Yesterday was a bittersweet day. It was Pepper’s birthday. Pepper is gone now but her many stories are wonderful and worth sharing. In January 2000 I had a near fatal car accident on my way home from work. I was hit by a double tractor trailer that had lost control and jack-knifed on a hairpin turn on a mountain road. The truck was going sideways down the mountain, hit my car and tore off the windshield and roof as well as a little bit of my head. For some reason, I not only survived but thrived.
To celebrate, I decided that I needed to rescue a dog. Off I went to the San Martin Animal Shelter to find a border collie. There was Pepper. She was playing with a frisbee by herself and I decided to join her. The folks at the shelter let Pepper into the play area and she and I played for a while. We became pals instantly. She came home with me the following week and became the ranch dog for Willow Ranch.
In no time, Pepper and I became inseparable. We went everywhere together and the ranch became hers. She herded the goats, horses, chickens, ducks and even our tortoise. Pepper never succeeded in convincing the tortoise to go anywhere but it was always interesting to watch.
Everyone that met Pepper loved her and they all have their own Pepper stories. She was inspiring and showed people what it was like to experience the unconditional love of a dog. Perhaps the best stories, though, revolve around the love between Pepper and our friend Lisa. Their love for each other was boundless.
Pepper came with me to the Mono Basin and proved herself to be an unbelievable hiking dog and partner in exploration. She made the Basin her own, becoming part of the old ranches, the desert and the mountains. The Mono Basin is where she remains.
There are so many Pepper stories to tell that it would take a book. One day I’ll write it.
Happy birthday, Pepper, and thank you for letting me share life with you.