By Steve White
contributing writer 

More tales with my best friend

Life with Pepe


January 16, 2021

Jack Sann

Steve White and Pepe.

If I told you that the Coronavirus pandemic has been a blessing in my life would you believe that? Due to the pandemic Pepe and I can no longer travel ... our Mexican Riviera one-week cruise in March; a three-week Alaska small ship cruise last May; and a flight to Barcelona with a two-week European cruise last September were all canceled. The two-month Mazatlán condo for a this winter's getaway is canceled. We are now, pretty much stuck at home because of the pandemic. Where's the blessing in that?

Pepe came into my life a couple of years after my 18-year-old Dachshund, Hannah, died. I always loved Hannah, and knew she could never be replaced. And Hannah loved me. If I left Hannah at home to run an errand or go shopping she would greet me on my return as if I had been away for several days, although only an hour had passed.

That attachment was so deep that I wasn't sure I ever wanted to go through the pain of that loss again. There is an unspoken contract we have with dogs. We know that we will most likely outlive them. Dogs do not live very long. The parting is painful and the emotional suffering is constant.

Pepe came to me as a working dog, to assist me with my profound hearing loss. Pepe was chosen, by others at Dogs For Better Lives, to fit my lifestyle. He was specially trained to assist me. From the day Pepe arrived at my home with his trainers to teach us some guidelines in working together, I liked him. However a true bond was never established. After all, he was just a Working Dog and could never be a beloved pet. That is until this pandemic made me realize that we give each other so much more than just a working dog to human relationship.

Pepe accompanies me everywhere we go. Shopping, the doctor's office, even a quick trip to the Post Office for the mail, and Pepe is at my side. Pepe and I live alone, except for each other, and take the medical professionals recommendation to shelter in place very seriously, isolating ourselves with personal and social separation. This past year has meant no visits with family and friends, and holidays were spent in isolation. There are no handshakes or hugs with a friend I have not seen for awhile when we meet by chance while shopping for essential needs; there has been no physical human contact for almost a year. However, the appearance of smiling eyes behind a passerby's masked face, when someone sees Pepe brings me tremendous joy with just that little bit of people contact.

Pepe and I go for a walk almost every day. Usually those walks are a mile or two, mostly in nearby fields or perhaps a day hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. These are areas where there is little chance of an encounter with another person. Sometimes we will go on a three-mile walk to the town center and back. While walking along the roadway or a hike to town, many drivers recognize us and return my friendly wave with a smile on their face. I have Pepe to thank for that recognition. Without him at my side, I would be just another pedestrian.

At home, Pepe keeps a watchful eye on my every movement. When I'm in the kitchen, preparing a meal, he is at the kitchen entry - most likely he is there hopeful that a scrap of food will fall to the floor by accident. When I take a nap or go to bed for the night, he follows me to the bedroom and rests in a doggy bed, on the floor, at the foot of my bed. Once he's certain that I'm asleep, he moves into the living room and sleeps in a doggy bed on the couch.

If I think he's sound asleep while I'm moving around the house I only have to quietly move the lid, ever so slightly, on the cookie jar to be reminded that he is always watchful and alert to the slightest sound. When I leave the house for just a moment to harvest a garden item for a meal, or take out the trash, he is at the door waiting for me when I return.

I have grown very fond of Pepe during this pandemic as he is so much more than "just a Working Dog" in my life. Yes, I have the pandemic to thank for this remarkable change in our relationship.


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