So, here I am, finally writing about our beloved doggie, Pepper. It's only been a month since she has been gone, but it feels like we said goodbye just yesterday. We miss her terribly. Boston keeps asking if he can go to heaven to visit her. He believes that Thor is taking care of her in heaven until we get old enough to go and visit her. Cue the tears! Kids are so tender and creative.
I believe she has chosen to come back as a dragon fly! I keep seeing one everywhere we go and Kris has started to see them too - at the park, the school, the doctor's office, the store, and while we are driving in the car, a dragonfly will randomly appear. I never used to see them that often, but now I see them almost every day. If anything, the thought of her as a dragonfly, free and flying, makes me happy.
While we were in the middle of our move, Pepper started to decline in health. She was struggling with confusion - not knowing where she was or where to go to the bathroom. She started having lots of accidents, which was frustrating because at the time, we were staying with my parents while our new house (new to us) was being remodeled. I feel terrible about how frustrated I was with her, and that guilt is still beating me up! I was so stressed with the move, being out of a house, and having our donor siblings in town and entertaining them, that I was so insensitive to what she must have been going through. She was in a home she didn't recognize, alone most of the time since we were on the go, and when we were around at the house, we were so busy we didn't pay much attention to her. I wish I could say that her last few weeks were a lot better than that, and if I could go back in time and change that, I would.
On the night before our donor family was leaving town, Pepper woke up in the middle of the night yelping like she was in a lot of pain. We had never heard her make a noise like that in all of her 15 years. It terrified us. Kris ran her outside to let her go to the bathroom, but she ended up peeing all over Kris before he could get her outside. She struggled to walk around the grass and wasn't herself. We ended up taking her back to bed after a while to see if she would lay down and go back to sleep. Eventually she did, but it took her almost half an hour to calm down. Then, it happened again! This time it woke up Brooklyn (we were all in the same room), so Kris took Pepper outside while I tried to get Brooklyn back to sleep. After Brooklyn went back down, I headed outside to check on Kris and Pepper - that's when I lost it. The tears flooded my eyes. Pepper was laying on the grass in a weird broken position, and looked dead (sorry for being so harsh). It was a horrible sight. I asked Kris if she was still with us. She was, but just barely. She was breathing really shallowly and didn't want to move. It broke my heart seeing her like that; I wanted to take all of her pain away. I started to blame myself for being so hard on her the last couple of weeks. I had lost my patience several times with her because of the accidents and wasn't very loving toward her. I felt like a monster.
Because all of the commotion was so loud that night, we woke up my mom, Janette. She came outside to see if we were all okay. She was so sweet to care and be there for us. She told us about an emergency animal hospital down the road, and we ended up taking Pepper there. This ended up being a terrible mistake, since as soon as we walked in, all they wanted was $$$. They didn't even care about our Pepper and the doctor was super weird - I didn't get any good vibes from her. In fact, she gave me the heebie-jeebies! She started telling us how they needed to do x-rays and blood work to try and figure out what was going on. With no guarantee of knowing what was wrong after all of the testing (all that poking and prodding and over $500 later), we didn't feel good about letting her work on Pepper. We decided that the next morning we would take her to our normal vet in Draper that has known her for 15 years. (We were staying in Orem which is about 20 minutes away from where we live.)
We got her home and she started to act normal(-ish). She still wasn't walking normally, but she would eat and drink. At some point we decided that we would see how things were going tomorrow before we took her to the vet and we all went back to sleep. In the morning, Kris took Pepper with him to our new house so he could keep an eye on her while working on house projects. I was going to be out with the donor family on their last day here in Utah. We had made plans to go to Tibblefork Reservoir, but I told Kris that if Pepper started to act weird again, or if something changed, to call and we would come straight there.
We didn't make it to the Reservoir. Kris called and said Pepper was struggling a lot and could barely walk; he thought it would be a good idea to take her into our vet to get their opinion. Our donor family was nice to let Kris and I go alone with Pepper, and they stayed with the kids and kept them entertained. When we arrived at Lone Peak Vet, they had a room ready for us. The doctor knew Pepper really well, as did everyone who worked there (she was a well-liked doggie). She was known for looking like a little puppy, even though she was 15 years old - that's 105 in dog years! Everybody loves a puppy!
After the vet did a check-up on Pepper, they came to the conclusion that she had most likely had a stroke - that is why she couldn't walk normally. Then we discussed the quality of life. That was the hardest part. After talking things out for well over an hour, we realized that her quality of life wasn't ever going to be the same, and this would be her new "norm". It broke our hearts, but we came to the conclusion that it was time to say our last goodbye! It's never easy to make that decision; in fact, I would say it was close to torture.
Everyone from the vet came in and said their final goodbyes and loved on Pepper, most of them with tears in their eyes. They all knew her so well and loved her as much as we did. They gave her a chocolate cupcake and a Crunch bar, because why not?! She loved it! She was always our chocolate-loving dog...a girl after my own heart (we never actually let her eat chocolate, because it can be harmful, but she would find her ways of getting around that. A girl will do what she has to do for chocolate... am I right??) We said our final goodbye and cried to the point of puffy eyes and red noses. We miss her and think about her every day!