Text and photos by Vivian Escaravage-PerezAt first my mom, Julie, and I thought Pepper was a coyote. We had never seen a blue heeler before. She had been abandoned in an empty lot in the middle of winter. For four weeks, we noticed she stayed in the same spot as if she was waiting for someone. I suggested we start feeding her in the empty lot by our house. She ate the food and drank the water we gave her but she wouldn't come too close to me. She would never bark at us, but she would run away and then she came back to eat. I felt better that she was eating because she was very thin. I knew she had been abandoned.
The nights were very cold so we decided to put some blankets down for her. Sometimes the wind was very strong. She'd lay down on the blankets during the days and hide during the night under a neighbor's RV. One day I discovered she was pregnant, so I called Animal Control. They picked her up and she gave birth to ten puppies. No one came to claim her so my mom and I adopted her and fostered her puppies until they were weaned. One by one, eight puppies died from respiratory problems because Pepper had been in the cold for such a long time.
The two surviving puppies, Inky and Duke are healthy, happy four-month-olds. Pepper is three to four years old and she is the sweetest dog. Duke is a Border Collie, and little Inky has the markings of Pepper. They have their own personalities: Duke is more reserved and Inky is very lovable. They are definitely three blessings.
God brought Pepper into our lives so she would know about love and caring. She shows signs of abuse, but she has learned to trust us. She has an old scar on her right hip from a knife cut and sometimes when I raise a glass of water, she runs in fear. At first she thought I would abandon her again. I think that is why she ate so much in the first month. Now she doesn't eat so much because I know she trusts me. She is a very loving dog. It has taken her time to heal from her trauma but now she knows she is for keeps.
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