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  • Bryan W. Alaspa

A tribute to our dog Pippa

You will see below a number of photos of our dog Pippa. She was a Pomeranian and part of a "breeder surrender", which is a nice way of saying a puppy mill had been raided and the dogs rescued. She ended up at ADOPT here in Naperville, a no-kill shelter where my wife immediately fell in love with her the moment she walked into the shelter. We had gone to look at another dog, but the moment my wife saw her black coat, tan fur and her adorable domino mask across her eyes, there was no other dog.

Pippa had a rough life for the first 7 years of her existence. We don't know for sure, but my wife and I have been fighting against puppy mills long enough to know horrible people who breed dogs in this way and sell to greedy pet stores keep some dogs as breeders in small cages, breeding them over and over. They are not given medical care. Mistreated, abused. The worst people run puppy mills and treat these amazing animals so horribly. Pippa lost most of her teeth and had been found with fleas and ticks in her fur.

When we brought her home she was very shy. For the first, maybe, two months we thought she had been debarked until one day the UPS guy came and she started barking fiercely. She was wary of me for a while, too, probably due to males being mean to her at the puppy mill. Then, after a while, she realized I would be OK and then would regularly rub her head against me and want me to rub her chest and tummy.

Pippa could have been like every Pomeranian you had ever heard about. Mean, vicious, barking, biting. She could have been mean, but she wasn't. If she wasn't sure about you, she would just walk away. She would come to you, warm up to you, and didn't like it if you came to her too aggressively.

Melanie and I loved her. She was always calm while our girl Gracie or the new boy Hondo was running around. When she was out alone, she'd become this contained black and tan ball of lightning running all over the house. She had a constant smile and even with her mouth closed, she had a smile like a dolphin on her face.

She was tiny but fierce. When Hondo would sometimes get in her face. she was likely to growl and then do this amazing spin-kick thing to get him to back off. She was clever, too, knowing when to back off and then sneak in to get a snack or toy. She was sweet, loving, beautiful, clever and a joy to play with. She was our Minnie Pipperton. Our Pippers.

She developed heart disease. We noticed her coughing a lot a couple years ago. Her heart was very literally too big for her and it caused fluid to build up. She fought it like a champ. We got her on meds. Thanks to our vet, the meds and her tenacious attitude, we probably got a few more years out of her than we might have gotten otherwise.

Sadly, she got sick this year right before the holidays. We took her to the vet they day after Christmas and found her kidneys had failed. For dogs who are 14-years-old there's not much which can be done. Flooding her with fluid to flush out the kidneys would potentially cause her heart to fail. There's no transplant list for dogs. She passed away peacefully with both of us present on December 26, 2018.

There's a Pippa-sized hole in our lives now. Melanie and I miss her horribly. But we are also so grateful for the 7 years we had and the 7 years we did our best to give her the life she should have had for the first 7 years of her life. She gave us love and laughter and the sweetest most wonderful dog you could ever want.

If I can take this one moment to get a bit political let me use this to tell you - if you want to get a dog consider the shelters. You have probably heard "adopt don't shop", but this is very true. Pet shops who sell designer dogs get them from puppy mills. If you are obsessed with breeds, then the breeder you work with will deal directly with you, not pet stores, allow you to visit the land and location where the dogs are bred. Consider an older dog. Maybe you only get 7 years instead of the full 14, but they will be the most rewarding 7 years of your life. Filled with love, fur, laughter.

Dogs are better than us. They deserve our love. If you cannot be there with your dog when it gets sick and you have to take it to the vet, then don't get a dog. You need to be there when you get the dog and then be there to hold them when the pass on. Dogs are only in our life for a short time, but I can't help but think this is so we remember what's important in life. Loving. Food. Shelter. Warmth. Family.

We will miss Pippa forever, but I would not trade a single solitary moment of the last 7 years to miss the pain of her absence. Not a second. Pippa was the best and my life was better for her being in it.

Now, she can run without coughing. She can frolic without pain. She has all of her teeth. Maybe she's reunited with puppies she had in that horrible place and lost.

I love you Pippa. You'd love her, too. Adopt a dog. You will never regret it.

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