Author: Judd, Brooks

Ten Items of Less

Item 1: Farewell dear friend, Pepper. In 1996, Sheila and the girls went to an animal shelter in Modesto and saw a lovable small, fluffy, black terrier hopping up and down hoping to be taken into a loving home. At the time we had had Sadie for three years and I had become quite attached to her. Sheila thought she and our daughters should have their “own” special dog and so they ended up at the shelter.

I made it clear to Sheila that if Sadie were to suffer any psychological damage due to another dog being brought into our house she would have to take care of it. She agreed and the dog was brought home. We named her Pepper. She turned out to be a loyal, faithful companion.

Pepper was a wonder, a healing dog. Prior to my hip replacement in 2000 my whole right side was racked with pain. I would lay on the bed trying to get into a comfortable position and Pepper would jump onto the bed and place her body next to my right side and I could feel the pain leave my body as Pepper absorbed it.

Pepper could be aggressive and a few times she would nip at the heels of guest we had at our home. This may sound funny but I would take Pepper into the bedroom and have a talk with her. She would listen and things actually got better. She was a smart companion.

When I would go swimming Pepper and Sadie would wait for me at pool. Pepper would begin to race up and down the side of the pool waiting for me jump in so she could bob her head into the pool and catch the waves as they crashed to the side. She loved doing that. Sadie would just laze out in the sun like her master and cast a few sly looks at Pepper. The two of them were never friends but they did respect each others territory. Then it happened, not once but twice.

One hot summer afternoon I went out to the pool and as usual Pepper began racing up and down the side. I jumped in and when I reached the other side I saw that Pepper was in the pool swimming toward the steps. I looked at where Pepper had been and saw Sadie standing there looking a bit guilty. When I called her name I swear it appeared she pursed her lips and did a little “what me?”whistle. She had pushed Pepper into the pool. A couple of weeks later she did it again. This was Sadie’s only display of being an alpha dog the whole time we had her.

A couple of years after we got Pepper, Rhiannon brought home a small French Poodle that was a stray brought into the vet’s office where she worked. We named her Chloe. She and Pepper hit it off right away and were constant buddies. Sadie was content to have me for a friend. We were now a three dog and one cat family.

Five years ago Betsy our cat, died, four years ago Sadie took her last labored breath and today Pepper joined them. It is all so painful. Sometimes I’m convinced it is better to have never had pets than to go through the heartbreak of taking them to the vet to be “humanely” put to sleep.

For the first time in twenty years we are down to one dog and one cat. Chloe (who already misses Pepper and doesn’t know what to do) is pushing 15 and Piper our cat is about 7. I know this for sure. I love dogs too much to have another one in the house.

Item 2: I hope everyone had a warm, cozy and friendly Christmas and my thoughts are with you that the upcoming New Year will bring good tidings, cheer, music, and fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams.

Until February, read a book, hug a child, pet a dog, stroke a cat, eat a chocolate bar and “Ikiru.”*

Posted:  1/4/2013

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