Peppie, the Canadian Bear Dog (Oct 2003 – Feb 7, 2021)

Peppie lived her early life on 40 unfenced acres in Canada, flew in helicopters, and protected Guus from bears. She started out as a farm dog and was sent to the pound for killing chickens and eating their eggs. Her name was Eggy when Guus got her from the rescue when she was 8 months old. Guus had a job for her, to be a bear dog, which is a dog that scares and diverts bears in case of a bear attack. One of her many claims to fame was saving Guus from bear encounters twice when he was out working on his property. She was the Michael Jordan of dogs, with a bounding stride of ten feet or more. When she charged at a bear, she would rise up on her back legs making herself appear even larger and taller than she was.

In 2006 she made the transition from Canada’s Slocan Valley to a residential neighborhood in Beaverton. We were concerned that she would miss her Canadian lifestyle, but she easily adapted to suburban life because she loved humans more than roaming the wilderness.

She only had two faults. The first was unwavering devotion to family and those she loved. She wanted to be with us at all costs, which resulted in problems many times, like the time she tried to jump out of a second story window when we were standing in front of the house talking with neighbors. She would escape from the yard by scaling a six-foot fence to search for us when we weren’t home. We would find her sitting on the front steps or sunbathing on the road in front of our house waiting for us. Once we found her napping in the neighbor’s car parked in their garage. She had jumped into the car through an open window and fell asleep as everyone was frantically looking for her. We had to reinforce our fence with corrugated metal, concrete pavers, and buried chicken wire. We used fishing line to figure out where she was scaling the six-foot fence. Eventually our backyard was fully fortified against her Houdini escapes.

Her other fault was that as a youngster she didn’t get along with other dogs. But over the years she became best friends with our neighbor’s Golden Retriever, Daisy, and then Moritz, another rescue dog. We loved her so much we investigated having her cloned, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do considering that she was a rescue herself. The vet asked what kind of dog it was that we wanted to have cloned, and when I said that she was a mutt they were puzzled.

She seemed to love Dad the most of all, not exactly sure why. Dad didn’t particularly love dogs. She always had a knack for winning over people who didn’t like dogs. She was a gentle giant. The kids were able to walk her, sit on her, pull on her, do whatever they wanted to do with her, she just loved it. She loved every minute of attention from the kids.

In 2016 when Guus was in Japan she came down with vestibular disease, which is an affliction of old dogs. She looked like she was having a stroke. I was able to get her non-ambulatory body in the car, grabbed Mom and Dad, and got her to the vet before 8 am opening. When we got to the vet’s office, we were all crying including the vet’s staff. They got her onto a stretcher and inside, and then the vet calmly told us she was not having a stroke and was probably not going to die. She mostly recovered from vestibular disease, but never fully regained her balance and coordination.

We used to think that she was part Newfoundland because she was extraordinarily large in stature. We got her DNA tested and it turned out she was half Golden Retriever, 3/8 German Shepherd, and 1/8 Akita. We didn’t understand where she inherited her luxurious soft black coat from, but in any case, deep down inside she was basically a black Golden Retriever.

She only barked a few times in her life. When she did bark there was clearly something wrong. Once Peppie barked a few times when a drunk driver crashed into the end of Murray Rd and tried to escape on foot. I told her to be quiet and went back to sleep. In the morning I found out what had happened.

Peppie was short for Pepper, though Guus didn’t know at the time that the word peppy meant full of happy energy, which described her personality well. We ended up giving her more names just for fun and to add gravity, spirituality, and worldliness to her title- Peppie Eleanor Tsonam Antelope Diks.

She was a poorly behaved handful of boundless energy as a youngster. She jumped on people and chased animals. I remember her chasing a farmer’s sheep into the Slocan River. Over the course of her life, she caused us lots and lots of problems, but none ever outweighed the joy that she brought us. Her love for us is what kept her going to the ripe age of nearly 17 and a half years, which is unheard of for a dog of her size. She gave it her all, and it was more than enough. Our hearts were stitched together. She was our favorite thing, and it’s only fitting to share her memorial on Valentine’s Day. She was the love of our lives.

Professional family photoshoots were taken by Carrie Fay Photography.

1 Comment

Filed under Essays

One response to “Peppie, the Canadian Bear Dog (Oct 2003 – Feb 7, 2021)

  1. So beautifully told! I pray Moki will have as amazing of a journey in your lives as Peppie did! All my love to your last journey.. and your future journey ❤️

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s