Pepper - Spring 2010
Mitchell and Ty with Pepper - Summer 2013
Pepper and I . . . May 11, 2014
Wayne with the boys and Pepper - May 11, 2014
We lost our dog, Pepper, due to an unfortunate accident at our acreage on May 27, 2014. I wasn't home when she passed . . . she only lived for about 20 minutes after she was accidentally run over by my husband in his truck . . . he was moving some landscaping ties around in our backyard . . . he didn't see her and he ran over her. I think that due to Pepper's lack of mobility, her unfamiliarity with a truck driving around in the backyard, and my husband simply not realizing she was there at the time, Pepper met her demise.
You can well imagine the distress we all felt over this tragedy. Pepper was more than just our family pet. She was an amazing friend as well, especially to Mitchell. I believe that the relationship between Mitchell and Pepper helped Mitchell get through some very trying times while he was being bullied in public school. Pepper was like Mitchell's "best friend doggy", and I can relate, because growing up, I had a dog like that as well. He was an apricot poodle named Casper (a.k.a. Bubba). He heard me spill out my heart . . . you know, the stuff you want to say out loud, but you can't really tell another human being . . . that is what Bubba was to me. He listened without a reply--without trying to give advice, or solve the problem. He just listened. And I think Pepper was kind of like that for Mitchell as well. For Ty, Pepper was his outdoor companion. Pepper followed the boys on their adventures throughout the yard as they explored, played games, climbed trees, skateboarded, biked, swung on ropes . . . whatever. Ty was especially connected to her in this way because she was his "audience" as he performed tricks on his skateboard from off our deck. She would lie on the grass, watching his every move. If he spoke to her, she'd wag her tail--like she understood what he was saying, her big, "smiley" mouth panting accolades for his efforts.
While devastation and grief set in to the hearts of our family over this loss, we also knew that Pepper was done with her suffering. In November 2012, Pepper had a rough encounter with a coyote. She had to visit the vet, who treated her for an infected bite wound. Unfortunately, her front leg directly below her neck where the bite was, became lame. We believe she suffered nerve damage from the attack, and as a result, she was not as agile as she once was. Due to her lack of mobility, she gained a lot of weight and was not the same dog she was in her earlier years. In her mind I think she thought she could do anything--but in reality, she could barely get around, especially through the snow in the winter. Springtime usually brought out a new level of energy in her, but Pepper was never the same dog after the coyote attack. I had entertained the thought of "putting her out of her misery" this past winter, but my family would not hear of it. Obviously you hope for the best---that your lame dog is going to get better over time . . . but she didn't.
This is the first pet we've lost that my boys were super-attached to. We have lost some other dogs (and a few farm cats) in the history of our life with pets, but nothing compares to the sorrow and grief my boys experienced over losing Pepper. Honestly, it was one of the most difficult parenting days of my life, and I just wish I could have taken away the emotional pain my boys experienced as a result of Pepper's death.
Two days after Pepper was gone, I began to research the possibility of getting a new puppy. Not that we could ever replace Pepper--but the boys would not even step outside the house to play . . . they wouldn't go near Wayne's truck . . . they were so consumed with their thoughts of Pepper, and there were just too many painful reminders of a missing dog when they went outside, so it was easier to just stay in. And when you live on an acreage, an outdoor dog is a very good thing to have. Pepper was the most excellent protector of our yard, and it's going to be difficult to replace her keen sense of keeping unwanted animal "guests" from crossing our property boundaries.
Even though we adored Pepper's blue heeler/Australian shepherd/Kelpie mix, we decided to stay away from choosing another dog of that breed. I didn't want us to constantly compare the new puppy with Pepper, and I thought that would be more likely to happen if we had another blue heeler-type dog. So, I checked-out some on-line advertisements for puppies, and found a dog that I thought would fit-the-bill for what we require on our acreage, but at the same time, help us all (the boys especially) get over our loss of an amazing dog.
When we went to see the puppies I had found, Wayne and I had decided in advance, without the boys' knowledge, that we might very possibly come home with two puppies instead of one. So, when we were checking the puppies out, we informed the boys that they could each choose one . . . and you should have seen their eyes light up and the excitement in their chatter. They now each own four-and-a-half-month-old female puppies that are a border collie/German shepherd/black lab mix. Their names are Vimy Ember and Juno Benelli. They are a lot of work, but our goal to ease the pain of losing Pepper has been accomplished most days. Of course we still miss Pepper greatly, but the boys have been able to move ahead and focus on their responsibilities with their new pups. We are still working out some issues with their behavior, but Vimy and Juno are coming along and we are very grateful to have these precious girls as part of our family.
Juno (left) and Vimy (right) with me--a few days after we got them.
Mitchell with Juno - end of July 2014
Vimy and Ty - end of July 2014