I read this essay online. You don’t know what an essay is, because you’re a dog, also you’re dead now, but that’s not why you don’t know. You don’t know because dogs don’t really do essays. Dogs are really more about that being loved and doted on life. The lucky ones that is. Anyway, I read this essay that Cazzie David wrote about her dad Larry David, a very famous comedian where she talked about why she still lived at home at 23. You can read the whole thing here, well you can’t because you don’t know how to read, and because you’re dead now (this bears repeating, because I’m teetering on the edge of un-reality by trying to convince myself that maybe, just maybe, you’re taking a nice long nap), but anyone else reading this letter can and should, in my opinion. Because it’s heartbreaking and funny as hell and perfectly encapsulates the way us worriers fear deaths arrival. Anyway, it so reminded me of us. To quote miss David “My dad sits on the couch almost every night watching a movie from the ‘40s. I find old movies boring because of my age and advanced ADD, but I’ll gladly, for aforementioned reasons, sit next to him and watch him stare at the screen. He’ll say ‘It’s Saturday night. Why don’t you go hang out with your friends? Go do something.’ I’ll tell him I can do that whenever, but how many more times am I going to be able to sit next to my dad as he watches a movie? He’ll reply ‘What are you talking about? We do this every night.’ And I’ll think to myself ‘Yeah. Every night…until you die.’”
Do you even know how many Saturday nights I chose you instead of hanging out with my friends, miss Pep? Of course you do, you were there snuggled up to me watching the Bachelor or Felicity or Planet Earth or or or. And I’d feed you anything that wouldn’t kill you because you were such a good girl and I was such a bad girl. Oh boy. Hold on just a second here, I gotta just wipe this wet stuff from my eyes and, oh, now it’s on the keyboard, dammit you’re not supposed to get electronics wet. I know you probably don’t know that either, but it’s true, ok? I don’t know, maybe you need to know these things wherever you are. After all, who’s looking out for you now?
You had an interesting start in life and even though you were homeless for the first 6 years of it, I know you were a happy dog eating pizza scraps and other street goodies. Sorry you had to make the switch to dog food when you came home with me. I know it was confusing to be your homeless humans companion for all those years, but she found out she was very sick and made the loving choice to pass you on to Yolanda, who never intended to keep you. It was the lowest point in my life, having just gone through the most painful relationship. You were gonna be my revenge pup, ha! But you were so special Pep-a-step, I know it took awhile for me to come along. I’ll always be grateful for your grace as you got passed off from temporary home to temporary home; you settled in with me almost overnight, and this is our love story:
Pepperoni and cheese: I totally understand now why people believe in some magical place they like to call heaven. Because when we lose someone we love we have no choice but to believe they’ve gone somewhere better. It’s simply too much that you really might just be a sack of bones sitting in a beautiful mahogany box on my desk. I don’t mean to be grim, but science promises that’s what’s happening here and the only thing keeping me from going back on antidepressants is the idea that you are being stroked and belly rubbed and ogled and cooed at whilst being fed steak that happens to have never harmed any animals (that hope is for me, not you). Your arthritic hobble was v v bad in the end there and the only thought I can tolerate is that you’re prancing through a field of raw meat and snowflakes somewhere.
Paprika, can we just take a minute and reminisce about everything we experienced together and how we stretched time?
Three cross country road trips.
Click to scroll images
We hiked The Grand Canyon.
We slept together in like a million different motels.
We swam in oceans.
Click to scroll images
We swam in lakes.
We swam in pools and chilled on blow up flotation thingys. You popped one with your toenail and scared yourself silly.
We even took a shower together once because, well I don’t remember why, do you? There was a reason I’m sure of it.
We went to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree…remember that time it was so hot you couldn’t walk on the asphalt without burning your toes so Yassine had to squirt his water bottle on your feet every step you took?
We went to San Diego.
We dressed up as famous duos for Halloween, which was always a bit awkward when I had to leave you (and therefore half my costume) home.
Click to scroll images
We went to the dog park but you major hated that shit, so we always left shortly after arriving, but not before you cutely policed the other doggos.
We hiked all over LA
We eventually found our favorite hiking spot in Highland Park. Ya know! I just remembered I have pictures from that day. It was the first day I remarked at your modeling skills and what a beautiful dog you were. I had just bought my fancy Canon 6D and requested you continue to jump into the lake so I could practice taking action shots. I was fairly unsuccessful, but you certainly slept well that night.
We stayed with SO MANY FRIENDS: Hanne, Chloe, Travis, Danny, Kali, Eryn, Kate, Mom and Dad, Ari and Alex, Anthony, Devin, Audrey and the list goes on.
We snoozed in the sunlit living room of Kate and Dana’s upstate New York cabin.
We drove to Vegas together (ugh).
You came on The Vegan Road Trip with us.
We shared a popsicle (this was the moment you forgave me for going to South America without you for two months).
We slept under the stars together.
On the couch together.
In several different beds together.
You followed me all over this damn country and you were so happy to do it.
You ate at dozens of restaurants with me.
We smuggled you into grandma and grandpas apartment.
We went to Dewey beach.
We took a ferry to Fire Island.
We hung out in East Hampton.
We got to know a lot of families and for two whole years you got to come to work with me everyday.
You became an overnight sensation when @thedogist shared your pictures and your story on instagram. Over 150,000 likes and 1000+ comments praising you, and you remained humble the whole time.
We survived bed bugs together.
And having a rescue rabbit Salty Buns in our 400 sq/ft apartment (I don’t think he was your favorite, but I’ll always be grateful that you were so gracious about having him around. Thank you for not eating him).
