|This page was published to the web on Pepper's 14th
birthday, June 21, 2016. She was about 6 weeks old when
she came home to Diana, Dave and Becca to live with them in
Newport Beach California in the summer of 2002. She moved to Costa Mesa in 2005
and then to Winthrop Washington in 2009 to live with Diana and
Mike. She is an amazing dog who we fondly called puppy trash, mill
puppy and poodle trash.
Happy 14th birthday Poodle! In
those early days, I did not like ankle biters, still
don't...mostly. I grew up with real outdoor dogs, never
had a indoor lap dog. When walking to Starbucks, I'd tell
Diana to stay 15 feet behind me so people wouldn't think I was
with you. But over time, you actively worked on me, wore
me down and ultimately won me over and you became my dog as Diana
still reminds me from time to time as well as people too.
not universally mine but primarily as you press your
independence. You have your pack;
Diana, Sage and I. You really do want us all to be together
all the time and are visibly bothered when there are
Well Poodle, you made it to 16. It's now about a month
after that birfday and you are doing amazingly well, though lots
of meds and now some hemp (CBD) to help you along. Still a
sharp knife though your physical side is slowing you down.
You don't go on walk walks anymore and I stay home with you so
Diana and Sage now walk alone. You have done well to learn my silly sign language hand signals.
I regret not having taught you sooner though your whiffer and
eyes have have been a great help too! You now have steps
to the beds and the couch. You still bring us
much joy while Sage seems to enjoy being more and more
close to that coveted alpha dog status that you proudly wielded
when Sage joined us all in 2009. I don't think he will completely get
there until you blast off, though he surely could. You two
are still a complementary pair.
More to follow in time...
It's now sadly, past time..
Pepper was euthanized on Thursday November
29, 2018 about 10:30am while sedated for dentistry and an abscess
on her muzzle (cancer - less than two weeks to live at most). The Party Poodle lived for 16 years, 5
months and 8 days. She will be missed beyond any words
that I can put down now, if ever. It's been 5 days now and I am not
able to do more. But I will in time...
December 20, 2018 -
My first update to these pages since we let
Pepper go. I have collected all her photos and those of
her and Sage or others but I haven't tried to pick out any to
share yet, really have not looked at them yet. We have
gotten many comments and letters though and we appreciate
everyone sharing with us. A few of you have Emailed Pepper
but I didn't feel I should share. But Coventry's Email to
the Poodle today is one that should be shared, we enjoyed it and
I think it is somewhat a bridge for Diana and I as well.
February 8, 2019 -
Still can't get this done. We see you every day; greetings
in the morning, good night at the end and random events during
the day. We missed only 1 day, that for Sage's test drive
motel overnighter trip to Wenatchee in prep for a 10 day family
You were my excuse not to travel, so we are
gearing up for a quick trip to Boston soon and a road trip (with
Sage) to St Paul. All family stuff without the Poodle.
I don't really want to leave.
We have not moved past the grief nor find
these pages more than little comfort. I know in time that
those two will intersect, then reverse. I'm not sure I
want that either...
March 2, 2019 - It's 3 months and 2
days later. No effort to pick through the Poodle's
pictures to put up here, haven't taken her stuff to storage, her
beddie and blankie are still in the bedroom.
But we did take our first trip, darn Poodle
made me do it! We went to Martha's Vineyard a week ago to
visit with my daughter and her spouse and my first grandson.
My son and his spouse also flew into Boston and we all drove
down together to the island. Wonderful time there with
family, but the travel sucks. I used Pepper to shield me
from that travel. Not so much now. So next up is a
road trip to St. Paul. Sage is traveling with us. He
should be a fine roadie and he deserves it for putting up with
that alpha crap that Pepper dished out for all of his 10 years
in the Poodle kingdom.
May 1 2019 - It's been 5 months and 2
days. Her bulbs that we planted in December have come up
and we have had 3 flowers bloom in the past few weeks.
Diana got some summer flowers and we swapped out her original
winter bunch last week. I haven't started on Pepper's
marker yet, beyond the planning, hopefully real soon now.
Yesterday we went and looked at poodle puppies
at a local breeder's home in Twisp. 4 3-month old red
standards were there as well as the Mom and Dad and a sister
from a previous litter. We spent an hour with breeder in
the yard with the entire crew. There are 2 females there,
both who were very interactive and I took a liking to. But
didn't have a spark or something was missing...likely Pepper I
suppose. We should move forward with this chance though.
