Last Wednesday morning, Spencer came home to find our toy poodle, Pepper, dead in the road. Whomever did it didn’t leave a note or come up to let my in-laws know (it happened in front of their house too). The person just kept on going. There is no excuse for accidently killing a pet and not stop to apologize.
The rest of us were at market when he told us. Meredith cried and Xavier questioned why it had happened. Why had it happened? Our road is private, but there is an easement for all the other houses at the other end of the loop to get through. They fly down our road disturbing our free-range chickens and escapee ducks. The dogs are left to roam in order to keep away predators both day and night. They also dislike cars going by as this is their territory and their livestock they must protect. It is a job they all take seriously.
Poor Pepper, was a very old dog who’d had a rough life spent mostly in a puppy mill in a small rabbit cage being breed repeatedly. She’d been abused, that much was obvious by her demeanor. She was not house-trained, but we got her to be better at it the longer we had her. She disliked being touched or even being the center of attention. But she was content sitting with her tail wagging, watching the bigger dogs play or lying in the grass as the breeze caressed her fur. I think she really liked outside. There was always something new for her. It was like she was a puppy again.
Wednesday morning was the first dry day we’d had all week. Pepper must have been sunning herself on the dry asphalt when someone came barreling down the road. When Spencer found her, our Chow-mix, Ida was keeping watch over Pepper’s body, protecting her.
We are considering what to do. How to solve this problem. This isn’t the first time someone has hit our animals. Regardless of fencing, animals find a way. So if we don’t do something, I’m afraid it will be one of my children next. We have a few ideas in the works and hopefully one of them works.
Telling the children the dog was dead was nothing compared to them actually seeing her being buried in the orchard that night. We placed her next to Brittany, another dog we had who was killed due to complications from being hit by a car last summer. Spencer had watched that one happen and he’d run the lady down since she’d tried to flee the scene. She’d claimed she hadn’t seen the dog. No wonder, she’d been going around 50 mph at the time. He’d got a semi-apology out of her before she drove off, and we’ve never seen her drive by since.
At eventide Wednesday, we huddled around a crude hole under the peach tree, and placed Pepper in the ground while both Meredith and Xavier cried. They threw a little dirt over her and we each said something that we liked about her. Then we said a prayer. Bedtime was very morose.
Then, the next day, through some miraculous circumstances, some old college friends of ours announced they were moving to Utah. They couldn’t take their cat and dog. So last Sunday we went over and picked up the newest members of the family: Chloe the beagle-mix and Mahana, the fat, fat cat. We have kept Chloe at our house, much to my children’s delight. And Mahana has found a home with my in-laws. MaryAnn had been wanting a cat for some time. Mahana gets her name from a short film that came out in the late 60s, called Johnny Lingo about self-worth. Check it out if you have a minute or 23.
Chloe is very patient, she loves Meredith and Xavier’s affection and attention and she gets along with our other dogs. We couldn’t have asked for a better pet. Chloe is not a replace for Pepper, she will always be special to us, just like Brittany. But love is a strange thing, it doesn’t get diluted or redistributes percentages down the more things are loved. Love just grows. As we walked down to the orchard that night, the kids had deiced to bury her under the peach tree so her body would bring it nutrients. We were “growing a dog,” they said. And I love that.