Rules of Life According to the Poodle

My name is Pepper.  I was born on June 21, 2002.  Diana brought me to my new home when I was 6 weeks old.  I used to fit in Diana's open hand; I was a palm puppy.  But now I'm huge, 14 years old and very much, the alpha female in my house.  Sage is not the boss of me.  Even Mike and Diana, not so much.  I have rules and I think it will be helpful if everyone knows them.  So please pay attention to my Poodle Rules so that we all can have a good life together. 

After my rules, I will show you me over the years with cutesy captions too. You can click on any of my pictures for a bigger me.  My humans may have a few words at the end but rules are rules.


Pepper List of Poodle Rules

  1. Poodles have Rules!
  2. Poodles should NEVER be left alone
  3. You are not the boss of me
  4. Babies make me cry
  5. My babies come out at night
  6. Poodle feet should never get wet (can't go out when it has rained or the ground is wet)
  7. Do not touch the Poodle paws!
  8. I am a Pepper Shaker
  9. I sit in the front seat of the car when in E-Town (otherwise, back seat)
  10. My pack must stay together
  • I do like my beddies
  • I like my sweaters (when I'm cold)
  • I do like my blankies too
  • Poodle Belly (I'll flip over for a belly rub)
  • I will dance/rock  (my way to get a human's attention)
  • I have claws and I know how to use them (to get your attention; leg, door, boxes, cameras)
  • There are rules about poodle paws ( see rule 6 and 7)
  • Car rides are a love/hate relationship
  • No other animals may sniff my butt
  • Treat Treat after every Pee Pee
  • Mike cannot pay any attention to Sage
  • I must lick all plates clean
  • I can clang a (metal) bowl to get your attention
  • I hate going to the groomer/vet and I can violently shake (see rule 8)
  • When I scratch, you must respond
  • I sleep on or in the bed of my choice
  • If I scratch the covers, you lift them for me to go under
  • No closed doors in the house
  • I can be be a devil dog!
  • Some of the best things I eat are "Bed-Worthy"!
  • Boney bone!
  • Don't make me cling my water bowl.
  • My humans call me Puppy Trash, Poodle Trash, Pound Puppy Mill Trash and such but I know they don't mean it
  • Ask my humans about my toasty walk

Every snack you make, every meal you bake, every bite you take, I'll be watching you...


My baby Ducky and me.  They call it a duck but it is really a quail.  -  Nov '07

Me with a few long gone babies a long time ago.  There were three squirrels at one time.  -  Nov 2007

The four of us from our Christmas 2012 picture.  -  Nov 2012 (posted 11-28-19)

The Poodle loved Haagen-Dazs and to chew up the container as well.  -  Nov 2008 (posted 12-4-19)

More pictures to follow in time...

This page was published to the web on Pepper's 14th birthday, June 21, 2016.  She was about 6 weeks old when she came home to Diana, Dave and Becca to live with them in Newport Beach California in the summer of 2002.  She moved to Costa Mesa in 2005 and then to Winthrop Washington in 2009 to live with Diana and Mike.  She is an amazing dog who we fondly called puppy trash, mill puppy and poodle trash.


Happy 14th birthday Poodle!  In those early days, I did not like ankle biters, still don't...mostly.  I grew up with real outdoor dogs, never had a indoor lap dog.  When walking to Starbucks, I'd tell Diana to stay 15 feet behind me so people wouldn't think I was with you.  But over time, you actively worked on me, wore me down and ultimately won me over and you became my dog as Diana still reminds me from time to time as well as people too.  You are not universally mine but primarily as you press your independence.  You have your pack; Diana, Sage and I.  You really do want us all to be together all the time and are visibly bothered when there are separations.

Well Poodle, you made it to 16.  It's now about a month after that birfday and you are doing amazingly well, though lots of meds and now some hemp (CBD) to help you along.  Still a sharp knife though your physical side is slowing you down.  You don't go on walk walks anymore and I stay home with you so Diana and Sage now walk alone.  You have done well to learn my silly sign language hand signals.  I regret not having taught you sooner though your whiffer and eyes have have been a great help too!  You now have steps to the beds and the couch.  You still bring us much joy while Sage seems to enjoy being more and more close to that coveted alpha dog status that you proudly wielded when Sage joined us all in 2009.  I don't think he will completely get there until you blast off, though he surely could.  You two are still a complementary pair.  More to follow in time...

It's now sadly, past time..

