Pepper – 2003 to 12/31/2010

Pepper was added to our family in 2003.  It was summer time and the Morgan County Humane Society was having space and money issues because they were overflowing with cats and dogs.

Kris and I drove up with some food to donate and with the idea of being foster parents. I remember walking into the dog area to lookpepper004-lg at the dogs and we passed the first row of inside kennels. Most dogs ran to the front and barked or whined or somehow were eager for attention.  Except one. This dog was curled up in the back of her kennel, which was probably only 4 feet by 4 feet, on a wood palet for a bed.  That dog looked up as we passed but remained curled in a ball.  We passed lots of dogs, some in kennels piled on top of other kennels. Some puppies, some adults and some tied up to dog houses out back. The shelter was quite full.  Kris felt that if we took a puppy home to foster, we’d never find it a home. I suggested  we take the dog that was curled up in the kennel.

We took her out to meet her and she had a lively personality. Her leash manners were abysmal but she was eager to have attention once out of her kennel. Her fur was sparse and coarse and she was a little overweight but otherwise she seemed like a great dog.  We filled out the paperwork and took her home to meet our 3 dogs.

We lived on Cobblestone Ct then.  A smallish house with a small backyard. We gave her a bath and then planned her trip back to the shelter for her spay.

When we took her back for her spay, they found that she’d already had that surgery.  So she just suffered some anesthesia but that was it. We picked her back up and set up flyers, etc for her.

She had this habit of pulling on the leash, but it was always straight out to the side. Not in front but straight to the side. An aggravating issue but her most annoying one. She barely barked and it was several months before we actually heard her bark. We did however discover that she loved to tug. She would growl and bark with the toy in her mouth and play keep away for a bit, before she’d let you grab it and play tug with her. She loved her tug toys.


After a couple years, our dogs taught her how to bark at people at the door or leaves blowing across the yard or even just the wind. It was funny to us and amusing that our dogs had taught her to bark at stuff.

Another bad habit of hers was her begging at the table. It wasn’t bad but she would sit beside the table and stare at us. First one, then another of us and drool.  Oh goodness the drool. At her dinner time, she would sit in her spot and dance her feet and drool. Then she would shake her head and send the drool flying.  It was quite gross but funny too.  She would snatch food out of your hand really quickly and sometimes get your fingers. We had to teach her to take food gently and she got really good at that.  It took her until about 2009 before she quit staring at us at our dinner time.  🙂  We never encouraged the begging and certainly never rewarded it, but she was our constant dinner companion for many years.

It turned out that Tasha did not like Pepper. There was not all out aggression but Tasha did attack Pepper one winter while we were out playing in the snow. All of a sudden, Tasha grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her.  Tasha put two punctures in her shoulders which healed fine. After that we took great pains to make sure that Tasha learned to leave Pepper alone. Whenever Kris would play with Pepper, I would call Tasha to me.  Tasha wanted order and Pepper’s manner of playing with barks and growls was too much for her.  Tasha would run over to her and snarl but basically put all stop to play for Pepper. So we would alternately call Tasha over when Pepper wanted to play. In this manner we managed things and all the dogs lived in modest peace.

It also turns out that Pepper was allergic to everything. And I mean everything! Grass, cats, dust, grain, everything. Or at least according to her allergy blood test.  We spent a fair bit of money trying to get her coat better, get her to quit licking her paws till there was no fur left. To quit licking her butt as well.  We tried allergy pills and steroids as well as trying allergy shots. We finally got her on Atopica which did the most for her itching. She regrew her fur on her feet and around her butt. Her fur came in thick and long and kinda curly too. It was great to see her doing so well.

It was at that time that Kris and I were trying to downsize our lives because I hated my job, which was an hour away.  We had not planned to keep Pepper but had always felt no one would want her because the Atopica was very expensive.  But we tried again. We put an ad in the paper and it was actually answered.  We met the woman and her daughter at our house and then we dropped Pepper off for a week trial. They loved her and we thought she was good in her new home.

