Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Remembering Pepper

Thinking about my client's dalmatian made me remember one of my all-time favorite movies 101 Dalmatians and how this breed seems to be one of the most misunderstood dogs. I think people get their first impression of the dalmatian from that movie and when the real dogs don't measure up, (what dog could measure up to a cartoon character?) they get a bad reputation.

Their roots trace back to a region of Croatia called Dalmatia. This breed is said to have been used to guard the boarders of its ancient owners. Today, they are used as bird and rodent dogs, shepherds, trail hounds, retrievers, hunting dogs and of course, the family pet. They've even been used as circus dogs throughout history, amazing crowds with stunts and tricks. Dalmations are best known for their role as firehouse mascots.

What people don't realize when they see that adorable black or brown spotted puppy face is that dalmatians are a very active breed that requires training and maintenance. They are highly intelligent and easily trained, but, as with any smart dog, they need a job. They's why so many of them end up in the city pound.

As a child, we had a dalmatian named Pepper (original name, right?). This was before my favorite childhood pet Siesta entered my life. In a word, Pepper was simply wild. My mom had a ceramic head of Julius Cesar in the living room (trying to act and look cultured, I guess) until Pepper ran into it. He chewed through the furniture, ate the carpet and finally almost killed me!

It happened one afternoon when I was playing by myself in the backyard, a bandanna tied around my neck. Pepper saw it, grabbed it from behind and started pulling me around, tugging the bandanna like it was a dog toy.  I couldn't get a scream out because the bandanna was hitting my wind pipe. Pepper was playing. I was suffocating. My mom finally saw us and chased him until he let go.

I knew Pepper didn't mean to hurt me. My parents didn't train him so he had no idea of right from wrong. Still, that incident made me feel scared of Pepper but the fear I felt didn't compare to the terrible sense of loss I experienced when he suddenly disappeared. My parents told us that they took him to a farm where he could run around all day with other animals. I bought the story back then. Today I know better.

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