our beloved pepper had to be put to sleep last night. she was over 14 years old. pepper came into our lives long before the dawn of the digital camera, but that didn't stop us from documenting her puppyhood. she was our everything. however cliche it sounds, she truthfully was our pride & joy. i couldn't wait to get home to see her, to walk her, to sing to her, to cuddle with her.
i remember the day we picked her out. jules and i were playing volleyball with our high school team in gouverneur, NY. it was 1995 -- i was a junior and jules a freshman. i usually sat the bench and wished the game to be finished, and that day was no exception. this time i was eager for the game to end so that we could go see the litter of new mini schnauzer puppies.
we picked pepper out, and struggled with names. i believe chloe and snickers were top-runners, but derek came up with the name that fit her so well.
pepper liked to hide in our garden, stretch out with her long legs (we called her long dog), and take long, luxurious naps.
we posed with her with our prom dates, we dressed her up, we gave her nicknames -- champ (that was the time period that she wore a medal around her neck), shithead (that was the time period when she had a few accidents), pepperdini, pep.
she loved chewing on and ripping apart slippers. one christmas we bought her her very own pair of pink piggy slippers to destroy as she pleased. she was our baby to spoil and love, and we couldn't have been happier.
i'm sure you've all heard this story, but i have to retell it. after pepper was over a year old, mom & dad thought it would be superfun to breed her and have more mini-schnauzer puppies. i was horrified by the thought of my poor, innocent little pepper being molested and raped, and i cried and cried when we dropped her off at the breeders.
she came back a "woman," and she was indeed, "knocked up." i still claim that it changed her -- she was moody and grumpy and snappy, and not the same sweet innocent pepper puppy that she had been. but she was still our pepper.
she gave birth to 6 puppies -- 5 girls and 1 boy. jennie and derek got cocoa (whom they still have and who just ate a whole leftover turkey carcas by standing on the garbage pedal and stealthily removing the remains -- that cost her a night in the ER and jennie & derek an arm and a leg. but really, what wouldn't we do for our animals?). mom and dad kept wilbur, the runt, who pepper one day mistakenly crushed. mom and dad gave him mouth to snout resuscitation and he's been slightly braindead and always hungry ever since.
when i returned from the peace corps after two and a half years of being away, pepper greeted me with howls of happiness. we'd never heard her be so vocal before -- she yelped and yelped at me, as if she was telling me to never ever go away for so long ever again.
at one point, our family had 5 mini-schnauzers. we used to play the "guess the schnauzie" game. one could always tell it was pepper because she licked you immediately.
i said goodbye to pepper when i left malone after christmas a few weeks ago. i had a feeling it might be the last time i saw her. she gave me a lick and i gave her a kiss. she'll always be my best schnauzer girl with 4 legs. i feel sad for me, and i feel sad for wilbur, but most of all i feel sad for my mom and dad. they had her in their everyday lives the longest, and things won't be the same around 23 park street for a little while.
thank you mom and dad for letting pepper into our lives. she taught us how to love and how to care for someone other than ourselves. we will love and miss you forever pep!