About a month later a friend asked us the woman’s name that adopted her.  We did a search on her name based on his prompting and found articles on her in the newspaper. Turns out she had charges pending for child abuse.  This was a Friday.  That evening we tried calling her. The number had been disconnected. So we went over to her house and told her that the Morgan County Humane Society was mad at us for not following protocol. We got Pepper back and with the help of the Morgan County shelter, we officially adopted her.

It took her a couple years before she would solicit pets from us. For a long time she would find a comfy spot off on her own in the house and nap. It was only when we were eating that she would come around.  The first few times she solicited us for pets, we were ecstatic!  We felt that she finally accepted us but it was definitely on her terms.

She was not big on walks or hikes.  Even off-leash.  This one time at Griffy, I took the 4 dogs for a hike and I “lost” Pepper on the first part of the trail. It turns out that she just went back to the gate area while I continued on with the other 3.  I knew she would wait by the gate, because she knew that’s where the car was.  Her collar had her name and my cell on it.  When I returned to the gate with the other 3, she was there waiting like I knew she would.  Once we returned home, my cell phone had a message from some concerned folks that they had “found” my dog.  I guess that is why there was a couple hovering around Pepper at the park when I returned.

We did downsize our house in 2006 and then in 2010, Kris and I got married in March.  In May, he moved to Oregon to start a business.  In June we drove the RV with Shadow and Pepper to Oregon. I stayed in Indiana until December with Kota and Tasha.

Two weeks after Thanksgiving 2010, Pepper was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She had been losing her appetite and losing weight. She also had this unproductive cough which was becoming more common.  Chest x-rays showed tumors in both lungs.  Nothing would cure the cancer for her, the best we could do was to make her comfortable.  She was on prednisone and herbs as well as antibiotics and her other supplements.

Kris flew to IN on the 22nd to help me drive out over Christmas break and our friends back in Oregon were taking her to the vets for her weekly blood tests.  On the 24th of December we got news from the vet that her platelets were at 38,000. Normal is 150,000 and risk of bleed out is in the high 20,000’s.  We cut the prednisone and did another blood test on the 26th which showed her platelets going back up.  Kris and I took off driving for Oregon the 27th.  It took us 4 days to drive the van with Kota and Tasha out.  We arrived on the 30th.

When we arrived, Shadow greeted us at the door, but Pepper was in the bedroom on the bed. When I walked in there and looked at her, I knew her days were numbered. She was breathing heavy and was so skinny.  So very skinny.  Her ribcage stuck out, her spine was easily visible and her hips could be easily felt.  Her breath was also raspy, which Kris said was a new symptom.

We went to bed that night with her between us on the bed and for over an hour, she lay panting between us, her breath heavy and raspy. We put her on the floor where it was a little cooler and she seemed to breath better.  Kris called the e-vet and there was nothing they could do.  She hadn’t eaten the dinner that our friends had fixed for her.

The next morning, Kris and I talked about our options.  We both felt that, even though it was a hard decision, it was time to let her go.  Her breathing was labored and she was quite weak. She could walk on her own, but was unstable.  She was only interested in the most appetizing foods, like my eggs for example.  Eating, drinking and walking around resulted in heavy panting.  Each breath was shallow and hard on her.

Kris made the appointment and we spent most of the day with her. Petting her, feeding her foods that she loved but would have never had otherwise.  When it was time, Kris carried her to the car and put her in my lap. From there we went to McDonald’s and got her a cheeseburger. She liked all but the ketchup and pickles.  🙂

She got to lay on an air bed at the vets while she went to sleep.  Kris and I on either side of her.  Her breathing got so much better and I knew we were doing the right thing, but oh it was so hard.  So very hard.  I hugged her tight afterwards because I was afraid of making her breathing worse had I done it before.  Leaving her there was the hardest part of all for me.

Pepper was a great dog.  She was friendly to everyone and every dog she met.  She was more interested in laying on couches and eating food, then in being petted or going for hikes.

