Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pepe

“The dog of your boyhood teaches you a great deal about friendship, and love, and death: Old Skip dog was my brother. They had buried him under our elm tree, they said - yet this wasn't totally true. For he really lay buried in my heart.”         - Willie Morris

Our sweet Pepe died the week I was gone. He's been on his last leg for the last couple of months and really deteriorated that week. Ryan called me and said he felt we needed to put him down. That he was suffering and was too good a dog to end like that. He buried him in the back yard and in a way it was easier for me not to be here. I'd told him goodbye before heading out of town because he didn't look and hasn't since the first of April. Sweet Pepe lived a good nearly 14 years, and I'm glad he's not suffering. But I'm so sad for me. Ryan and I adopted him in college, and he's been with us through three houses, five higher education degrees, two children and countless bags of popcorn and oatmeal cookies. In a way, though, it was his own last way of taking care of me one more time. I'm so thankful he lived long enough for Caroline to know him. "Go see Pepe" is her favorite thing to ask to do. He was the best first dog for our children; even if they won't really remember him. He taught them that good dogs are loyal and kind and don't mind if you decide to drape yourself right over them.


We adopted Pepe Labor Day weekend 2003. He was a scrappy little thing way outside the cute puppy stage. He left a trail of black hair everywhere that would be the bain of my existence for the next 14 years. Ryan was a freshman and I was a sophomore at Ole Miss. Pepe spent a good bit of time being sneaked onto the Tri Delt floor of Crosby. 


He loved to play hide 'n seek, could fit THREE tennis balls in his mouth at once and chewed through every window seal in our first house in Oxford. He also ate the bathroom cabinet. I am his person. He likes Ryan, but not in the same protect-at-all-costs way. Once shortly after we married, I was walking in the late afternoon. Pepe usually went with me, but was never on a leash. He'd wander around but stay close. At the top of our street was a house with a huge dog on a heavy chain. He would bark and lunge against the chain anytime anyone walked by. One day I'd passed the house and heard the chain snap. Before I could even process what was happening, a streak of black raced past me and Pepe had the dog (three times his size) pinned down on ground by his neck. I didn't stick around to see, but he came trotting back to our house a few minutes later like always. 


Fort Morgan was his happy place. There was no wave too big nor a beach too nice to take a squat. He also loved the Belhaven pond for a quick swim on Sunday afternoons when their security guy would turn a blind eye to the neighborhood dogs going for a dip. We took him canoeing a couple of times and once some (slightly inebriated LSU) students mistook him for a bear. On another canoe trip in Arkansas with our friends, Daniel and Rhetta, Pepe kept dumping our canoe over as only a 90 pound dog can do. After about the fifth time, he swam over to Daniel and hopped in his canoe like "my people are terrible at this."


The day we brought Caroline home. He immediately sat down by her basket!

 

Always watching - this is at our Jackson house. He loved that we lived on a busy corner and stayed looking out the front window when he wasn't out on the porch. I once had a stranger stop me in the grocery store and ask me if I was the girl with the big black dog. I confirmed and quickly added that he was as protective as he looked. The whole exchange really freaked me out!


On the day we brought Caroline home from the hospital, Pepe gave her a good sniff and then just settled right beside her like he'd been expecting her to come along. The first time she crawled was towards him. Here's a video. I love that the last dog of my childhood (because we can all agree that at 20 you are still a child), was the first of hers. Our gentle giant never knocked her over or stepped on a tiny hand. If this was a slide show of his life, the theme song from Friends would be playing...bow wow old friend, bow wow.

Fun posts about Pepe & Scout:
http://whitehouseredroof.blogspot.com/2011/09/scout-vs-ravine.html

Halloween: http://whitehouseredroof.blogspot.com/2011/10/we-have-crossed-over.html


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