for a black Labrador named Pepper .... 8/29/89 - 5/24/04

(posted May 29, 2004 from Platteville, Wisconsin)

 

This is going to be rather bare-bones for now.  When I get home to my scanner and a clearer head, I'll add more photos and such.

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This past Monday morning, I got a voicemail from my dad telling me my childhood dog, Pepper, has died.  I got her as an 8-week old puppy when I was 9 years old.  We spent 15 years together.  Every minute of that time was a blessing.

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I'm on the road, so the only digital photos of Pepper I have with me are from a visit to Grandma's last summer:

 

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The other thing I have with me is a simple poem I wrote for her about 10 years ago:

"PEPPER"

She leans her head down,

So I can kiss the tip of her wet, soft, satin nose.

As I pull back,

She suddenly, but gently smacks that same nose,

With the flat of her long, moist, pink tongue,

As a return gesture.

Her intense rainbowed brown eyes

Gaze at me with curious questioning,

And her expressionate black furry brows

Pull together to emphasize her emotion.

I contentedly stare back at her,

And my own eyes give an answer of love.

Satisfied, she humbly looks away,

Replaces her beautiful velvet head

To it previous position of rest,

And peacefully closes her eyes.

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For my Tuesday night show in Duluth, the day after Pepper died, I wrote a little something to put onstage for her.

"TRIBUTE TO DOGS"

I think people should be more like dogs.  Think about the traits of dogs.  They're loyal, generous, loving, tolerant -- I don't know any person who will let me put my cold feet on their belly.  They are affectionate, protective, obedient, warm, empathic, complimentary -- because nothing says "you make a damn good burger" like swallowing the thing whole.  They never judge.  They consider it lucky to sleep on the couch.  They will lick your toes for a solid hour.  And I never feel that anyone is truly happy to see me unless they wag their tail and pee on themselves.

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Pepper died easy.  She wagged her tail to her last day until she laid her head down and closed her eyes and stopped breathing.  She lived to see one last spring.  When it came time to see one last Pennsylvania summer, she said, "screw this, I'm out of here!" 

I'll take her with me everywhere until I see her again.

 


UPDATE:  August 23, 2004    .....  I've finally hijacked my parents scanner and gotten more photos online.  Here's the works:

 

Pepper as a puppy, 1989. 

We went to a Halloween hayride and bonfire party with a bunch of my dad's friends on a farm.  Two 8-week old Labrador puppies from a recent litter of 10 followed their owners to this party.  I found the little girl (as it happens, Mom said the only way we could get a puppy is if we found a female black Lab), and except for the times my brother won the battle over her, I carried this puppy around all night.  My parents knew they couldn't leave without her.

 

After I got my driver's license, one of my favorite things to do in my spare time was go for long drive on back roads in my Chevy with Pepper riding shotgun.

 

Most times, I took care of Pepper's baths.  She was always a good sport.

 

Pepper on her trampoline.  She said it made fetch more fun.

 

Sniffing the snow man's crotch.

 

My high school senior portrait.  Nice prop, eh?

 

Me and my girl, 1998.  Right before I move to Tennessee.

 

Same girl, same day in 1998.  My not-yet-then-and-now-ex-husband did a wonderful job taking these photos.

 

Dad mailed this Polaroid to me one year when I lived in Tennessee.