I remember when I met him.
2005. I was just about to graduate from college. My parents said for my graduation gift I could have a class ring or a puppy. I had been talking about a puppy for years. Obviously, I could have cared less about a ring. Puppy!
It was a Sunday. The weather was looking pretty awful. I was in Florence about to head back to Columbia. I saw an ad in the State Newspaper for “CKC Yorkies. $400.” and a phone number. I left right then. Just felt like I needed to go. Storm or no storm. I picked up my friend Jessica and we headed to what felt like the middle of nowhere. When I say it was storming – it was STORMING. Jess and I thought that was a good sign – we would get the pick of the litter. We were right. No one else braved the storm that day to pick out their pup. We walked into a little barn and saw a chicken coop full of tiny little brown and black puppies. I picked up a big fat one and gave him the once over. Jess picked up this tiny little puppy – the runt – that all the other pups were jumping on. She said “But look. I’m wittle like you mom!” That was it. That was Piper. We went to a sketch ATM in a gas station. Got some cash. Signed some papers. Snuck him to Jess’s house. I was living in college housing so dogs were not allowed. He stayed with Jess for the night and eventually hung out with my mom and dad for a few weeks until I had my apartment.
I named him after a girl I saw on MTV True Life: I’m Obsessed with my Dog. Fitting, really. His middle name was Amadeus, named after my favorite composer. Over the years, he would pick up quite a few names: Pipe, Pierre, Pickle, Pearl, Woglin, Dog Face Killer, Peezy, P. He had lots of phrases for things that were so uniquely Piper: “Oh de Pipe.”, angry bees, diggin’ in da dirt, fakin’ in, sniffin’ dem eyeballs, shiver shakes, chester cheesin’, zombie eyes….
Piper was my first love. My big, big love. I lived in an apartment a couple of years followed by my first house. Just him and me and Izze. I traveled every week for work. He went with me. It got to the point that the double tree always had a dog bone for him. He was never treated like a dog so I don’t think he ever thought he was. He was OFFENDED if a dog tried to sniff his butt. He was allowed on all furniture. Slept with me in the big bed. He was brilliant too. He only chewed on toys that I handed him. Never anything else.
When I would get home, he would get so excited that he would “butt tuck” through the house. Imagine a dog tucking his butt low to the flo’ and running full stop. Between that and his beloved ‘Woo Woooooooo’ – he was pretty unique.
When I met Kyle, he told me he was allergic to dogs so if we were to keep dating, Piper had to be an outside dog. I told him if he was asking me to pick between the two, it wouldn’t end well for him. He made the right call. In an utterly amazing act of fate, it turns out Piper’s unique PH of hair is the ONLY dog Kyle isn’t allergic to. He was made for him.
Piper wasn’t really willing to share me with Kyle for a while. We said he was our chaperone. Kyle couldn’t get too close. He would break that crap up so fast. Kyle, elated that he found a dog he could finally snuggle, spent all his time petting Piper and “harumph” ing him (imagine making that noise in his neck.) Piper loved it. We knew it was real love when we went away for a vacation and came back to pick Pipe up and he ran past me to get to Kyle. Instant, big, huge love.
When we got married, my gift to Kyle was to officially get Piper’s last name changed to his last name. He was his son, after all.
This is little known, but Pipe and I had a sort of ET/Elliot connection. If he felt sick, I felt sick. If I had anxiety, he had anxiety. The last two weeks, I obviously have not been myself. I’ve had an incredible deep sadness that I couldn’t define. The day he died I had a massive panic attack that morning.
In 2014, Piper started acting like he was having trouble jumping. That was unusual. If you knew Pipe, he was called hyper Piper for a reason. He could jump as high as a chest of drawers. He could run faster than any person I know. The trepidation was unsettling. The vet thought it might have been a slipped disc. Two days later he was paralyzed. Our wonderful, wonderful vet called me and was very blunt. Take him to the ER and get an MRI and spinal tap, or put him to sleep. We chose the very, very expensive option. Of course we did. There wasn’t really another option. He had meningitis. He had to take roughly 8 medicines in various amounts 4 times a day. I had to teach him how to walk again. I had to give him warm baths each day to do rehabilitation on him to massage his muscles into
remembering how to work. It worked. We got a platform bed so that getting in at night wouldn’t be so much trouble.
Since then, he has relapsed twice. His neurologist is one of the kindest most wonderful doctors and would return emails at 1 in the morning. No matter what. Each time, Pipe wasn’t ready to give up. I told him as long as he wanted to fight, I was in it with him. When he was done, he had to tell me.
These past two months have been different. He lost weight dramatically. Walking became really difficult. He fell a lot. He slept a lot. We had to carry him everywhere. He cried a lot out of fear of falling. I told his neurologist and he said he thought his meningitis had gotten to the point where it might not be treatable anymore. He also probably had a secondary condition. We knew then that our time was limited.
We took him to the beach so he could dig in the dirt. He loved to do that. He loved to feel the breeze. We got him a new bed so his bones wouldn’t hurt so badly. We gave him so many treats. We told him we loved him every second we could.
Two days ago he was outside yelling at the neighbors when he collapsed. What happened afterwards is not something I really want to go into detail about except to say that it was the worst and hardest thing I have ever had to do. But he told me when he was ready and I promised him I would. I will always be willing to hurt so he wouldn’t have to anymore.
I miss him so much it physically hurts. We got home that night and I immediately threw up. I don’t know if it is because of the grief or the severing of our ET/Elliott connection. I threw up the entire next day too. I don’t think I will ever stop missing him.
I miss the way he roo rooed at me when he was frustrated.
I miss the way I could stare at him in the eyes and he would do his head back and forth and pounce.
I miss the way his paws smelled like gingerbread.
I miss how he always licked. All the time. No matter what.
I miss how he sniffed eyeballs.
I miss how much he desperately loved Locke. He keeps calling for him. “Piiiipuhhh”
I miss how he nosed through every plastic bag that came in this house.
I miss my best love. If you know me, you know Pipe. What am I without him?