Pretty, Wonderful Peppy

It has been a traumatic, hectic week. One that ended today with Valentine's Day - a day when we cherish everyone we love. A time to indulge in love, chocolate, hugs, kisses, and all the endorphin kickers. A day when red heart shaped balloons float above registers in most stores, reminding us of all the Valentine's we have experienced.

What a day.

One week ago, our beloved seventeen year old English Pointer was making her midnight rounds, checking the perimeters of the property like she has done every night as long as I have known her. After giving her warning to the four directions, she banged the doggy door, and came inside.

Within an hour, my husband woke to the sound of her trying to get up. He thought she must have lost traction on the hardwood floor and went downstairs to help her.

But tragedy had struck, and Peppy had lost the use of her hind legs. She could not stand up.

Joe stayed with her all night, attempting to keep her calm as she struggled with fear, and the inability to regain control of her limbs. Joe piled up some of the many beds I had bought for her, wanting her old bones to find soft padding in every room in our tri-level.

Early the next morning, Joe woke me, and told me what had happened. Exhausted Joe went to bed, and I went to the family room.

Immediately seeing me, Peppy attempted to get up to greet me. She struggled, and I sat close to her. I rubbed her hind legs. I massaged her back. I cried knowing that if a miracle did not occur, she would not be able to adjust to this lack of mobility.

So went Sunday. We took her for a short ride outside in our red flyer filled with pillows. It gave her a little comfort to feel she would not dirty herself, though we diligently cleaned up after her. We wanted her to feel safe, to know we loved her, and that she was good, loved, and that nothing could ever change that. She looked so tired. Finally in the late afternoon she fell asleep for a little while. Joe was also sleeping upstairs, and I worked while keeping an eye on her.

I thought of our many times together. How she loved to chase a stick, dive for rocks, and hike for miles with us. How she always followed me around the house, slept on the futon behind me as I worked and Joe worked or played golf away from home. How she snuggled against me, and licked my face when I cried, and wanted me to be happy. She always loved, always watched, always cared.

Back in 2000, we had hiked to Eagle Lake in Tahoe. It was June 27 or 28th, and there was still snow on the ground. Pepper promptly found a stick to carry, which she always did when we hiked. Then Joe and I found walking sticks. Pepper and Joe quickly outpaced me. I lagged behind with lots of other people on the trail, each making their way to some area around the lake at the top.

At some point, Pepper turned to see where I was, she noticed me, and the really large stick I held. She dropped her stick and raced to me. Then began a tug of war for my hiking stick. I laughed, and hollered for Joe to call her. Everyone around me stood laughing as Peppy attempted to take the biggest stick. She was amazing.

When we finally got to Eagle Lake, it started to snow. The water frozen in some places, must have been freezing cold, but Pepper dove in, and began her favorite routine. Searching underwater for rocks to present to us. She could hold her breath for as much as eight seconds while digging below the water to release a choice rock, before surfacing. Then she would dive back down, get the rock in her mouth, and present it to one of us. It was too cold, I pulled her to me, afraid she would freeze. We put an extra sweatshirt on her and I snuggled with her to keep us both warm. She was such a love.

A few years back, while living in Reno, a family of raccoons, a raccoon mom, and three grown youngsters, moved into our garage...they liked eating cat food. Pepper ran them out of the garage to the back porch, where Pep fiercely snarled at the mother coon, who hissed back showing teeth and claws. It was a terrifying sight. Calling Pepper off, Joe sprayed the coons with water.

Pepper feared nothing. She would protect her family from anyone or anything.

Joe & Peppy at the lake

Her best friend and mentor was our Mr. Jags, a big, intelligent, gumbie cat. He raised Peppy, as well as our other two cats. He was the cat of cats, not to be kept inside, but to wander and then come home in the evening. When he would return home, he always found Pepper and licked her face. You can see a picture of them here. This picture was taken last March, a short time before Mr. Jags died. He was nineteen years old.

Old Friends - Pepper (16 years) and Mr. Jags (19 years)

It has been a hard week, and to say the least it has been a difficult twelve months.

Best Friends for more than sixteen years

On Monday morning, we took the twenty-two mile drive to the vet, to release our lovely Pep from the body that would no longer work for her. We brought her home and buried her on our land, not far from Mr. Jags, and across the yard from our big sweet orange cat, Mr. Sousi, who also died last year after Mr. Jags. He was over twenty years old

I want to say lots of things about all of these friends because it is Valentine's Day and I love them, each of them and the many that have gone before them over the many, many years I have lived. So I am adding pictures to honor them. To share their love, and I hope you will snuggle with you friends, and lover, and recall all the beings who blessed your life with unconditional love. These wonderful life forms, whose language we seldom understand, but who try relentlessly to understand ours, to teach us love, and who bring us incomparable joy and friendship. We are so lucky to share our world with them.

Hugs to each of you...may your life be blessed with unconditional friends, who make you laugh, lick away your tears, and beg you to exercise with them so you can both live long healthy lives.

Mr. Sousi in his prime

Jags, Gump, and Peppy - Spring 2002

Shogun (12 1/2 years old) and Peppy (7 years old)

Homer - One of Peppy's best friends, Shogun's mate, and my protector for 15 years.

Miss Luna, with her best friend Mr. Jags, who she dearly misses.

Pumpkin and Pepper, friends from the start

My dearest friends - both now on the astral together