We protected each other. (Remember when you got in front of me when that big dog started approaching on our hike and he attacked you and you had to get tubes in your belly and lots of stitches and pain meds? And then remember that other time when a dog started charging you and this time I tried to protect you and wound up breaking my thumb in the process?) I think it’s obvious we would have done anything for each other. Right after you died my beautiful and loving friends tried to console me by saying “...but you gave her such a good life…” and I’m like, I fucking know, but does she know she gave me the best life? Does she? Do you Pepanopoulos?
And now what I really can’t believe is this:
When coming home, I’m never going to hear the tap-tap-tap shuffle of your feet getting up from right in front of the door where you would sleep and wait for me. Side note: When you first came into my life I asked my neighbors at Larissa if you ever barked because I had never heard you make a peep, and I thought this was weird. They said yes, once a day, when the mailman came. I thought that was so hilariously unreasonable of you, until one day when I was home sick, sleeping in bed, and there you were sleeping peacefully under the mail chute along the door, when BOOM a bunch of mail came crashing on your sleeping head. And then I heard it. It was such a precious sound. One. Single. Determined. WOOF!
I’m never going to feel your head nudge. That infamous Pep-a-step head nudge that was so charming and demanding.
I’m never going to smell that breath again. That rotten, something-died-in-your-old-lady-mouth smell, and, as it turns out, I’m just as sad to let go of the less favorable along with the good stuff. In fact, I’d do anything to have you under foot, where you loved to be more than anywhere on the planet. I’d literally rather be in the ER because I tripped over your belly and face planted the side of a hot stove.
I’m never going to see you eat snow again. Do you know this was one of the things that brought me the most joy, was watching you c-h-e-w snow? I know how much you loved it, you little LA dog, can you imagine if you went your whole life and never met snow? I’m so glad that I could gift you such a magical thing. Thank you, Eryn, for letting us find a dog friendly cabin in Big Bear to celebrate your 30th birthday. It was Pepper’s first time in the snow. And I’ll never forget it.
I ain’t gonna feel the weight of your head in my lap, which is where you liked to rest, or your paw on my leg. You were the most awkward “sitter,” what was up with that by the way?
Death is hardest on the living, my sweet girl. You’re probably glad to hear that I know that, because all you ever wanted was for me to be happy and to feel loved. You made me so happy and you made me feel so loved. I wish I could hold you and have you forever. I wish that all dogs lived to be 200 and humans lived to be 200 plus 1 day because I’d never want you to have to be without me and I’ve done enough work on myself to tolerate 24 hours of utter loneliness. All I ever wanted was to protect you from harm and discomfort and pain and the lack of companionship. And I did. But you didn’t speak English, which was like, super frustrating sometimes. You did, however, teach me other ways to communicate and you had the most soulful eyes. I could always find the answer deep in your dirty windowed, cloudy-blue, kind rainstorm eyes. But if only you could nod or say yes, mama, I know how much I changed your life. Well, I think that would be comforting. It’s not that I think you didn’t feel my love, it’s just your absence has left me insatiable. Because I crave your presence deep within my bones and there’s no undo button, no waking up from a lonely dream. I can smell you as I type this. I can feel the fuzzy part of your upper lip just under your nose. I know, I know, it was annoying that I always wanted to rub that part of your face, but you’re such a peach for letting me do it. And your velvety soft ears, I wanted to keep them. The vet told me it would be next level creepy to keep your ears. After sobbing and turning your body over to her, I agreed. Begrudgingly.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but I want my fellow animal lovers and pet owners to know that it was easy to make the decision to let you go. Because we did that thing where we looked deeply and with great focus into each other’s eyes and you “told” me it was time. You signaled you were tired and that you needed to just rest. You thought I didn’t need you anymore because I had Jason and you loved him too, so much. So you were okay leaving me with him. I know it doesn’t matter, we all pass on, but I didn’t stop needing you and I never will. The last year I’ve leaned into your memory many times over. The ones we love never really leave, their presence in our lives simply shifts. Life, of course, is a capital A asshole from time to time, reminding me you were never mine to have. Just to love. So I had to put my big girl pants on and I had to muster the courage. I will always be grateful that I was with you. That I got to hold you and comfort you and tell you “You’re such a good girl” as you suffered through your last night. I wish we could have eaten a pint of vegan ice cream together for our last hurrah, but you weren’t up for it. Another sign. I’m sorry I got frustrated with you that night. I was just really scared, because I knew in my guts I needed to start saying my goodbyes.
I want you to know everything I do in this life moving forward will be in your honor. You taught to me to be brave, to stay close to the ones you love, to lean on the people who lift you up when you feel low. You taught me exactly how to angle your head so that you can best soak in the sun. I wonder if people are sick of hearing about our love story, but that sounds like a their problem, not an our problem, right Pep? You came around and showed me that soul mates exist. For me in the form of a soft, blue-ish, no tailed babe named Pepper. I hope you’ve been resting in peace. Maybe what I really mean is that I hope you dance the night away you luscious queen, and enjoy all the chocolate. Nothin’ can hurt you now. Thank you for your love, I will think of you everyday for the rest of my life. Your death shattered my heart in a million pieces leaving an unmistakable hole. I’ve been told over time it will heal and close up, but I believe every time our hearts break it always leaves a mark, and that’s just how the light gets in.
I love you baby girl, to the moon and back and as Dana reminded me “we will all hang out on the other side, yo.” Until then…
I love you.
I love you.
Yours (always yours),
P.S. You were loved by everyone who ever had the good luck of meeting you.