Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pepper - a bright new star in tonight's skies

With Pepper on her last walk today
Jenny and I arrive at the Animal Humane Society (AHS) a little before noon today. We asked for Lynn the vet tech supervisor who was expecting us. When she came to greet us at the intake area I asked her, “Can we take Pepper for a walk outside?” “Of course” she replied. She took us to the back. As we are walking back there she tells us that several of the staff have fallen in love with Pepper. Pepper isn’t in her kennel. Lynn suspects one of the staff has taken her for a walk or is giving her another bath. We find Pepper in the ‘tub room’ with one of the AHS staff. Her eyes are watery. She hands us a pink collar and tell us that she has made Pepper a name tag. She goes back to Pepper’s kennel to get the tag … on the front it reads ‘Pepper’ and on the back it reads ‘I am loved’. As we get ready to go outside to take Pepper for her last walk the woman breaks down and cries. Lynn, the vet tech supervisor gives her a hug. Tears are streaming down both Jenny’s cheeks and mine. Lynn turns around and there are tears in her eyes too. It’s amazing, yet not surprising to me … how a living being like Pepper can touch the hearts and souls of so many and bring us to together.

Jenny and I go outside with Pepper for her last walk. More tears fall as we take turns getting down to Pepper’s level, hugging her, kissing her, and telling her how much we love her. We spend about 10 minutes outside as Pepper enjoys the sunshine and sniffing all the bushes.

The moment Pepper crosses over rainbow bridge she is surrounded by loving hands and hearts.  There isn’t a dry eye in the room. The kindness and compassion shown by the staff at AHS was simply amazing … multiple times we heard ‘I am so sorry for your loss.” I think in my heart Pepper’s passing symbolizes something much greater than any individual loss. She represents to me the importance of the work we collectively are doing in animal rescue. Pepper will continue to live on in my heart, in Jenny’s heart and in the hearts of so many others.

AHS is graciously doing a private cremation for Pepper and will call me when I can pick up her ashes. I have her pink collar and her brass name tag that reads ‘Pepper’ on the front …. ‘I am loved’ on the back. Yes, Pepper … you are loved; you are cherished; you will forever be remembered. I will be creating a memorial garden in my backyard … the ashes of Pepper and Cass will be sprinkled there along with the ashes of my beloved pets who have crossed over rainbow bridge … Splat, Shen and Shadow.

A friend and mentor and someone who taught me so much about animal rescue when I first got involved 5 years ago, sent me an email this morning that touched me … thank you Mary Ann for your compassion and wisdom over the years:

It is hard to see those animals who have had such a tough life go but I believe that is why they come to us.  Their memories are of the kindness and love of the moment, not of what they have not had.  Most carry no grudges and we give them a gift that relieves all pain and suffering and sadness for them.

No fun - but a part of rescue that should be recognized as one of the most important things we do.

Most folks have no idea what rescue entails - not even the people in it.  “

Jenny and I left AHS --- our hearts hurting and carrying Pepper's spirit with us. Together we realize the importance of continuing to work to save the dogs of Leech Lake reservation. We also left AHS today with Cass.  The kennel was too small for him so he got to ride on top of Ahnung’s blanket and as a ‘free’ dog in the back of my Honda Element which he thoroughly enjoyed. He was a perfect boy. We stopped at Bubbly Paws, then hung outside Panera Bread in St. Louis Park for a little while …. We are now at home and he and Ahnung and sleeping soundly in my writing studio. He follows me around everywhere and he has wiggled his way deep into my heart. I know my heart will once again be ripped into a million pieces when I will have to hold this sweet boy in my arms tomorrow as he goes on to heaven. I know I will always have a piece of Cass in my heart. Maybe Cass will take a piece of me and my heart when he moves on tomorrow. For now, I cherish every moment I have with him.

Cass - hanging out in
St. Louis Park after a bath
at Bubbly Paws

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