NOTE: I’m posting this after taking a week to complete it. I just wanted to make sure it was posted on the day of her passing to commemorate the date.
On the morning of Friday, March 11th 2022, we said goodbye to our pet, companion and family member, Ms. Pepper Pawts.
We rescued Pepper in the summer of 2013. The shelter didn’t know how old she was but guessed around two years old. She was definitely older, probably more like four or five at the time based on her mannerisms, but she fit in to our family immediately. She was a husky mix with something that made her ears droop a little, and it was adorable.
Pepper was such a calm, sweet dog. She never barked at anyone or anything. The only times she was ever vocal was one quick woof to ask to go out or in. We would let her out on the deck and when she was ready, she would come to the door and let out one simple bark to let us know she wanted to come in.
I miss her dearly. I miss those barks, our walks, and our nighttime routine.
Every night, for many years, Pepper would get in bed with myself and my wife, and I would pet Pep for ten minutes before going to sleep. After that, she would snuggle up between us and sleep the rest of the evening. These last couple of years Pepper could no longer jump on the bed, so she would go over and put her front paws on it and ask for us to lift her up. It was sweet, and I loved that she still wanted to do it. We tried stairs but she was always scared of them, but she still allowed us to lift her up.
When the pandemic hit and everything locked down, Pepper and I started walking our property every day. We have about an acre, and the back half has a small grove of trees and then a field of natural grasses. I mowed us a path so we could walk back there, and walk we did.
Nearly every single day Pepper and I would take at least one walk and sometimes as many as five. She never let me slack off. No matter how down or apathetic I was, she made sure we went for our walks. Even if I wasn’t feeling it, she would come lay her head on my knee and look up at me with those eyes. I had to go.
So, we would go, get our fresh air and get our joints moving. It was my therapy in a world of lockdowns. It helped me get through these last two years. I owe a lot of my sanity to her because of that. Sadly, on that Friday morning, we took our last walk together.
Pepper had not been in good health, and it was obvious that it was time.
We had a vet come to our home, and Pepper finally slept in peace, surrounded by us in her favorite spot in the living room.
The rest of the day was extremely hard for me. Probably one of the lowest days I’ve had since the pandemic started. I went to bed at 8PM. No dog to say goodnight to. I woke up at four in the morning, and was careful to move my legs not to kick Pepper, who was no longer there. I couldn’t sleep any longer, so I got dressed and got up. As I grabbed my coffee, I instinctively went to fill her water bowl which was no longer needed. I composed myself and went out to the man cave.
I tried to write this then, but I couldn’t even get through the first paragraph.
After sitting in the dark and drinking coffee in silence, I decided that I had to go for that morning walk. I went in and grabbed my coat and went outside in the dark in below zero wind chills. I walked our familiar path and paused at all the places she used to sniff around. I walked back and stopped to watch the sun rise. It was shining brighter than it had in a long time. Pep would have liked that.
In the past couple of days, it’s gotten a little easier, but it will be a while before I don’t instinctively think of things I no longer have to do. I don’t have to save a couple fries or a pizza crust for her, I don’t have to check to see if she needs to go for a walk, I don’t have to move clothes on the bed so she has a place to jump up. Every time I catch myself it takes everything not to break down.
On the Thursday after she passed, we received her ashes, and I laid her to rest along the path we would always walk. We did it at sundown, golden hour, which is a time we tried to walk every day. It was a beautiful night, and our resident hawk was flying around. It was peaceful, which is how I’ll always remember her.
As with everything, time heals all. I’ll miss Pep, but I’m so happy for the time we spent together. Rest in peace my friend.
Keep fucking going.