By Steve White
contributing writer 

Pepe, the celebrity

Life with Pepe


May 22, 2021

Jack Sann


Life With Pepe during this ongoing pandemic frequently brings unexpected episodes to my rather boring, self imposed, sheltering-in-place routines.

Last fall Dogs For Better Lives (DFBL) – Pepe's alma mater – encouraged me to enter Pepe's shelter rescue and his coming into my life, in the Petco Holiday Wishes Grant program. Thousands of entries are submitted each year and the chances for a winning story are slim as there are only about 50 winning submissions. The entry could not be more than 500 words – a major challenge for me as I have a tendency to be a bit wordy when writing. Pepe's story was a winner! 

DFBL received $5,000 dollars, I got a pair of Sketchers shoes and a long sleeve t-shirt with Petco's Holiday Wishes logo: "Pets Change Our Lives - Let's Save Theirs." Since I live alone, except for Pepe, I have very little physical contact with other persons due to the pandemic. Having submitted a winning entry was a huge encouragement for me.

Last week  Pepe and I made our monthly essential big box needs shopping adventure to Bakersfield, with a plan to stop at one of the Petco stores. I have recently changed my telephone number which made Pepe's "I'm a lost dog" tag worthless. Of course, the Kern County animal shelter contact information is on a tag; but having a local contact number is crucial for simplicity in finding a lost dog's home. The local pet supply has a machine for imprinting tags; but their available tags are not to my liking. On our trip to Bakersfield, I wore the Petco Foundation long sleeve t-shirt that I had been given at the grant award.

Entering the store raised some eyebrows with the employees as the Petco Foundation "Pets Change Our Lives" logo is emblazoned in huge letters across the chest.

When the staff at Petco realized I was deaf, one of the girls offered to assist me and asked about the shirt. I asked her if she had read the "blue book" of stories and pictures about grant winners. This book is distributed to the Grant Recipients and is placed at each store.

She was familiar with the book and fetched a copy from their employee break room when I told her that Pepe was a winner.  When she brought the book out there was a sticky note attached to the cover. Someone had written: "Warning - if you read this book you will cry." There are many heartwarming stories and pictures about how pets have come from being a rescue to having a forever home. Of course, human lives are also changed with every pet placement.

Well, a "local" winner in the huge population of Petco stores – there are at least 1,500 locations in the U.S. – makes for a very exciting time for the store employees. Suddenly Pepe became a store celebrity with many of the employees rushing to meet him. Having his picture on the inside first page meant that many had seen his picture, even if they had not read Pepe's rescue account.

Once again Pepe has brought a "people contact during the pandemic" to my life. There were many pictures taken; some with a crowd of very attractive young ladies at our side! If you have not seen the book of pictures and stories ask to see it the next time you are at a Petco store.


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