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Friday, June 2, 2023


Peppy and me: my dog changed how I view life

Peppy final

Peppy’s arrival to Ken’s family seemingly cured his pneumonia. | Art by Herschel Levin/The Cougar

About 12 years ago, I was in the hospital nearly dead from a repeat bout of pneumonia. One day, my wife and son walked into my room carrying a wrapped up bundle, and when they handed it to me, to my surprise I unwrapped a beautiful little Jack Russell Terrier puppy who my son named Peppy.

My health started to improve and on the third day that Peppy came to visit me in hospital, I had her snuggled under the covers when my doctor came to visit.  Seeing Peppy, he lost it. You see, it turns out that one of his jobs at that hospital was sanitation officer. No pets or other animals were allowed in the hospital.

On that day, my doctor stopped being my personal physician. He dropped me as a patient despite many years in that capacity.

That didn’t stop Peppy’s hospital visits, however. She came to be well known and loved by the security personnel, the nurses, some doctors and many other workers at the hospital who would often ask “is Peppy coming today?” or, “what time will Peppy be here?”

Peppy came to us at the same time that George W. Bush was president. Whenever Bush came on the television, Peppy would react by jumping up and down and barking ferociously. When people asked us about her reaction, we would assure them that Peppy was not political and that we did not know whether the reaction was positive or negative toward the president.

When I got home from the hospital, my wife and son got another puppy, a boy named Willy.  Despite my urging to take quick action and get both dogs fixed, they procrastinated long enough to allow for one litter of four pups before taking the preventative action I had suggested.

Both dogs became integral parts of our family and slept on our bed with us.

But Peppy had special duties. When a family member was feeling bad or sick, Peppy seemed to have some kind of healing power.

Peppy was also independent.  When we opened a bag of doggy treats, Willy would perk up and come running, begging for his treat.  Peppy, on the other hand, would glance over with a look that said, “Do you have something for me? Then you bring it to me.”

On one occasion, before she was full grown, I was walking Peppy when a large Rottweiler approached us in a less-than-friendly manner. Peppy lit into that large dog — protecting me, I believe — and chased that poor animal until its owner finally rescued it.

She knew no fear.

At 12 years, both dogs were growing old, something that I can relate to. Last week, it was obvious that Peppy was ill, so my wife and son took her to the vet.  They came home with word that they had a three-month supply of pain and comfort medications, but that Peppy was dying and could go at any time, at any minute.

I sat back on my bed and Peppy cuddled up to my side. I believe Peppy came home from her veterinarian just to say good-bye to me, and as she lay there beside me, cuddled close the way she liked, with me scratching her ear, she left us.

Peppy died as she began with our family, cuddled up to me. I can tell you, as a senior individual, an old man, I have suffered many losses of those who I love, and it never gets easier.

Peppy is and will be missed. My heart is again broken, but I am not alone.  Peppy’s body was laid to rest under a tree in our backyard, but she is still alive in our hearts.  We have made adjustments with Willy and have to be careful that he is not over-fed or pampered, but he is getting double doses of love.

Opinion columnist Ken Levin is a political science senior and may be reached at [email protected]


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