In the Spring of ’02, Joanne mentioned that she thought that since the cats weren’t willing to be herded around the yard by Penny, a border collie, Penny needed a dog-buddy to hang out with. So she let some friends know she was on the lookout for a dog or puppy to bring in to our tranquil home. Then one day we were at our attorney’s when his daughter (and secretary) said, “Oh, I’ve just taken in this sweet little dog I found walking around our neighborhood. I put up signs saying “Found Dog” with her picture, but nobody’s claimed her yet – why don’t you come meet her?” (in hindsight, “nobody’s claimed her” was an obvious – if overlooked – omen of things to come.)
So a meeting was set and before you know it, she came to live at our house. Neither of the cats were impressed but Penny appeared cautiously optimistic about her new play friend – lots of happy dog-yelping sounds and running around the back yard. When it came to picking names, despite Joanne’s hints that it might be too many “P’s” in one household, I thought that given her jet black color, Pepper would be a good fit.
Ok, so we’ve got Delilah, Pandora, Penny and Pepper. (Like asking for directions, even though I knew we had too many P’s, I couldn’t bring myself to say the words every wife would love to hear, “I was wrong about the P-thing – let’s name her Bridget” or something that doesn’t begin with a P.” what a ninny.)
I’ve gotta say that despite my early misgivings about adding another dog to the mix, except for a few minor initial hiccups, things seemed to be heading in the right direction. Sadly, that initial honeymoon quickly turned into a very slippery slope to hell.
What kind of hiccups, did you say?
Well, to start with, she wasn’t house broken. That bothered me more than a little bit and it really pissed off the cats, who had the nearest-to-the-carpet noses in the house. Aside from that, Pepper seemed ok. Many neighbors stopped by to meet the new family member and when they asked her name, I’d say, “her name’s Pepper” and there were smiles all-round.
We began begin slipping off the happy-track not long after that because whenever we went to let her in the house, instead of sitting down (or even just standing there) and waiting for us to open the door, she would levitate to my shoulder height without ever twitching a muscle.
Not bend her legs and spring or leap up, but levitate, as if Houdini and Copperfield were just out of sight and controlling her every move.
It was bizarre and if I do say so myself, more than a little freaky. (Kinda of like watching Al Gore in anything related to the Oscars – how the hell does that happen?) No amount of talking nicely to her or giving her gentle voice / hand commands or speaking in a loud voice had any impact on her. It was amazing and really freaky. While this initially caused me untold amounts of anxiety and stress, I eventually convinced myself she’d grow out of it. (As of this writing, she hasn’t, but thanks for asking.)
Then one day not long after she came to live with us, I was out in the backyard and found one of my bicycle shoes sitting on the deck, all chewed up. That had never happened before. A few minutes later, I found pieces of my bike gloves – and snowboarding gloves – scattered around the back lawn.
Uh oh, I’m seeing a pattern here.
Another 20 steps toward the boat and darned if I didn’t find my $150 bike helmet shredded as if thrown in a chipper. Holy smokes – what’s going on here? As I looked around, I could see several of the sprinkler heads – brass and plastic, alike – chewed up and scattered around the lawn.
And over there, hanging off the boat trailer – what’s that?Closer inspection of the boat / trailer revealed that “something” had not only chewed all of the wiring harness off the trailer but the fresh-water brake wash down and its hose connectors right off the trailer.
When I total that one day’s “puppy action”, I get:
* bike shoes – $150
* bike helmet – $150
* bike gloves – $75
* boat trailer wiring harness – $325
* fresh-water wash down – $225
* lawn sprinkler heads – $37
Damn near $1,000 worth of puppy teething exercise – not bad for one morning’s work, eh?
Amazingly, we got through the Pepper-puppy years.
It’s been 5 1/2 years now and every time I’m asked her name I reply, “Her name’s Pepper do you want her” not so much a question as a statement.