Pepper was euthanized on Thursday November 29, 2018 about 10:30am while sedated for dentistry and an abscess on her muzzle (cancer - less than two weeks to live at most).  The Party Poodle lived for 16 years, 5 months and 8 days.  She will be missed beyond any words that I can put down now, if ever.  It's been 5 days now and I am not able to do more.  But I will in time...

December 20, 2018 - My first update to these pages since we let Pepper go.  I have collected all her photos and those of her and Sage or others but I haven't tried to pick out any to share yet, really have not looked at them yet.  We have gotten many comments and letters though and we appreciate everyone sharing with us.  A few of you have Emailed Pepper but I didn't feel I should share.  But Coventry's Email to the Poodle today is one that should be shared, we enjoyed it and I think it is somewhat a bridge for Diana and I as well.

February 8, 2019 - Still can't get this done.  We see you every day; greetings in the morning, good night at the end and random events during the day.  We missed only 1 day, that for Sage's test drive motel overnighter trip to Wenatchee in prep for a 10 day family road trip. 

You were my excuse not to travel, so we are gearing up for a quick trip to Boston soon and a road trip (with Sage) to St Paul.  All family stuff without the Poodle.  I don't really want to leave.

We have not moved past the grief nor find these pages more than little comfort.  I know in time that those two will intersect, then reverse.  I'm not sure I want that either...

March 2, 2019 - It's 3 months and 2 days later.  No effort to pick through the Poodle's pictures to put up here, haven't taken her stuff to storage, her beddie and blankie are still in the bedroom.

But we did take our first trip, darn Poodle made me do it!  We went to Martha's Vineyard a week ago to visit with my daughter and her spouse and my first grandson.  My son and his spouse also flew into Boston and we all drove down together to the island.  Wonderful time there with family, but the travel sucks.  I used Pepper to shield me from that travel.  Not so much now.  So next up is a road trip to St. Paul.  Sage is traveling with us.  He should be a fine roadie and he deserves it for putting up with that alpha crap that Pepper dished out for all of his 10 years in the Poodle kingdom.

May 1 2019 - It's been 5 months and 2 days.  Her bulbs that we planted in December have come up and we have had 3 flowers bloom in the past few weeks.  Diana got some summer flowers and we swapped out her original winter bunch last week.  I haven't started on Pepper's marker yet, beyond the planning, hopefully real soon now.

Yesterday we went and looked at poodle puppies at a local breeder's home in Twisp.  4 3-month old red standards were there as well as the Mom and Dad and a sister from a previous litter.  We spent an hour with breeder in the yard with the entire crew.  There are 2 females there, both who were very interactive and I took a liking to.  But didn't have a spark or something was missing...likely Pepper I suppose.  We should move forward with this chance though.  The breeder is new and marvelous and I fear she will soon burn out as she spends a tremendous amount of time with her clan.  Maybe, but as of today, no move has been made though I think these pups are special and nearby and it is a wonderful nexus to what we already have here in the valley.

2323 hours:  Late update.  Tomorrow we go to Leah's to bring Nancy (soon to be Rosemary) home.  More on that soon, why now especially...

May 29 2019 - It's been 6 months now since we lost Pepper.  Really hasn't changed how we feel when we think of her.  I have gotten some cedar planks, cut them and ready to assemble for her marker.  Sage is slowing down but doing OK on meds that should give him another pretty good year.  Rose is a major diversion and huge puppy effort, almost 4 months old and with us now a month and her first grooming on Saturday.  It's not all about the Poodle, certainly not the Poodle but the right dog at the right time we think with Sage winding down and a major hole for Rosemary to work with some magic known as time.  Not Thyme, not yet anyway.

June 9 2019 - I finished Pepper's grave marker today (see bottom of page).  Sadly it took me several months longer than it should have taken.  It looks good I think and really is rather perfect.

July 29 2019 - It has been 8 months now and still not a day goes by without greeting Pepper in the morning, at bed time or coffee on the deck overlooking the Poodle, usually 2 of those 3. That Rose surely is a diversion, wonderful as she is, I feel sad that sometimes I forget about Pepper.  Sage is doing OK but he is showing signs too.  We put him on CBD's, as we did the Poodle and with great improvement, just like the Poodle.  Someday surely, there will be a cross-over point.  I can't even come to think about any of that either.

November 14, 2019 - I didn't really intend to come here today, more stumbled upon it.  We are well aware she is just a few weeks away from a year.  It is sad and I do wish to put up a few pics to time with her one year in death.  I needed to make that commitment today, so I will now.  We do miss her, though that Rose is a dominant force too.  Just like the Poodle she has a way to deal with her humans.  At times, she reminds us of the same traits we saw and experienced with that Pesky Poodle. 

