21 August 2007
Pepper Miller, March 31, 1996 - August 18, 2007
Pepper, a red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, came to us from a pet store, most likely the product of a puppy mill. We also brought home her littermate sister, Ginger. They were both four weeks old, and had been separated until we made the purchase, when they were overjoyed to see each other again. The more lively puppy was named Pepper, and her sister, who tended to be more casual, became Ginger.
Pepper was my shadow. She looked to me to protect her from other dogs; she was scared to death of them, and would jump into my arms if any came near her. We tried to take them to parks for walks, but unleashed dogs brought that to a halt. She also hated kennels, so she only stayed in one when she was sick or going to have her teeth cleaned. When we traveled, rather than put the two of them in a kennel, they stayed in their own home and a neighbor came in to care for them.
Every morning, we would put them up on the counter in the laundry room where Grandma would brush their teeth and I would brush their coats. Baths were every other week, and I made sure to clean the patio beforehand of the particulates that landed there (Arizona air is noted for particulates). Otherwise, they would come in almost as dirty as before their bath.
The window sill in the front room was just the right height for them to lie down with their heads resting on it. Whenever we went away, they would both wait in the front window for us. In recent months, though, when Ginger came into the room, Pepper would leave. There seemed to be some unsaid understanding between them that Ginger had the say about that.
We have a dog door in our bedroom that was put in for our Siberian Husky, who had passed away several years before Pepper and Ginger came to us. When we first brought them home, they wouldn’t use it. It took a few minutes to realize their legs were too short; their bellies would scrape on the bottom, so I installed a ramp. Pepper was leery of it until I covered it with some old towels; after that she would come and go at her leisure.
Pepper enjoyed being outside. We had a game of “catch me” that we played on the patio: she would run around the furniture and I would run after her to try to catch her. Usually after a few turns she would declare the game over and wait for an ear scratch or a back rub.
In the morning, as soon as they were allowed to go out, Pepper would survey the yard, making sure neither feline nor fowl trespassers lingered. She always went to the far ends of the yard to do her “business” and tried to make sure nobody was watching. (Ginger, on the other hand, felt that anywhere out the door was fair game for her toilet.)
Several years ago, Pepper suffered two torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL), which were repaired, after which she was able to run and play with no signs of injury. She had lost several teeth over the years, found during her annual teeth cleaning at the Veterinarian’s hospital. And she was gradually turning grey around her muzzle and ears.
About two weeks ago, she seemed to lose her energy and her appetite. X-rays were taken, during which we found that she had a dislocated right hip. At first, she was diagnosed with a kidney problem and she was treated for that, to no avail. A subsequent ultrasound examination showed no signs of organ problems or cancer tumors. After being examined at three animal hospitals and by ten Veterinarians, it was finally determined that she was not able to keep up a blood supply; either her immune system was attacking her blood cells or her bone marrow was not making sufficient blood. There was no good treatment option that would bring her back to health, so we visited with her one last time. She gave me a couple of goodbye kisses and then we held her to the end. She will be cremated and her ashes spread around the yard.