Who Saved Whom?

Published: April 16, 2011

Bonnie and Clyde were six week-old beagle puppies when we adopted them from the Westerly dog pound in 1981. Clyde died when he was ten, and Bonnie was put to sleep in January at 18 1/2 years. She was with us longer than the children had been. Her death left a black hole in our lives, made worse by my husband's refusal to consider another dog. He had taken Bonnie to the vet to be put down, and it was the most difficult thing he had ever done, for he had loved Bonnie as much as his children....

"Let's enjoy the freedom we never had", he said. "Now we can travel" (as if we did before). "The kids won't take care of another dog, I'll have to do everything". The children begged. They cried. At 15 and 12, they certainly were committed to taking care of another dog.

I surfed the internet for beagle rescue and found BREW. There were so many beautiful faces and such sad stories. I wanted to take every one of them, but Gordon was steadfast. "No." he said, "I have to get up at 4:30 in the morning anyway, I'm not getting up at four to walk a dog."

"We can work something out", we said. "The dog can stay in Roy's room until he gets up. They're very adaptable" we said. "No." he said. And so it continued.

I began to plot. I printed out pictures of the sweetest beagles . . .
Thumper, Maura, Dixie, Stan, dozens of them. I put them on the refrigerator. After a few weeks, it was covered with adorable beagle photos. Friends came to visit, asking, "what's up with this?" "It's our media campaign" we replied. Gordon shrugged and said we were wasting our time.

And then: Pepper's picture and story were posted on BREW's site. She was perfect. She was the spitting image of Bonnie. She was a hunting dog, raised in a cage for two years. Her owner finally agreed to give her up to BREW. My co-workers were accustomed to hearing me cry "Awwww" whenever I found a cute candidate, but this time, they urged "Call them", "Go see her". But I couldn't do it without Gordon's approval. I printed out the pictures and the story and took them home that night. As Gordon was relaxing, reading the paper, I slipped them onto the paper in front of him. He read it, and his shoulders sagged.

"Call" he said, and I did.

I spoke with Claudette, Pepper's foster mom, and set up an appointment to see her. The hour drive was worth it. I took my daughter Jessie, and when we saw her for the first time, we knew this was the dog for us. She was warm and soft, and after 10 months of not holding a dog, my eyes filled with tears. I'm sure Pepper wasn't too sure about going to live with an emotional wreck. She bade us farewell by peeing on the carpet. We arranged for the home inspection, filled out the application and after crossing the t's and dotting the i's, went to pick her up and bring her home. She slept on Roy's lap the entire way. I assured them that if they did not hold up their end of the canine-care contract, their lives, as they knew them, would end.

Pepper made herself at home slowly. Having lived her life in a cage meant that she was unfamiliar with such things as: doors have big rooms on the other side; stairs are tricky, especially going down; garbage trucks are very noisy; you can't eat the neighbor's cat; and mom's white oriental carpet is not a toilet. She has only barked once. Imagine racing into the kitchen after a ball and suddenly finding six nutcrackers lined up in the window for Christmas! Scary!

She is wonderful. She sits up for treats, sits down when you put on her walking harness (don't even have to ask), she sleeps with Roy until 6:45 every morning, and he takes her out without fail. She follows us everywhere (except where the white rug lives). She loves soccer games, riding in the car and socializing. She loves Gordon too.

Last night after supper, I found him in the living room holding Pepper in his arms, saying "Who's the best little doggie in the world? Pepper is!"

Our thanks go out to Laura and the BREW-Crew who know that for every beagle that needs a home, there is a family that needs a four-legged soul even more.

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