Well, today was hard!

About 12 years ago she was just taking a nap in the middle of the street.  I opened my door because streets aren’t typically good places for dogs to take naps.  I was reluctant, but she just jumped right in like we were already best friends.

I drove her to the Humane Society, only to find out that the branch was closing down, any dogs not adopted would have to be put to sleep.  I wasn’t planning on adopting a dog, but the universe had a different plan.  My dream dog was a border collie, this idea was put into my head when I was very young by my dad who had always claimed that border collies were the smartest dogs in the whole world.

He wasn’t wrong, Pepper, a nine-month-old border collie, had just accepted my unintentional application for partnership.  It wasn’t always roses and buttholes (I put buttholes in there because Pepper’s preferences for smell are a little different than mine).  Pepper used to suffer from horrible separation anxiety, and within in a week of moving in together, she had broken the welds off her metal kennel, ripped the blinds off every window, pulled the cable wire through the wall, and ultimately cost nearly $1,000 in damages to an apartment that we would move out of in less than a month.  Goodbye security deposit.

In the new house, she was there to help with every step of the remodel.  It was so helpful when she ran up the stairs as I was carrying an old (water filled) toilet down the stairs…I guess redoing the downstairs floors was the right move anyway.  Thanks Pep!  It was interesting when she fell asleep against the freshly painted wall, most people don’t know that border collies can come in avocado green.

As we got more comfortable with our new place and our new routine, we developed a bond that goes beyond any that I could explain!  Every morning I wake up to a cold nose just barely touching my cheek.  She is always there at the window to greet me when I come home from school.  We rush up to change clothes and our daily adventures would finally commence.  Hitting the trails was the best.  So many birds and squirrels to chase, other dogs to yell at, and smells (NOT ROSES) to roll in!

We’ve covered thousands and thousands of miles, no weather can stop us, except maybe thunderstorms. Thunderstorms always turn Pepper right back into that anxious nine-month-old border collie, although she always does her best to be strong.

But today was hard.

I don’t think that the person who said that ‘dogs are man’s best friend’ understood just how unique the relationship between humans and dogs actually is.  To call Pepper my best friend is such a gross understatement of our relationship.  Having a dog is a commitment that people don’t usually engage in with other people.  I’ve never lived with a friend rent free, I’ve never cleaned poop from a friend’s fur, and I’ve never had a friend sit beneath my feet as I read books deep into the night, or wrote papers, or graded exams.  I’ve never known a person (friend or not) who doesn’t judge.  Dogs are so much more than friends.  So much more than family.  The relationship between a dog and their human is unlike anything else in the world, I don’t think there is word for it, I don’t think there should be.  ‘Best friend’ isn’t even close, but maybe it’s as close as the limits of our language will allow.

Today was hard!

I’ve been studying philosophy for my entire adult life, I love it, but there isn’t much in the discourse on how to emote properly, and I don’t have much practice, I’m just not very good at it.  I can usually get away with a stupid joke or a misdirection, but it doesn’t seem like jokes and misdirections work when I am the one at the center of the pain?

Today I held Pepper as she took her last breath.  The cancerous tumor that we removed four days ago clearly wasn’t enough as it had already spread into her lungs.  I feel like I lost the most important part of myself today, and I don’t know what to do? 

As I was driving home from the vet sitting next to an empty collar a song lyric popped into my head, I have been playing that song on repeat ever since.  As I look at the “noser” smears on the window near the driveway, the random Pepper furs (everywhere), the full food and water dishes, and the empty place on the floor beneath my feet as I write these words, a seemingly meaningless song has gained significance.

You’re so nice and you’re so smart, you’re such a good friend I have to break your heart.  I’ll tell you that I love you and I’ll tear your world apart, just pretend I didn’t tear your world apart.1

I know she had to go, my heart is broken, my world is torn apart.  Despite the hurt, I wouldn’t change a thing, and I promise to do my best to just pretend that my world isn’t torn apart.

Today was hard.

But tomorrow I have to wake up without a cold wet nose bopping me on the cheek, and I don’t know how to do that?

