Goodbye Pip

It was just another late Spring afternoon, the warm May breeze had our neighborhood’s flowers dancing and our minds on thoughts of a summer filled with a lot of nothing.  The four of us were walking home from the pool when Holly said we were being followed.  We looked back and saw an obviously lost, un-collared, full-blooded Boston Terrier tagging along behind us.  Her ears were pulled back; her eyes wide open as she searched for a familiar landmark.  She followed us home where we all agreed to round her up and this little Terrier readily agreed to come into our yard and receive some attention.  We thought surely the owner would appear momentarily so we kept an eye out for a slow moving car or a neighbor with an empty leash.  When the sun went down we placed her in our backyard, much to the chagrin of Bonnie, our Jack Russell Terrier.  The next day we did what any dog lover would do; we placed flyers on telephone poles, put ads in the paper, called all the vets and waited.  Surely no one would let a Boston just wander off, right?  Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and all of our efforts went unanswered as our little Boston soon became part of the family.  Amy even gave her a new name: Pip, after another Boston Terrier we had once known.  Pip was quirky, sweet and silly, without a mean bone in her body; the polar opposite of our Jack Russell.  Bonnie was protective, clever, cunning and suspicious and didn’t care for some free-loading wanderer.  Eventually Bonnie became agreeable, took her new found companion under her wing and tried to teach her the ways of a Jack Russell.  Bonnie would stalk anything and delighted in chasing squirrels.  She would sit patiently and wait for two or three of them to crunch down an oak tree then as they sniffed their way ten or fifteen feet from their tree, Bonnie would tear across the yard on a suicidal sprint, determined to have squirrel for supper.  Pip would watch then eventually joined in the chase yet Pip was never sure of why she was running.  She bounced along behind Bonnie, with her eyes alight and tongue hanging out, looking like a canine version of Huntz Hall.


She ran because Bonnie ran and that was enough for her.  On our trips to the beach she usually took one splash in the ocean then sat and watched as Bonnie attacked wave after wave.  When we went camping Pip would burrow into a sleeping bag, her eyes full of worry while Bonnie plotted the midnight mauling of whatever animal dared to venture within her range.

Pip came into our lives when Bonnie was already 11 years old and I’ll never forget the way Pip sat in the backyard and waited for hours, wondering when Bonnie would return.  Bonnie was the perfect dog for me, she could hike all day, swim all afternoon and never shied away from a confrontation.  When Pip became our sole dog, I also mellowed and Pip became comforting, a respite instead of a comrade in arms.

In the last six months, Pip’s health declined precipitously.  She lost her hearing; developed cataracts then a few months ago became incontinent.  Our friend and vet Sally believed Pip’s brain had deteriorated via a sort of dog Alzheimer’s.  Pip was never the sharpest knife in the block but she was certainly the sweetest and I’m sure if she could talk she would have been mortified of her state of health.  At night Pip used to calmly slip into her cage yet in the last few months she became easily frightened, the cage became a prison and not a home so she slept on our bed.  In the last month or so she started falling off the bed; perhaps she was trying to jump down and could no longer judge the distance?  She would routinely bump headlong into furniture, walk into a closed door or stumble into the street.  When her weight started to drop off, in spite of her full meals, we all agreed it was time. On a warm Spring day, I buried her at the end of a meadow of dancing flowers, much like the day when she stumbled into our lives.  I dug into the thickly rooted earth with a double bladed axe, dirtied my feet and bloodied my hands because this shouldn’t be easy.

flowers 2

Pip’s favorite field

Six months after Pip had been with us a lady called and told us that this was her mother’s dog.  “If you smack a rolled up newspaper in your hand and yell, she’ll run under the bed.”  I hesitated then said I wouldn’t know about that but Pip was enjoying her time with us.  “Keep her.  Mom’s already forgot about her.”

When we lose a beloved pet, it’s also a loss of a bit of ourselves.  Pip was with us on many grand adventures and family outings, a faithful companion and a link to our younger days of toddling kids that dreamed not of college but of third grade and cakes with ten candles.  I like to think that Pip lucked out with us; we never rolled up a newspaper and yelled at her, she ate well and she saw many wonderful sights.  I know this may sound trite but I hope she’s been reunited with Bonnie.



Ready for her next adventure


  • Pam @ Blueberries And Blessings
    Posted at 20:57h, 15 May Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to Pip. I hope she and Bonnie are happily chasing squirrels together again.

    • Debbie Caton-Howard
      Posted at 22:14h, 15 May Reply

      Precious way to sum up the joy she brought your family! Yet again, I’ve enjoyed your way with words. Nice read. I am sorry for your loss though. My golden retriever “Sydney ” passed a few years ago and I still miss her. It’s been a bumpy ride around your place these past few months so I wish you lots of smiles!

      • ChefJohn
        Posted at 04:43h, 16 May Reply

        thanks Debbie, a summer of smiles is on the horizon 😉

    • ChefJohn
      Posted at 04:42h, 16 May Reply

      thank you very much Pam

  • Tom Stronach
    Posted at 22:57h, 15 May Reply

    Know how you must be feeling buddy, when we lost our last pet, ‘Sooty’ a wee black and white cat who was perpetually bullied by all the other cats in the neighbourhood, I cried all the way back from the vets.

  • ChefJohn
    Posted at 04:42h, 16 May Reply

    thank you Tom

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 09:00h, 16 May Reply

    We will all miss Pip around here. We have many memories of walking her around the neighborhood and the boys have always enjoyed playing with her! RIP sweet Pip- You’ll be missed!

  • Julia Rachel Barrett
    Posted at 14:15h, 16 May Reply

    Oh, I’m sorry. What a sweetie. I know you’ll miss her.

    • ChefJohn
      Posted at 16:58h, 16 May Reply

      thank you Julia

  • Liz Bardsley
    Posted at 17:40h, 16 May Reply

    Touching tribute John. How many nights do we come home from work late and the only creature stirring is the dog that is so happy to see us! Dogs are chef’s best friends absolutely! The cats just tolerate us.

    • ChefJohn
      Posted at 20:29h, 16 May Reply

      thank you Liz and yes, I agree

  • Janice
    Posted at 21:02h, 16 May Reply

    Ohhhh Pip. John I’m heartbroken for you, and my eyes seem to be leaking now. Our Elk hound is 15 years old. We know the time is near when we’ll lose him. I only hope I am able to write a tribute even half as lovely as this tribute for your little Pip. I also hope soon you’ll write “Hello” something, because these “Goodbye’s” are so hard on the heart. 🙁

    • ChefJohn
      Posted at 11:52h, 18 May Reply

      thank you very much Janice, unlike her previous owner, we won’t forget her

  • Sharon Frazier
    Posted at 18:20h, 18 May Reply

    What a beautiful tribute to Pip. She was lucky to have “found” you and your family.

    Our pets become such a huge part of our lives and it is so hard when they go on to Doggie Heaven. I remember each and every dog that was part of our family, beginning with a little white dog named Skipper. And I would bet you anything that Skipper and Pip are running and chasing squirrels all over Doggie Heaven now. 🙂

    RIP, sweet Pip.

  • Kevin Hanrahan
    Posted at 19:02h, 20 May Reply

    So sorry to hear about our loss John.

  • Jenni
    Posted at 20:15h, 20 May Reply

    Oh, John! I am so sorry to hear about Pip. So hard to lose such a beloved and singular member of the family as Pip. I am so very sorry for your loss. Love to you and Amy. <3

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