April 20, 2000 --- January 31, 2012


The day after I graduated from 4th grade, my parents, my brother, and I made a trip to Elk Horn, Iowa to pick up our miniature schnauzer puppy, Pepper. Pepper was such a happy and playful puppy and she was the best thing that ever happened to me. The first night we got her, Alex and I built a fort and Pepper slept with us. She cried all night long to get me to take her out of her kennel. From that very first night, she had complete control over me. Her "small dog sydrome" already kicked in, but I loved that about her. I was on swim team that summer and always had to go to the pool, but I never wanted to leave Pepper. I remember the first couple of days she followed me around like I was her mommy. She never wanted to leave me.

Pepper loved her toys, especially anything that squeaked. We named all of her toys squeakers, and when we said "Where is squeakers" she would search the house. She loved to run more than anything. Whenever she had the opportunity to sneak out of the house and run around the neighborhood, she would. And she would nearly give me a heart attack every single time. She would always come back, but that 10 minutes where she sprinted as fast as she could, too fast for me to every catch her, she was on top of the world.

Pepper was an extremely territorial dog. I think she enjoyed walkies so much because that was her time to go use the restroom in the yards of other homes that had dogs. The majority of Pepper's life she was not well behaved around dogs. I think that is mostly our fault for not exposing her to other dogs at a younger age. But Pepper's last four or so years she because tolerable around other dogs. That is not to say she enjoyed them, but she didn't get all worked up. She came boating with us, and there were lots of dogs around that she got use to. She liked being the center of attention when we went boating, but she hated the water.

When I drove from Iowa to Maryland for the summer, I was delighted to have Pepper join me on the journey. Although she did not stay the whole summer with me, it was very comforting to have her with me when I lived in a foreign city for the first time.

Pepper loved to go on runs more than anything. I started running with Pepper on a daily basis when I started college, when she was around 8. She absolutely loved it. She knew when we were going to go running and she got so excited. We would run in the morning and she would wake me up every morning, ready to go. She would sprint from me to the door, back and forth until we went. Pepper ran 3 miles a day with me up until her last month, when she got sick.

Shortly after the new year in 2012 Pepper suddenly got sick. This was not a gradual thing, she went from being a perfectly healthy dog with no signs of old age, to a sick little dog. Since it was so sudden, I thought she might have just ate something bad. She completely stopped eating and just laid around a lot. On January 11, I noticed she was having trouble breathing so I took her into her vet. The vet took x-rays, of which you couldn't see anything because her whole chest and lungs was filled with fluid, which explained the breathing difficulties. The vet drained the fluid and then took another set of x-rays. A tumor was then identified in her upper chest, which the vet said was responsible for secreting the fluid. Next I was told the worst news I could imagine, that Pepper had cancer and she probably only had 2 to 3 months left.

I was very upset with this news, I cried all night. I did many research online and read stories about feeding your dog a natural diet could help. I immediately went to the store and got veggies, ground turkey, oats, and brown rice, and whipped Pepper up a ton of natural dog food. I also started feeding Pepper lots of blueberries and yogurt. I was hoping the antioxidents from the blueberries would fight the cancer cells. Although, Pepper no longer had the lung capacity to run, I still took her on several walks a day because she still loved them. One morning she collapsed on the walk while barking at a neighbor dog. I was thought she had died and I picked her up and began running home, but she started breathing again much to my relief. I called the vet and he said her lungs just couldn't handle it and I could come in and get her drained again. So I did that, and I continued getting her drained every week. Pepper was even acting like her normal self again, back in the kitchen with us ready to eat anything she could get her paws on.

I was doing anything I could to keep Pepper comfortable. I was determined to have her live another couple years. I wanted her to be the flower girl in my wedding in 2013. I even scheduled an appointment for Pepper to see a specialist at Iowa State and talk about surgery and chemo. Unfortunately, Pepper took a turn for the worse on January 31, just two days before this appointment. Pepper was having extreme difficulties breathing. I could tell how bad it was when she wouldn't eat lunch or wouldn't walk when we went outside. All day she didn't lay down because it was too hard for her to breathe. I decided to take her to the vet to get drained, hoping that would help until Thursday when I was going to take her to the specialist. The vet brought me back to the room and informed me that Pepper collapsed while they were draining and that they were breathing for her and she wasn't going to come back.

I can't explain how terrible it was to lose my best friend. I have so many great memories with Pepper, she was the greatest dog in the world. I would do anything for one more run and one more night cuddling with Pepper.

Pepper, thank you for being the best doggie. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for loving Daddy, Alex, and Me more than anything in the world. I love you more than anything in the world. I will never forget you and always miss you.

I love you little Pep.

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