And sadly, Sage is showing more signs of his medical issues.  I had a small excavator come in for his spot near Pepper a month ago.

November 29, 2019 - It has been a year now.  So sad and not ready to say much on this day.  We miss her greatly and it is no easier now than the day we buried Pepper in our yard just below the house.  Rosemary is a diversion and deserves a place in our hearts.  But she is not a replacement.  I added one pic today, our 2012 Christmas picture.  It appeared randomly a few days ago on Google, a random appearance.  Miss you Poodle..

December 4, 2019 - My first effort to pull up some Poodle memories by posting a picture that was representative of her personality. This was from our time in the condo.  Pepper was 6 year old at that time.


I know that as time goes by I will forget details about Pepper’s last days so I want to write them down, even though it is still fresh and painful.

She had a good week the week before she died. She was stiff and sore but happy. Mike usually got up with her before I woke up. As she walked by my room she always looked in and if I put my hand down she trotted in for a quick pet. She always bounced in, no matter how stiff she was.

Mike was having difficulty getting her to eat in the mornings. She needed food to take her pain pills but she wouldn’t even be tempted by peanut butter, pork or chicken. She would eat as the day progressed.

She still watched us carefully. She kept careful track of both of us, but always, especially, Mike. She would get frantic if she lost track of him. He had to be careful to always make eye contact with her before he left a room so she knew where he was. She would then sit and wait for him.

I believe the last time Pepper ate was Monday night. I believe the only time she ate more than a bite or two that day was in the evening. Of course this was very concerning in a dog whose life purpose had been to convince her humans to feed her more.

Tuesday she did not eat at all. She drank lots of water and did not seem uncomfortable. She enjoyed going outside and she peed and pooped. I told Mike I thought she was starting the process of dying.

Unfortunately we had to force her meds down her throat. She would not eat anything and she had to have her pain meds to keep her comfortable and to keep her from becoming anxious. She hated that. She fought and threatened to bite. It was awful.

Tuesday morning when we forced her pills I saw blood on Mike’s hand. I thought she bit him but then we saw a puffy oozing sore on her left muzzle. I was actually a bit relieved. She had an abscessed tooth. That explained everything and it could be fixed. It felt like a reprieve.

We took her to the vet that afternoon. We gave her tranquilizers for the trip. I drove and Mike held her. She was calm. Dr. Mike agreed it was an abscess. He gave her an antibiotic shot and we scheduled her to have the tooth removed the next morning.

We hoped she would eat that evening after the shot but she would not. She drank lots and lots of water but she would not drink broth. She was “looped” and quiet the rest of the day from the tranquilizers, given on an empty stomach. She still enjoyed going outside.

Thursday morning we gave her pain pills and tranquilizers. We’d cleared that with the vet. I drove and Mike held her. She was calm. We chatted at the vet’s office. Pepper actually got away from Mike at one point and trotted down the hallway. He had to go get her.

We understood there was risk in putting a 16-year-old frail dog under general anesthesia but Pepper’s main problem was arthritis. Her heart and organs seemed to be strong. We weren’t overly concerned about the anesthesia killing her.

We discussed when to come pick her up. Mike and I wanted to know whether to go home and come back or stay in town and run errands. Dr. Mike said she wouldn’t be ready to go home until around 2 so we said we would shop for groceries and then go home and wait for them to call us.

Dr. Mike said she was the first patient so she would not go into a crate. He would take her right back and put her under.

We said good-bye to her casually, fully expecting to be back to pick her up that afternoon. We thought she would have a rough day and night and then she would be better and start eating again. We knew she didn’t have much time left but we saw this as a fairly minor road bump.

We went next door and started shopping. We were in the produce aisle. I had just put cilantro in my cart and was heading for the onions. I looked up and saw Dr. Mike. My heart sank. He came up to me and gently said it was cancer, not an abscess. Mike was at the cold cuts cooler with his back to us. I went and got him.

Dr. Mike said Pepper was still under and fine. The “abscess” was a nasty cancer. He had started to remove it but it was too entrenched. She would need radiation and/or chemo and even then would likely not have more than a couple weeks. I was shaking my head but Mike was stunned and couldn’t take it in. Once he realized what Dr. Mike was saying there was no question. We told him to let her go.

Mike remembers him asking us if we wanted to see her one last time. I don’t remember that. We did not.

There was a store employee nearby. I told her we had to put our dog down and we just wanted to go home. She gave me a hug and said she’d put our few little things back but we did it before we left.