I like to think that she is at the Rainbow Bridge with Niko and Maggie and that as Kris said, there are no slick floors.  No toenail cutting and no walks or hikes. Just comfy couches and plenty of food with the occasional tug game.  And if she so desires, some agility.

Run free and breath easy girl. You will be greatly missed.


Snow Day Fun…

Our first real snow of the season was on Saturday, December 4th.  I took the pups out back to play in the snow and below is a brief account of our escapades.

Are we gonna go play ma?

Yeah! Are we?

We’re ready!

After I took their leashes off once in the field… Zoom!!

Tasha going for the dance away move.

Then coming back in for the bite.

Flying in for the attack…

Dance away move again….

Stalemate as they both stick their tongues out at each other.

Then Tasha did some zoomies and I got Flying Tasha!

Snowy Kota. I really like this pic.

Sent them into the tunnel to get pics of them coming out.

Ok we’re ready to go inside now, it’s cold.

Overall a very fun time spent in the snow.

Then later, I get this from Kota. 🙁

Another emotional roller coaster

I know there will be lots of these in the next couple of months, heck probably the next year! but it still doesn’t mean I like them.

What I see when Skyping with Kris

And I’m pretty sure, as I’ve said before, they cycle with my cycle.  😉 Sorry guys.   So Saturday started out ok. I talked with Kris in our usual Sat morning coffee Skype, which was nice.  After that I had planned to get some yard work done but it was raining (which we badly needed!!) so no go there.  I packed some more stuff and that is when I began crying again.  I was packing up my shoes, ya know, the nice ones that I won’t be wearing for a while.  I also dug into my closet and pulled out some boots I haven’t worn in a while and packed those. Then I found the postcard.

It was from Kim Stritmater. A high school friend of mine that passed away in 2007 from cancer.  She was so young and so bubbly that it immediately brought tears to my eyes.

So it was a downward spiral from there. After a bit of crying and almost crying I took the dogs for a walk in the drizzly rain because I *had* to get out of the house.

I also decided that I didn’t need to spend the evening alone, so I went over to my sister’s house where she was having a PartyLite party.  For those of you that don’t know, it’s like Mary Kay, or Longaberger, or Tupperware or Pampered Chef. You have a party and if people buy stuff, you get discounts on your own product. Seems like they could just discount the product and be done with all that farce, but whatever.  It was a nice time and I’m glad I went.  I knew that Steph would understand if I didn’t buy anything and for that I am grateful to her. I did end up buying a candle snuffer. It’s one of those things that you think about buying when you’re blowing out your candles but not when you’re actually out in a store.

So now I will have a candle snuffer. Let’s just hope I remember to use it.

Sunday Kris and I chatted again via Skype and then I did go out and do that yard work stuff I wanted to get done. Basically it was to cut down the blackberries that had grown through my agility fence.  It didn’t take that long and I only received a few scratches on my hands. It was cool enough to wear heavy-ish clothing and my arms and legs are happy about that.  🙂

Then I had a lesson with Alicyn and Jess.  They are both great! Jess is a BC and is so pretty and so smart and just so much fun to play with. Alicyn is a great person and is really trying to keep her dog active and to work with her on even just the basic stuff.  They will go far together.

From there it was down hill again.  I was somewhat tired, my brain didn’t want to think and I hated how I was feeling. So I watched the last of my House DVD and then watched Harry Potter, which I’ve borrowed from my boss at work.  Love those movies!

I did the same thing on Monday.  Couldn’t bring myself to even think about boxes and packing or anything.

Same on Tuesday… do you see a trend?

However today, Wednesday, I am in a much better mood and actually feel like being productive and talking to people.  Which is more of how I prefer to feel.

What got me going on Sat and Sun talking to Kris, was thinking about reserving a truck or pods with which to ship all our crap.  On one of the sites there were some tips about what to leave out and how to pack and not screw up the packing. Such as make sure you have an alarm clock. Use paper plates for the last couple of meals.  Be sure your clothes and/or immediate necessities fit into your car/van/bags.  Clean your bathrooms, defrost your fridge, etc…. That is what got me depressed.

