Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gone Too Soon

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The lord God made them all.

Above images from Pound Cake, (c) 2006, Chrissy Spallone

Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I loved my little miniature schnauzer, Peppy. Last May, I was right beside him when he passed away after a year-long fight with mast-cell cancer. He would have been 15 years old today, and sometimes I still can't believe he's gone. In college, and last year in graduate school, I always thought, "No matter how tough this semester is, I know I'll feel better when I go home and see my little dog again."

And he was always happy to see me, too. With the exception of our last visit, he always shook with excitement whenever I came home, whether I had been away for three months or just returned from fetching the mail. He had the best life and was the most beloved pet of any dog I've known.

The New Jersey Pine Barrens is made up of millions of acres of forest, part of which is literally in my backyard, so Peppy enjoyed regular off-leash walks through the trails to the nearby lakes. He's crossed the lake on logs, and later was trained to just walk through the water, with wild blueberries on the other side as his reward. He's come face-to-face with skunks, beavers, ducklings, and dirtbikes, barking at most of them but jumping in fright at the toads that would pop out of nowhere in early summer. There were always amusing adventures to be had in this special part of New Jersey that nobody outside of a 40-mile radius has ever heard of.

Peppy and my dad in the woods I described earlier

Indoors, I would brush Peppy's fur every day, check him for ticks (those ticks are nasty, and gave me Lyme Disease as a child), brush his teeth, and fix his dinner, which would consist of dog food mixed with chopped up broccoli or tomatoes or brussels sprouts. He was always very relaxed with me, and would rest in my lap for hours sometimes, belly up. He didn't let anyone else hold him like that until he was very old.

Excerpt from "American Idling," 2008

In addition to featuring him in my artwork, I've written songs about Peppy, and my brother Steven wrote a poem about him entitled "Oh Peppy, My Peppy," though he was actually my dog, not Steven's.

Sometimes it seemed like Peppy was my only friend. I never had to worry about him finding a girlfriend and not being able to hang out with me anymore, or saying the wrong thing around him, or embarrassing him in front of his friends, or what he thought of my physical appearance. Dogs don't judge like that, they only care whether or not someone is nice.

We'll miss you, Peppy.


  1. He was so friendly when we came over to film! I think you did a wonderful job drawing him! I never understood how much a dog can affect you until we got one 3 years I don't know what I would do if Bear wasn't around. Happy Birthday, Peppy.

  2. Do we still have a copy of that poem somewhere?
    "A schnauzer with a beard can be most pompous, disdaining those in charge of walks and sup..."

  3. I think mom printed out a copy of it and has it in one of her files, though whatever email accounts it may have been sent to have long since expired.