We went home, shocked and crying. After a while I called and asked if we could come and pick her up. They said yes and we drove back to town.

Cassandra said Dr. Mike was wrapping her up. She asked if we wanted a box and I said yes. It took a while but she went back and then came out with a taped up shipping box with “perishable” on it. This upset Mike very much. Dr. Mike did not come out. I’ll note he was quite sick with a cold.

We brought a bed and blankie for her. I held the box on the bed on the drive home. When we got home Mike cut up the box. She was in a black trash bag. There was liquid in the bag so he did not open it. I did not want to see her. I wanted to remember her as she was when we dropped her off.

We debated over what toy (Baby) to send with her. Mike wanted to keep the babies that meant the most to her: Tiger Baby, Moosie and Baby Einstein. I chose a little blue squeaky dog that she played with and enjoyed but did not have that strong emotional attachment to.

Mike dug a grave for her while I was back east. We knew she would not likely survive the winter and he wanted to do it before the ground froze. He went down and got the grave ready for her.

We wrapped her in a blankie I knit and laid her in her pink beddie. Mike put her in her grave. We put her blue squeaky toy on top. We buried her.

Mike was appalled by that cardboard box. It was the focus of his intense, immediate grief. I kept telling him that was not Pepper.

Mike took great comfort in her grave. It was hard for me. She was outside, in the cold, alone. I couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about her out there. Now I had to tell myself that’s not her, that’s not Pepper. I was so glad we had her here, that she had not been shipped off in that horrible box. But the reality of it hit me and it was overwhelming.

The following days have been very hard. We agreed it was the best possible death for her. She essentially died in her sleep. We were spared having to make the awful decision to put her down. We said good-bye to her not knowing we were saying good-bye forever. She was drugged and calm, not upset or anxious.

What has been so painful is her absence. She was acutely aware of us and we were acutely aware of her. She was a huge personality and a huge presence. That is gone now and it is an enormous adjustment that feels unreal and impossible. The house is so different without her. It’s hard to convey what a force she was, even after she grew weak and fragile. Her mind never changed.

Sage is a good dog but he’s quiet and subdued. He likes to be petted but otherwise he does not seek out interaction. He has not seemed to miss her much. He had already discounted her as she grew weaker, ignoring her, wagging his tail in her face, occasionally knocking her down unintentionally.

The only obvious change we saw in him was he would not eat his food in the kitchen. He was always fed in the living room and Pepper was fed in the kitchen. Originally this was to keep her from eating all his food and trying to stop him when he ate it. Later it was because she got canned food, chicken and pork to induce her to eat. Those things upset Sage’s tummy. He got scolded when he would sneak into the kitchen to eat her food. So when we suddenly moved his food he would not eat it. We’re transitioning his food back to the kitchen gradually.

Sage deserves to be top dog for whatever good years he has left. We don’t expect him to fill up our lives the way Pepper did. I’m not sure any dog could do that. She was unique.

Without her here we’ve realized how weak she was. She had not carried a baby in a long, long time. That was part of her bedtime routine, every single night. Her arthritis kept her from walks. I took Sage. She didn’t like that but she could tolerate it. She could not tolerate Mike taking Sage for a walk. Now we walk Sage together again.

Right now the grief is sharp and painful. It strikes sometimes without warning. Her grave is a comfort. Pictures are bittersweet. It’s hard to talk about her without crying. We look forward to the day when we can smile at pictures, chuckle over memories, when the pleasure at remembering her is greater than the bitterness of the loss of her. It will take a while. We’re not even close. But we know we’ll get there.

Others who have known me: 

Coventry, December 20, 2018

Hello Pepper!

We heard you took a walk over the Rainbow Bridge. We were very sad to hear that, we bet your owners are especially sad to see you go. We wanted to tell you to keep an eye out over there for Beya, Sisko and Emmie. You probably already met Emmie and Beya, we imagine they were there to greet you and welcome you to doggy heaven with nose kisses and special treats. Sisko usually only shows up if you have something for him... he never really shares - or thinks of others - he is king dog (at least in his own mind) and we are all there to serve him. Anyway, we know that you are dearly missed, and that mini poodle sized holes in your owners hearts are bigger than anyone can imagine...

We are sending you and your people love and greyhound kisses:

Gunner and Luci

Pepper's Place, for now.  In the spring, a more permanent marker.

Pepper's Place, now with her new marker, June 9, 2019.

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 Last revised:  Wednesday, December 04, 2019