As most of you know, our senior dog of 17 years, Juarez (aka Pepper), passed away this week. Having had her for the past 11 formative years of my life, it is so strange (and difficult) not having her around. So for those of you that don't know the story of how I got Pepper, I thought that would be a good post for tonight.
I went to grad school in Richmond, Virginia. Shortly after graduating (I think I was still in training?), I moved into an apartment that allows dogs. Needless to say, I was at a point in my life where not only did I want another dog, I needed one as well. And...I've always been a sucker for special needs dogs. So I was surfing on the web and found this great little 3-legged dog. I contacted the rescue to see if I could meet her, and they said that she was being adopted out by this lady (we'll call her Magda to protect the innocent) and that I needed to contact her. So, I contacted Magda, and made arrangements to go meet the tripod. Now Magda had a lot of dogs--in fact, she ran her own rescue out of her house. Time and knowledge has made me realize in reflection that she was (or is), in all likelihood, a hoarder. And like most animal hoarders, I truly do believe she means the best for her animals. She just doesn't have the resources to take care of them all and in the end, it can be an ugly thing. She was very protective of her animals--in fact, she didn't think I would be a good fit to take care of the tripod (she had part of her intestines removed because she ate her collar--this was the concern, not the lack of leg). Looking back, I realize that there was probably no one good enough in Magda's mind to take care of Tripod. But that is okay--because it leads to the next part of the story.
So Magda says to me "there's another dog here I'd like you to meet" and she goes to let him out of an enclosed area where there are about 10 dogs are milling about. The dog comes bolting out and races across the lawn, happy as a clam to be free. Completely ignores me. I was squatting down on the ground watching him zoom around when suddenly a little black dog comes and crawls into my lap; turns out, she had escaped with Happy Boy when the gate opened. That little dog was Pepper. She chose me. How could I say no? Pepper had been with Magda since she was a pup. She was 6 when I adopted her; that tells you a lot about Pepper. She had been adopted out once before but did not get a long with the person's dogs--turns out when the other dogs were getting petted, Pepper would squeeze in between so that she would be the one getting petted. She was used to fighting for attention--you would be too if you lived with dozens of other dogs for your entire life. I was a naive dog owner, and Pepper never got any sort of training. She did not like other dogs, and I didn't trust her around all people. In other words, she was far from perfect. And perfect at the same time.
And that is the story of how I got Juarez, the cartel leader who took a large piece of me and my heart when she left us.
|Juarez, taken this summer by Paige Reyes|