The breeder is new and marvelous and I fear she will soon burn
out as she spends a tremendous amount of time with her clan.
Maybe, but as of today, no move has been made though I think
these pups are special and nearby and it is a wonderful nexus to
what we already have here in the valley.
2323 hours: Late update. Tomorrow
we go to Leah's to bring Nancy (soon to be Rosemary) home.
More on that soon, why now especially...
I know that as time goes by I will forget details about
Pepper’s last days so I want to write them down, even though it
is still fresh and painful.
She had a good week the week before she died. She was stiff and
sore but happy. Mike usually got up with her before I woke up.
As she walked by my room she always looked in and if I put my
hand down she trotted in for a quick pet. She always bounced in,
no matter how stiff she was.
Mike was having difficulty getting her to eat in the mornings.
She needed food to take her pain pills but she wouldn’t even be
tempted by peanut butter, pork or chicken. She would eat as the
She still watched us carefully. She kept careful track of both
of us, but always, especially, Mike. She would get frantic if
she lost track of him. He had to be careful to always make eye
contact with her before he left a room so she knew where he was.
She would then sit and wait for him.
I believe the last time Pepper ate was Monday night. I believe
the only time she ate more than a bite or two that day was in
the evening. Of course this was very concerning in a dog whose
life purpose had been to convince her humans to feed her more.
Tuesday she did not eat at all. She drank lots of water and did
not seem uncomfortable. She enjoyed going outside and she peed
and pooped. I told Mike I thought she was starting the process
Unfortunately we had to force her meds down her throat. She
would not eat anything and she had to have her pain meds to keep
her comfortable and to keep her from becoming anxious. She hated
that. She fought and threatened to bite. It was awful.
Tuesday morning when we forced her pills I saw blood on Mike’s
hand. I thought she bit him but then we saw a puffy oozing sore
on her left muzzle. I was actually a bit relieved. She had an
abscessed tooth. That explained everything and it could be
fixed. It felt like a reprieve.
We took her to the vet that afternoon. We gave her tranquilizers
for the trip. I drove and Mike held her. She was calm. Dr. Mike
agreed it was an abscess. He gave her an antibiotic shot and we
scheduled her to have the tooth removed the next morning.
We hoped she would eat that evening after the shot but she would
not. She drank lots and lots of water but she would not drink
broth. She was “looped” and quiet the rest of the day from the
tranquilizers, given on an empty stomach. She still enjoyed
Thursday morning we gave her pain pills and tranquilizers. We’d
cleared that with the vet. I drove and Mike held her. She was
calm. We chatted at the vet’s office. Pepper actually got away
from Mike at one point and trotted down the hallway. He had to
go get her.
We understood there was risk in putting a 16-year-old frail dog
under general anesthesia but Pepper’s main problem was
arthritis. Her heart and organs seemed to be strong. We weren’t
overly concerned about the anesthesia killing her.
We discussed when to come pick her up. Mike and I wanted to know
whether to go home and come back or stay in town and run
errands. Dr. Mike said she wouldn’t be ready to go home until
around 2 so we said we would shop for groceries and then go home
and wait for them to call us.
Dr. Mike said she was the first patient so she would not go into
a crate. He would take her right back and put her under.
We said good-bye to her casually, fully expecting to be back to
pick her up that afternoon. We thought she would have a rough
day and night and then she would be better and start eating
again. We knew she didn’t have much time left but we saw this as
a fairly minor road bump.
We went next door and started shopping. We were in the produce
aisle. I had just put cilantro in my cart and was heading for
the onions. I looked up and saw Dr. Mike. My heart sank. He came
up to me and gently said it was cancer, not an abscess. Mike was
at the cold cuts cooler with his back to us. I went and got him.
Dr. Mike said Pepper was still under and fine. The “abscess” was
a nasty cancer. He had started to remove it but it was too
entrenched. She would need radiation and/or chemo and even then
would likely not have more than a couple weeks. I was shaking my
head but Mike was stunned and couldn’t take it in. Once he
realized what Dr. Mike was saying there was no question. We told
him to let her go.
Mike remembers him asking us if we wanted to see her one last
time. I don’t remember that. We did not.
There was a store employee nearby. I told her we had to put our
dog down and we just wanted to go home. She gave me a hug and
said she’d put our few little things back but we did it before
We went home, shocked and crying. After a while I called and
asked if we could come and pick her up. They said yes and we
drove back to town.
