Anyone who knows me knows Pipp, my little pug. She first entered my life on my birthday in 2006, and didn’t leave it until this past Sunday.
Pipp was a rescue, acquired in part to accompany my first pug Bacci, a stout, lovable little blockhead who bonded so thoroughly with my then-partner that he would bawl like a baby whenever she was away. As soon as Pipp arrived, a year after Bacci, she was my little girl.
The pair of them were loads of fun, always with the hilarious photo-ops. They were pretty sporty, too. We’d take them for long walks every day, and every once in a while (especially after a bath), they’d catch rocket-butt. Pipp’s speed and agility were truly surprising, baiting Bacci to chase her, then evading him with lightning bursts, darts, and weaves. But most of the time it was snuggles and naps. After breakfast (and throughout the day), Pipp would find me and politely request lap time by bracing her front paws against my leg, then wait quietly until I picked her up.
In 2012, Pipp was diagnosed with diabetes. When I learned that this meant giving her an injection twice daily, I was worried… but decided to made it a game, giving her a nice massage as prelude to each shot, a procedure I got very good at (and she mostly didn’t notice or react to). I loved those times together, every single morning and evening, and I think she did too.
Diabetic dogs are notorious for expiring sooner than most. What saved Pipp, I am convinced, was her wonderfully calm and cooperative attitude. She was a fantastic patient and truly seemed to understand that we were helping her, showing remarkable patience and resilience at every turn. Critical, because within the first year, the diabetes wreaked such havoc with her little system that she nearly died from pancreatitis. Hospitalized for 5 days, she still seemed determined to stick around, so I painstakingly nursed her back to health over the next several weeks, a process that bound us together even more deeply. Pipp made a full recovery and never relapsed, a ravenous little piggie for the rest of her days.
The next setback came about a year later, when the difficult-to-control diabetes took her eyesight. I was sad to see it, but blind Pipp was actually just a slower, more cautious Pipp, otherwise unchanged in enthusiasm or intrepidness. She adapted quickly, learning to dip her chin down whenever exploring, taking occasional bonks on the tough upper part of her forehead. I did my best to steer her clear, of course, and for the most part she took cues like a champ.
The next 6-7 years included lots of cozy time, travel, and occasional turmoil, including a few more medical events, like needing her right eye removed. It hurt, of course, but she healed quickly and it actually ended up hard to notice.
Through it all, though, what stands out most is how Pipp provided me with continuity, my little rock of a throughline, when the rest of my life collapsed and changed radically. Home sold (and quickly leveled!), marriage ended, an entirely new life and happily, a new love — whose full-hearted embracing of Pipp definitely helped seal the deal. I moved to Ventura, Pipp in tow, and we acclimated beautifully. Now “semi-retired” and fully adjusted to my new life, I recently found part-time work helping a wonderful non-profit. Pipp’s final weekend, it should be noted, came literally on the eve of my starting the new job; I’d made sure to get hours that would not interfere with caring for Pipp, but there you go.
She was such a good girl. She was my friend, she was magical, and she will be missed.