By Steve White
contributing writer 

More tales with my pal

Life with Pepe


February 27, 2021

Jack Sann

Steve White and Pepe.

Another month has passed. Now well into the second month of the second year of life during this pandemic. Combined with a lung surgery a year ago, there have been many anxious moments for me. My hearing assistant and constant companion, Pepe, has been a blessing for me with his always being around. Our daily lives, even with the first step of the vaccination scheduled for this week, has mostly been staying inside. The cold and wet weather has drastically limited our ability to get out for long walks or a hike to town.

Earlier this month I left my car in town for a major repair. How to get home and back to the auto shop while maintaining personal separation from others was a concern as I did not want to ride with someone as a passenger in their car. Kern County Dial-A-Ride to the rescue. For a buck each I was picked up both ways. What a great service! I was comfortable riding in the public bus as I was the only passenger. The bus is large enough that personal separation from the driver was not a problem.

Pepe and I have established some routines in our everyday, SIP, isolation days. Of course we take care of each other with loving kindness and my preparing meals that will not be boring. His daily kibble diet has been reduced, supplemented with vegetables, in an attempt to keep him from gaining weight during our winter of inactivity.

Pepe is like most dogs - when not doing anything they just lie down, sometimes sleeping, and wait for the next command. I have only to change out of my sweats or put on my shoes to alert Pepe that our day will soon change. Picking up the car keys makes a sound that only Pepe can hear. He's immediately at my side to remind me that he's ready to accompany me. Of course, picking up his leash is another alert for a change in our routine.

Pepe "goes out" every night about 7 p.m. With few exceptions he sleeps through the night. An occasional raccoon on one of the porches means he must wake me to be certain that I'm aware of the danger. He won't let me go back to sleep until he's cleared the area and left his mark to warn the intruder that this is his territory.

Most nights he stays asleep until well past daylight. After that first morning brief outing he wants out every couple of hours. If I'm reading, on the internet, or watching a movie he will get my attention and then give me one short loud bark. I'll say "do you want to go out?" and he immediately starts running around the room in circles. Pepe is treat motivated: he gets a treat for going out; another when he returns to come inside. These treats are kibble, stolen from his daily meal. Its interesting to me that he can "hold it" for hours when we travel. A flight to Hawaii is six hours one way. After we arrive at our destination he knows there will soon be a "Pet Area" for him to relieve himself. In all our travels he has never had an "accident" on public transportation. On a cruise ship he hates the potty box provided by the cruise line, however, he has learned there is no alternative.

Another blessing for me is that there is a hummingbird that attends to one of my window feeders throughout the day. Hummingbirds usually fly south when the winter weather sets in. This one, a male, decided to stick around. Male hummers often have multiple nests. He will have a head start on the competition and be ready when the ladies return this spring. But for now, I've an obligation to ensure that he has a warm food supply every morning. Hummingbirds hibernate at night and this hummer must hibernate through the cold spells. He is up and about after each cold spell often while the temperature is still well below freezing. . . adding much to my joy during this period of isolation.

Having been home so seldom in previous years, I haven't put out a hummingbird feeder. Nor have I seen a hummingbird in my neighborhood. Once you start feeding a hummingbird, the feeding is ongoing. Since I'm certain to be mostly home for several more months I will put out several feeders this spring. There were at least three male hummingbirds at my home this past summer. I'm sure their broods will return. I'm looking forward to buying sugar in large bags and keeping their feeders full. Just a little something more to look forward to during the coming year of SIP.


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