I mean, I’m planning to pack my crap over a weekend and then leave the following weekend. That’s a whole week that I won’t have my dresser or couches or even my bed! What should I sleep on? Do I leave the bed out and then pack it at the last minute the day I’m leaving?  Will all the clothes that I need fit in my bags and then in my car with me, a friend, 2 dogs and all their stuff, plus a 40 gallon tank with Mickey in it?  Ugh! It was too much at the time.

But I’m better now.  I hope.  I’ve also emailed my sister and brother-in-law to ask them if I could potentially crash at their place for those last few days. This would solve a few problems and also let me get the house cleaned up a bit too.  I’m waiting to hear from them and I’m sure I can probably find someplace else to crash for the week as well.

It will all work out.

I hope.

I’m going to begin signing off my posts in the manner of Susan Garrett.

Today I am thankful for the loving devotion of my dogs. Without their forgiveness for my moods and their readiness to snuggle at a moments notice, I’m not sure I would have survived these few months alone.

It has begun…

This morning began great! I got up and decided to have homemade biscuits for breakfast and then was looking forward to having “coffee” with Kris afterwards.  I always look forward to our calls.

We had a nice chat about his work, about my work and about my move out there.  That is when I started to get sad.  Thinking about all the stuff still needing to be done and needing to be packed before I move, is overwhelming sometimes.   I am prepared for it and have a plan but talking about it still is overwhelming.  Then of course comes the goodbye, which is always hard.  I would rather spend the day “connected” to him like that than do any yard work or packing or whatever, but stuff has to get done.

So I started to cry a little….  and then he started to cry a little… it’s a hard thing for the both of us and I really miss him.  But good bye we said and did.

Then I cleaned up the dog pen and “mowed” up the leaves in it.  My sister and her husband have generously paid for Habitat for Humanity to come to my house tomorrow and rake the rest of my yard for me.  This is especially good and awesome because today my riding mower seized and no longer runs.  So I couldn’t even mow the leaves into smaller piles first, to then rake them up, even if I wanted to. If there are more leaves after tomorrow that fall, then I will be raking them all by hand. Not a fun proposition.

After that and doing some other tidying up, such as taking the numbers down off the fence in the agility field and then moving equipment from the small field to the big field, I took the dogs to Leonard Springs Nature Park for a walk. It was still nice out and I figure we won’t have many  more of those left this year so we took advantage of it. I’m glad we did because both pups are sound asleep right now.  🙂

Once we got back, I showered and then began packing stuff.  I started in the hallway and took down all the pictures and ribbons hanging up in the hallway, as well as some ribbons in my dressing room.  I then collected other pictures and such from around the house to fill out the box I was putting them in. Turns out Kris’ Star Wars picture won’t fit in the box, nor will the wolf picture from the living room, so those will have to find another box later. But a lot of other pictures are now packed up.  I then tackled Kris’ closet.  I cleared out the top of his closet and packed it all into a box.

After that I made dinner and now I’m blogging.  Enjoying a beer and going to watch House from Netflix.

The other thing that has begun is the transition and move of the club.  What club? The Flying Paws Agility Club.  I began the club in 2007 to try to create a group of like-minded individuals and their dogs to hang out, learn from each other and become friends.  What it became was me teaching folks and running the whole thing despite asking for help all the time.  It wasn’t until this year when I told the club I was planning to move to Oregon, that people began to step up and take over stuff.

Sure I may not have pushed hard enough to get people to help or step up. I may have made things worse for myself by always picking up the slack whenever it was needed, but I did ask for help all the time.  Frequently even.

So now there is a new president and a new group taking over the club. The equipment and fencing will be moved to storage for the winter time and I will probably never see those items again.  I am sad for that.  I will miss seeing the dogwalk and aframe in my backyard.  I will miss teaching all the wonderful people and their dogs that I have met over the years.  I will miss being active in a sport I enjoy very much.

So it has begun….

  • the move of the club away from my control
  • the packing of my life’s posessions in preparation to move across the country
  • the planning and scheduling of where, how and when I will make the trek across this great nation.