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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, August 17, 2009

Our Dog Pepper

Pepper was a pound puppy--part terrier of some kind. We rescued him when our two girls were just starting elementary school, and he was part of our family for nearly eighteen years. He was all black and had huge ears that stuck out from his head almost like Yoda of Star Wars fame. As he grew older, his black hair turned gray around the muzzle.

So many humorous stories come to mind when I think of Pepper. If I told them all, I might wind up with a best selling book called "Pepper and Me." Wouldn't that be nice?

Pepper liked to roam. Whenever he had the chance to escape the confines of our house, he was gone. That might have been okay except he liked to chase joggers. Nipping at the runners' heels was so much fun. He was always on the lookout for an open door. When he would get loose, I had to chase him--sometimes while I was still in my bathrobe and big fuzzy pink slippers. He would make a game of it and stand still just until I got close enough to grab him. Then he'd take off again. Finally, as a last resort, I made him wear his leash around the house. That way I only had to get within six feet of him to stomp on his leash and bring him back home. So he roamed our house dragging his leash behind him.

Another story attached to Pepper's leash occurred one afternoon when I was washing and vacuuming my car. We had a two-car garage with two doors. One of the doors was down, and I had hooked the end of Pepper's leash over the door handle. He was lying on the driveway and watched as I worked. While I was vacuuming the car, my husband who had been in the house watching TV decided to drive his car somewhere. He came into the garage and punched the button to the garage door opener on his side of the garage. I was busy vacuuming and didn't hear the other garage door going up or see the dog going up with it. Suddenly above the sound of the vacuum, I heard my husband screaming my name. I looked up just as he grabbed the dog before the poor thing was hung by his own leash. Sometimes, my husband wondered why he rescued that dog, especially on the evening the dog ate my husband's supper while we all went outside to talk with the yard man who had arrived to give us a bid on new sod.

I took Pepper to obedience school, but we both failed. In fact, I think obedience school is more for the owner than it is for the dog. He did learn to sit, stay and heel, but only if he was on a leash. Take the leash away, and that dog was gone. I think he had a Napoleon complex. If there was a big dog nearby, Pepper was sure to attack, even though the dog was four times his size.

Pepper was very protective of his territory--our house. When our girls were in middle school, we had a cleaning lady. I was teaching school and had to leave the house about half an hour before they caught the bus. On the day that our cleaning lady came, I had the girls put the dog in the basement before they went out to the bus stop. One day I got a call from the school office. I went up to the office and discovered that the cleaning lady was calling from my house while she stood on the desk in the kitchen to keep away from the dog, because the girls had forgotten to put the dog in the basement.. I had to go home and rescue her. The next time the girls forgot to put the dog downstairs, Pepper greeted her at the door, and she went backwards through the screen. That was the last of the cleaning lady.

One Christmas Pepper ate one of those huge chocolate kisses that one of the girls got for a gift, but it didn't kill him. Pepper was too tough to die from an overdose of chocolate. All of the different vets we had over the years loved him, and amazingly, he was a model citizen when we boarded him during our vacations. He learned to tolerate three different cats. In his later years, he was great buddies with our cat Allie. In the end, he lost his hearing and his eyesight to cataracts. He slept a lot and didn't bark when the doorbell rang.

He lived longer than we ever expected. He had a stroke when he was nearly eighteen while we were on vacation. So we had to have him put down while we were gone. I always felt bad about not getting to see him again, but my husband said it was better that way. We would always remember him being up and about rather than debilitated by a stroke. Through the years, Pepper brought us a good deal of irritation but a lot of laughs as well. He's been gone for nearly ten years, but we remember him fondly. Everyone in the family has a Pepper story they like to tell.

What kinds of stories do you have to tell about your pet?

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At 11:47 AM, Blogger Dr. Debra Holland said...


Pets can definitely have their pain-in-the-butt moments, but they are SO worth it.

My dog woke me twice last night to go out. Annoying, but better than picking up loose poop in the house.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

We had a scottish terrier before the beagle, and she had some of those same traits Pepper had and a few of her own that made her difficult to love. My mother's favorite story about Molly was that she liked to chew the redwood furniture on the patio. So Mom asked the vet what to do, and he said put Tobasco on it. The hot sauce apparently only made the wood tastier to Molly!

