A Cairn Terrier, Pepsi came to live with us 11.5 years ago at 2 years old. We had adopted Savannah, her adopted Cairn Terrier sister, in 1999, and after having Savannah for about a year, decided she needed a companion. We began looking for an adult female Cairn and saw an ad in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
We called, then we traveled. All the way the Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was an interesting experience. The folks had a big breeding outfit. I suppose you could call it a puppy mill. The owners had only had Pepsi 6 months. And they were her third owner. They had bred her once, she had one puppy and it died. I just think she was a bad breeding prospect and they wanted to get rid of her. And we were more than glad to rescue her.
I remember that day well. The owners, the hubs and I were all sitting on the porch of the house, talking about Pepsi, and then they brought her out. She immediately went over to the hubs, jumped in his lap, and that was that. The deal was sealed. We hemmed and hawed, but before we drove off, we knew we were going to adopt her. I don’t know why we just didn’t take her with us that day, but three days later, the hubs was on his way back to Chattanooga to pick her up.
Our second adopted dog, Pepsi was always like the second child. A little less attention. A little less photos. Though, in fairness, Pepsi never liked to have her photo taken. Even at the bitter end, when I was trying to take some last photos of her, she ran the opposite way when she heard the ping of the camera and saw the flash.
Pepsi was a peculiar dog in her way. She loved affection, but on her terms. She would nudge your hand, curl up next to you, let you rub her tummy for a long time, but when she was done with the love, she was done. But she was a jealous girl, as well. Whenever we were loving on or playing with Savannah, she would come nudging over, wanting love, stealing toys. While Pepsi never had Savannah’s outgoing personality, she had a reserved yet sweet disposition all her own and, I always thought, some hidden sadness behind her eyes. Perhaps tales from the two years before she came to us. Tales of lost babies and little love.
One of Pepsi’s habits throughout her life was that she desired to be sleeping/sitting UP. She always had to be UP, where she could see everything. She had "her" chair in the living room. And the settee in the bedroom. Even when we traveled, we had to configure something so she could be UP wherever we stayed. The last months of her life, Pepsi was not able to jump up because of her health issues. It made us sad because it was one of the first signs she was getting old and the end might be near.
A big thing, of course, was Pepsi’s name, which her original breeder gave her. The secret? She was Pepsi VIII which means she was one in a line of Pepsi’s. Everyone always said “Pepsi?!? Like the soft drink?!?” But we couldn’t change her name so we took to calling her “Peppy” or simply "Pep," or, in fun, “the Pepster” or “Pepisita.”
Throughout her life, Pepsi had her health woes. She had thyroid issues, allergy issues, and the past few years, heart issues. But that girl was a scrapper until the end. When we adopted Charlie, she tried to play with him a time or two, but he was just too much for Pepsi. Though I hate to admit it, she fought with Roxie twice but, I am glad to say, held her own. When we took her for her annual checkup last year, the vet said she could live well into her teens. We thought for sure she would live longer than Savannah. But she did not. Perhaps Jesus needed her in Heaven to help control her sister.
In early December, one Monday morning, Pepsi didn’t want to eat. Which was very unusual. That girl looked forward to her meals. So I took her to the vet. Over the next two days, they cleaned her teeth, found a UTI, did an ultrasound, and did extensive blood work. Long story short, they determined she had an issue with her spleen, probably cancer. But short of a biopsy (which might kill her) or surgery (which probably would kill her) there was no way to tell. We opted that we would keep her comfortable as long as we could.
The end came this weekend. We had seen a decline in her over the past week, but Sunday morning she didn’t want to eat. She stayed on her bed all day, and her breathing became increasingly labored. We knew the end was near. We spent time with her. We said our goodbyes.
We thought our scrappy girl might make it through the night and we made plans to take her this morning to our vet’s office for a peaceful end to her life; however, Pepsi, who always hated going to the vet, had other plans. Shortly before midnight, she became very stressed, and we decided to call our vet and take her on in (our vet takes their own emergency call). As we bundled her up and were about to walk out the door, she looked up at me, took a last breath, and died in my arms.
Today, our hearts are heavy with sadness. The hubs and I took the day off to mourn our loss and celebrate her life. I remember from Savannah’s death that these first days are the hardest. That time will heal the wound. But, for now, we honor her memory with our tears and our quiet reflections of our Peppy girl.
July 31, 1998-January 16, 2012