pain, but spent all her days trying to get to her mate's grave. She would make it back there and lay down and sleep. It was pitiful. The night she died, she cried unless I held her. I sat up until 2 a.m., rocking her like a baby (I should mention she weighed around 60 lbs!). I was dreading the moment she died, as I could not fathom my sweet girl dying in my arms. Around 2 a.m., our human baby woke up screaming, which he never does. I put the dog down and went to check on the baby. I was gone less than a minute. When I came back, she was gone.

After she died, we decided to wait a while before we got a new dog. Mike has always wanted an English Springer Spaniel, so we decided to wait until we found one and until our hearts healed a little. We did get Olivia a kitten for her birthday, so the house was not empty of pets, just dogs.

A few days before Christmas, Phillip announced he wanted a dog for Christmas. Not a puppy, a dog. We gently shot him down, telling him Santa had already loaded his sleigh, etc. He would not let up, he said he was asking Santa AND Jesus for a dog and was sure he would get one. No amount of cajoling or excuse making could sway him. After a brief, insane conversation about getting a puppy of Craigslist or something, we decided to just let Phillip learn a hard life lesson, you don't always get what you pray for. Ha! God was ready to give us a life lesson, don't mess with a 5 year old boy with BIG faith and a direct line to Jesus and Santa.

A beautiful black dog showed up in our yard a couple of days before Christmas. We live in the country, in a subdivision, so dogs being "dumped" out is not unusual. It's also not unusual for people to let their dogs roam free. So, we figured she was one of those two things. She was shy, keeping her distance. I noticed right away that she was super skinny. I went inside, piled a bowl full of leftovers (no dog food in the house anymore) and set it outside. I slipped back in and peeked out to see her inhaling the food. We kept this dance up until Christmas Eve. She wouldn't really let me touch her, but was coming closer and closer. I took her picture and posted it on several lost pet sites in case she was someone's pet.

Christmas Day we were playing outside with the boys' new four wheelers when she wandered up and let us pet her! It was a Christmas miracle! She even came inside with us and laid down under the tree. She was having a grand ol' Christmas until my brother's dog (chihuahua) attacked her (I don't like little dogs, they are too yippy!). After that, she was nervous and bolted back outside the first time the door was open. We did not see her again for a couple of days. We were bummed but hoped she had found her way to her owners.

So...how did she become ours and lose a leg in the process? Stay tuned!


  1. What an amazing story! I wasn't an animal person at all until we adopted our little fur balls from the Humane Society 2 years ago. They are the babies!

  2. Love this! I am not able to have children so our dog ARE our children! Each one came to us through different circumstances, but the absence of either of them would leave an unfillable whole.