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Monday, June 4, 2012

My Dog Pepper

Between May 24-30, we lost three of our six cats to coyotes. It was heartbreaking, but life in the country has its own dangers, and the coyotes were doing what they do - hunting, probably feeding spring pups. I joked to a Facebook friend that my next cat would be a dog. And, it is. Pepper, a handsome Brittany. Let's just say we had a brief, intense exercise in computer dating.

On Friday, I Googled for the local animal shelters to see if there were any Brits available for adoption. All of our cats were adopted, so it just seemed natural, but the Internet has made pet adoption so much easier. My first hit was an older Brit, about 10. Having just lost three cats, including my favorite, I didn't want to lose a dog within the next few years. The second Brit I found on-line was blind. I just didn't figure I could manage her, especially since we'll be moving to a new house in August or September. The third wasn't really a Brit. The fourth was Sgt. Pepper, a handsome orange and white Brit at the Colville Valley (Wash.) Animal Shelter, about two hours away. I e-mailed Nancy at the shelter, asking her to call me to arrange an interview, and she called within a couple of hours. We arranged to meet Nancy and Sgt. Pepper (his shelter name) Sunday afternoon.

Karen and I drove toward Colville, stopping in Spokane to pick up Karen's son, Donovan; I wanted him to be available to drive back to Post Falls if we and the dog hit it off. Nancy met us at the shelter and brought Pepper to meet us. He was blur of orange white packed into 50 lbs. of muscle and fur, handsome, but with burs matted into his chest and leg hair. He knocked me down as I tried pulling some burrs from his belly hair, but I managed to pull a tick from the inside of an ear, and another from his neck. "He's a runner," Nancy said, and he was all of that. He raced around the compound until we could have a lead put on his collar and take him for a walk along a tree-lined path. Karen and I liked him immediately. Donovan said, "He's not the right dog for you - too much energy." We took him.

Donovan drove back, with Karen riding shotgun and me in the back seat, chatting with and petting Pepper, as we decided to call him. "That's a girl's name," said Donovan, referencing Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's assistant in Iron Man. "Pepper Johnson was one of the toughest linebackers in Giants' history," I replied. Pepper it is. He rode well, sniffing the air through partly-opened windows, walking around the truck, sitting, lying down. Never a bark. We stopped at PETCO and bought a new collar, lead, food dish, dog food (he hates Blue Buffalo, it turns out), tennis ball and launcher, and a tag engraved with his name and our phone number. We took him into the store and he behaved like a real gentleman.

Upon arriving home, we fixed up a bed for him in the garage and took him for a walk. He immediately treed our black cat, Pete, who's since moved to another tree. We quickly found out he's a master digger, tunneling under two different gates to the fenced-in back yard on two different days. He spent Saturday night in the garage. Early this morning, I fed Pepper, leashed him up, and took him for a tour of our property, walking him all the way to the top and back down. Like a good spaniel, he walked with his nose, crossing the trail, back and forth, stopping when he thought he smelled something interesting. He understands "Sit" and "Walk," but I'm going to enroll him in obedience training ASAP. After the walk and his second escape from the back yard, I went to Lowe's and bought 40 18" long, pointed rebar, and drove them into the ground below the gates so he couldn't tunnel under. We'll see how that works tomorrow.

 Pepper had a grand day, meeting our two remaining tabbies, who took him mostly in stride; getting his distemper and parvo shots, as well as a subcutaneous chip; going on a tour of the house with Karen, and going for a long walk in the rain with us this evening. Tomorrow, I'll get him registered with Kootenai County Animal Control, and we can settle in to building our new family dynamic. As Rick said to Louis, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."


  1. You have your hands full--but it sounds like you're up for it. The two of you look quite handsome together!

  2. Beautiful story, and I am so glad that you did a rescue. They are some of the best pets out there, in the world, waiting to be saved by someone fabulous, like you!!!