Pepper and A Little Girl’s Broken Heart

by Sep 1, 2022Painful Experiences, Worst of Times



Like many children growing up, I had a love affair with dogs. Every week Id beg my parents to take me the Humane Society, a place where one could buy an abandoned or relinquished dog. Often the answer was “No” but on the occasional “Yes”, off we’d go to spend as much time as I could squeeze out of them to find my new best friend. Sadly, though, even on the rare occasions that I was able to bring home a dog, it often didnt end well.

My first dog was Caesar, a little dachshund.  I was young so I dont remember much, but the one memory I readily recall was sad enough to break my tender child-heart. 

Without a care, Caesar and I ambled down the country road to visit a friend who lived a short distance away.  My friend and her family of five lived in the basement of a house. Well, it was a basement, but it had no house over it. Just a basement with a flat roof. They lived like that for years. I have no idea why, nor what the story was behind it, but at that age I didnt really feel any need to know.

We strolled leisurely along to my friend’shouse. Caesar wasnt on a leash; he didnt need one, usually. Normally, this was a very quiet road, but not this time. Neither of us noticed the car come speeding up behind us. At just the wrong time, Caesar veered right into the path of the car and was hit… hard. I’m sure he died instantly.

My dad heard my screams and quickly came running out to the road. He and the driver exchanged a few loud and angry words, and thats where that memory ends.

Ginger was the ugliest but sweetest dog ever, part German shepherd and part dachshund. I could never understand why grown-ups made such funny faces or burst out laughing when they heard what breed she was. Ugly or not, she was the perfect companion for a young girl, who loved her completely and treasured her friendship. But we didnt have her long.  She got very sick. The diagnosis, distemper. There was nothing the vet could do, and she died. 

Once, I picked out a chihuahua at the Humane Society.  My parents were pushing for a small dog and 4 lbs was about as small a dog as you could find and still call it a dog. Their policy dictated that before we could take her home, she had to be spayed. It turned out she was too old (and probably too small) for that type of a procedure, and she died on the operating table. I had no chance to bond with her—I hadn’t even named her yet. Nevertheless, I cried.

Then, there was Pepper, the saddest of all my dog stories.  Pepper was a little terrier, feisty as could be. We hit it off immediately. Every night he would jump up on my bed, and post guard, daring anyone to come near me on his watch. 

My parents, not being very fond of dogs, did not approve of a dog sleeping in any bed, and they made no exception for mine.  For some reason, though, Pepper could stay there until they went to bed, but then it was off to the basement. Night after night they battled that plucky terrier, attempting to capture him and remove him from my room. It was a fracas they quickly tired of, and unbeknownst to me, decided to bring to a determined end.

I came home from school one day calling out for Pepper. No sign of him. It was unusual for Pepper not to be waiting eagerly to greet me. I ran up the stairs, thinking he must have fallen asleep on my bed without anyone knowing. The bed was empty.

I rushed back down the stairs, yelling at my mom, “Where’s Pepper?” Just as I hit the landing and turned the corner to fly down the rest of the stairs, she replied, “We sold him.”

My legs gave out from underneath me. I fell to the floor, the life sucked out of my lungs.


Surely, she was playing with me.

Sometimes my dad played rather cruel jokes like that but never my mom. This was beginning to feel too real. But I held out hope that she would bring him out from hiding once she saw my tears. Surely, she would finally see this little joke had gone too far. Instead, she calmly informed me that they had sold him for $2 and I could have the money. 

She might as well have said, “Actually, we betrayed you. We sold the little dog you loved because we got tired of the hassle of trying to get him off your bed at night. But, to ease our guilt, and hopefully make you feel a little better, here’s 2 bucks, kid. Oh, and, we’re sorry.”

The heartaches of life are hard enough for a little girl without this kind of pain inflicted by those who are supposed to know better, but dont.