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Judy said...

((Merrillee)) Reading your story about the chocolate reminded me of my dog. Side note, the reason chocolate is a problem for dogs is that they are allergic to it, usually. Like bee stings with people, you can't let them try even once to find out. Fortunately, my dog wasn't allergic to chocolate either. One Halloween, I had a whole basket of different kinds of little chocolate bars, BabyRuth, Butterfingers, Krackle, $100,000 Bar, and Dove. It took a while to realize what had happened because my discriminating child left all the other bars alone and ate only the Dove chocolate, foil and all! A half pound of Dove! I was finding little crumpled foil wrappers for the next week.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Theresa said...

Love your story about Pepper, Merrillee. What a great dog. My Chihuahua is 15 now and losing her sight and hearing. She makes this horrible coughing sound all day and night that is like white noise now, but sadly visitors think she's dying. We do have medicine for her but I only give it to her at night because it just knocks her out. I hate the idea of ever losing her.

So glad your husband saved Pepper from hanging!!!

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Merrillee said...

Dr. Deb,
The only time Pepper ever woke us up at night was during thunderstorms. He was mostly afraid of the lightning. When that happened I discovered that putting him in his kennel and then covering it with a blanket calmed him. Kind of like putting a bird to bed.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Merrillee said...

Your story about the Tobasco sauce made me laugh.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Merrillee said...

Somehow Pepper managed to eat that chocolate without eating the wrapper. Pepper would anything except spinach. We discovered that our younger daughter was giving the dog, who sat under the table, everything off her plate that she didn't want to eat. When we discovered the uneaten spinach under her chair, she had to confess.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Merrillee said...

It is sad to see our pets age and know that their time is limited. I hope you have a good many more years with your little dog.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Merrillee, I loved your Pepper stories :-). What a character! And the Tabasco-loving Scottie--too funny, Mo :-).

Dr. Deb, our Irish setter seemed to have a shrinking bladder and started getting a touch senile later in life. And so every night for nearly three years, my husband would get out of bed, go downstairs, let the dog out and then wait by the door. Every once in a while the setter would forget to come back in, and then my husband would stomp back upstairs to grab his robe and a flashlight, muttering under his breath. Or he'd step on one of the kids' Lego pieces in the dark and "mutter" a little louder, LOL!

Judy, I spent some time this morning picking up several pieces of chewed-up foil :-\.

Theresa, we inherited an elderly teacup poodle when Rob's parents died, and that dog had a similar constant choking/gagging hack. What an unattractive noise!

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Growing up we had a mutt named Frosty, a pretty white dog who had a dislike for the Bassett Hound next door. If you ever wanted to tease Frosty, all you had to do was go to the window and say, "Where's Footsie? Where's Footsie?" Years later, no matter where we had moved, Frosty would still go nuts when we pretended to see Footsie.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Merrillee, what a great story and what a great dog. Pepper's long life is a testament to your loving care. He knew you loved him, trust me.

My pets are the source of so many funny stories. Gus, the deaf Great Dane who learned how to open the fridge and threw a party one night all over my house for himself and his fellow canines. Picture a big white Dane covered in spaghetti sauce. I had an elderly macaw who loved to torture my Rottweiler, Psycho. She would call him over to her cage using my voice. He would stick his nose in the cage and she would bite it HARD and then laugh when he yelped and ran to Mama. The thing is an hour later she would call again and right back he would go. Psycho was definitely all brawn with very little brains, but he was a real sweetheart.

The funniest thing I have ever seen was the day my Dad took his and Mom's Akita for a walk. Shogun tipped the scales at 160 plus pounds. My Dad was not a little guy, strong and well over six feet. He was in his fifties when this happened. Shogun saw a rabbit and took off. Dad held onto the leash and went "skiing" across a huge vacant red clay lot. He refused to let go of the leash. My brothers' friends saw what happened. One came to get us and the other followed on the road around the lot in his car. We got there just in time to see the bitter end. Dad finally tripped and went down. Shogun dragged him another 100 yards and my youngest brother caught him. My Dad was skinned up from head to toe. We asked him "Why didn't you let go?"

He said "And go home without your Mom's 'Baby Boy'? Not on your life!"


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