Cassandra said Dr. Mike was wrapping her up. She asked if we
wanted a box and I said yes. It took a while but she went back
and then came out with a taped up shipping box with “perishable”
on it. This upset Mike very much. Dr. Mike did not come out.
I’ll note he was quite sick with a cold.
We brought a bed and blankie for her. I held the box on the bed
on the drive home. When we got home Mike cut up the box. She was
in a black trash bag. There was liquid in the bag so he did not
open it. I did not want to see her. I wanted to remember her as
she was when we dropped her off.
We debated over what toy (Baby) to send with her. Mike wanted to
keep the babies that meant the most to her: Tiger Baby, Moosie
and Baby Einstein. I chose a little blue squeaky dog that she
played with and enjoyed but did not have that strong emotional
Mike dug a grave for her while I was back east. We knew she
would not likely survive the winter and he wanted to do it
before the ground froze. He went down and got the grave ready
We wrapped her in a blankie I knit and laid her in her pink
beddie. Mike put her in her grave. We put her blue squeaky toy
on top. We buried her.
Mike was appalled by that cardboard box. It was the focus of his
intense, immediate grief. I kept telling him that was not
Mike took great comfort in her grave. It was hard for me. She
was outside, in the cold, alone. I couldn’t sleep that night,
thinking about her out there. Now I had to tell myself that’s
not her, that’s not Pepper. I was so glad we had her here, that
she had not been shipped off in that horrible box. But the
reality of it hit me and it was overwhelming.
The following days have been very hard. We agreed it was the
best possible death for her. She essentially died in her sleep.
We were spared having to make the awful decision to put her
down. We said good-bye to her not knowing we were saying
good-bye forever. She was drugged and calm, not upset or
What has been so painful is her absence. She was acutely aware
of us and we were acutely aware of her. She was a huge
personality and a huge presence. That is gone now and it is an
enormous adjustment that feels unreal and impossible. The house
is so different without her. It’s hard to convey what a force
she was, even after she grew weak and fragile. Her mind never
Sage is a good dog but he’s quiet and subdued. He likes to be
petted but otherwise he does not seek out interaction. He has
not seemed to miss her much. He had already discounted her as
she grew weaker, ignoring her, wagging his tail in her face,
occasionally knocking her down unintentionally.
The only obvious change we saw in him was he would not eat his
food in the kitchen. He was always fed in the living room and
Pepper was fed in the kitchen. Originally this was to keep her
from eating all his food and trying to stop him when he ate it.
Later it was because she got canned food, chicken and pork to
induce her to eat. Those things upset Sage’s tummy. He got
scolded when he would sneak into the kitchen to eat her food. So
when we suddenly moved his food he would not eat it. We’re
transitioning his food back to the kitchen gradually.
Sage deserves to be top dog for whatever good years he has left.
We don’t expect him to fill up our lives the way Pepper did. I’m
not sure any dog could do that. She was unique.
Without her here we’ve realized how weak she was. She had not
carried a baby in a long, long time. That was part of her
bedtime routine, every single night. Her arthritis kept her from
walks. I took Sage. She didn’t like that but she could tolerate
it. She could not tolerate Mike taking Sage for a walk. Now we
walk Sage together again.
Right now the grief is sharp and painful. It strikes sometimes
without warning. Her grave is a comfort. Pictures are
bittersweet. It’s hard to talk about her without crying. We look
forward to the day when we can smile at pictures, chuckle over
memories, when the pleasure at remembering her is greater than
the bitterness of the loss of her. It will take a while. We’re
not even close. But we know we’ll get there.
Others who have known me:
Coventry, December 20, 2018
We heard you took a walk over the Rainbow Bridge. We were very
sad to hear that, we bet your owners are especially sad to see
you go. We wanted to tell you to keep an eye out over there for
Beya, Sisko and Emmie. You probably already met Emmie and Beya,
we imagine they were there to greet you and welcome you to doggy
heaven with nose kisses and special treats. Sisko usually only
shows up if you have something for him... he never really shares
- or thinks of others - he is king dog (at least in his own
mind) and we are all there to serve him. Anyway, we know that
you are dearly missed, and that mini poodle sized holes in your
owners hearts are bigger than anyone can imagine...
We are sending you and your people love and greyhound kisses:
Gunner and Luci
Pepper's Place, for now. In the spring,
a more permanent marker.
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