  1. Kimya Dawson – So Nice So Smart. 

56 Replies to “Pepper”

  1. The threads of love that tie you to Pepper have been really, really stretched by her leaving, but not broken and that hurts. Although not in body, Pepper is but a beautiful thought away. 🤎

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Been there. The difficult ones hurt the most. Ruby and Rusty replaced my little heart dog Cromwell. One of many rescued heart dogs. Someone once told me losing one opens the door to rescue another. Each of my hiking buddies will live on in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My heart breaks for you, I’m notready to lose my aging 💔 pup…

    I’m so sorry…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel so sad having read your post. Sorry for your loss. I don’t have a pet but some of my family do, and I appreciate how much they love them. I feel sure your Pepper had a wonderful, comfortable life full of love; may that be your consolation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Our hearts (mine, Bear’s and Teddy’s) go out to you, Carrot. I know from experience that the ONE gift we can give our dog that equals their love for us is what you did, holding Pepper in her last moments. I’m no good at emotions, either, but that one I get. I hope another dog comes along looking for you at the right moment. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome words for a such a strong bond. Can so relate to the emotion. Feels like the day hasn’t started when they haven’t nudged you or crashed something. You will be adopted again. Keep pretending your heart isn’t broken because she wouldn’t have let you sit and mope.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, oh, oh, I’m so sorry. Beautifully written post – I love the story about how you got Pepper. So amazing that you understood the Universe was giving you a beautiful friend and rolled with it. Losing our soul-dog-mates is so hard and even though we know how the story is going to end, we all hope it isn’t going to happen to our beautiful friend. Reminds me of a quote from Sandi Lynn, “At some point, you have to realize that some people can stay in your heart but not in your life.” Grieve well, my friend, and know that Pepper will stay in your heart forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Grieving pets isn’t the same as grieving the loss of another person. It really does strike us in deep and resonant ways. They see us at our goofiest, saddest, hopeful and nakedness selves. I am so sorry for your loss of Pepper.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is so hard. I have been there with the lung cancer. It was our golden retriever. I’m sorry for your loss.


  10. The most loving thing we do for our pets is also the most difficult. Fond memories will keep Pepper remembered. Soon all the memories will only bring smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So sorry for your loss. We lost two of ours in the last two years. It is painful, I know. We still haven’t replaced them and not ready to yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I knew what happened with the title of the post. Having lost our dog, Candy, last September, I can empathize with every feeling you expressed. Ours too was a “fate” meeting.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know Pepper was a special dog…look who she picked to spend her life with!! She was smart because not all dog owners welcome the challenges of smelly dogs with poop- (or paint) encrusted fur and all of the rest. Hopefully the hole in your heart will decrease over time and memories will be less painful.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh my…I can relate, and I am so very sorry. It took me about three years before I could even TALK about my first canine BFF after he died. His death was horrible and traumatic, he suffered cruelly, and had I to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I’d have had him put down…it was AWFUL seeing him suffer. Losing your Pepper is going to take some time. Let the grief move through you. It is tough. My sincere condolences 💐😞

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I know exactly how you feel. My border collie was Maggie and she lived to be 15. She’s been gone 6 years and is still missed. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I know this pain, and I know how hard it can be to emote. Sorry you’re there right now. It’s probably good for you in all the worst ways. Dog relationships are really intense,mostly I think, because they don’t talk too much and ruin everything. It makes them extra good company.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Awww. I still miss Boa Cat. We got her as a pound kitten. I wanted her because she purred the instant you picked her up, this little brown black ball of fur. I put her to sleep last February because she was becoming poop incontinent. We had done basic labs, and the vet said he could do endoscopy and put her on steroids… no, because that in turn causes intestinal bleeding and diabetes and I KNOW she hates taking pills… let her go, let her go, God bless her. I buried her in the back yard with the other pound kitten, who was killed by a car at about age 10. Boa was 15 or 16.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sorry to read your sad news. My Collie ‘Mist’ is 13 now and just starting to show her age – she’s still good for a whole day on our Welsh mountains but I sometimes have to give her a shove from behind when we reach a rock step. She had a tumour removed 6 months ago and so far so good, but something else will be waiting for her, as it will be for all of us. They are with us for such a short time but stay with us for ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is such a horrible thing. Particularly when you have such a remarkable and special relationship as the one you’ve described. She was lucky to have you as a human companion. Pepper was a very cute creature. Un abrazo.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am so sorry for your loss! I can totally relate to your story, to your feelings, to your way of seeing the relation between humans and dogs! I had to put my dear Nemo to sleep. Since then, I feel his presence every day. Literally. It is like he watches over me from above. A good friend of mine told me that I was blessed with another angel to take care of me from other realms. In your case it is the same: You were blessed with another angel to watch over you! And she’ll do a great job! Sending you much love and strength to get over this hard time!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m so sorry for your loss. I honestly feel it. This piece of writing brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine how lonely you must feel. I am so sorry. 🖤

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Grief is the price of love. Everything that gives us hope we have to pay back at the end. What we did with what we had makes all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. When I saw I’m sorry for your loss, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Dogs have a way of working their way right into the deepest corners of our heart. A significant portion of my job was spent working with my dog, and when he passed it left a hole that hasn’t quite been filled. But those memories are amazing and that’s what it’s all about!

    Liked by 1 person

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