Kipper by Melaine and Frank Mero / Melaine and Frank Mero

Our 9 year old daughter wanted a puppy of her own. After her dad finally said okay, we started the search. After many sad trips to local animal shelters, we finally found the perfect one at the Lewis County Animal Shelter in Centralia WA. Her, a litter mate and mother had been abandoned on a seldom used logging road, found and brought to the shelter. At seven weeks old she was very independent and didn’t show a lot of puppyish affection. She looked rather like a pot bellied piglet but was very cute. She grew up into a beautiful dog with longish silky hair. She became a vital member of our family.

She bonded with my husband immediately, much to our daughters disappointment. She became his shadow, his best friend. She seemed to love all of us, but worshiped him. She was never a typical puppy. House training took a day. She didn’t chew things other than what was given her. She didn’t try to snitch food, didn’t eat the cats food and never touched the cat box. She had a very strong herding instinct. She’d herd the cat, other dogs and even flies if there were a lot outside. She kept a consatant eye on her man. If he was in the house she would follow him room to room and wait outside the door if the door was shut.She went everywhere with him that a dog could go. If she couldn’t go in she’d wait in the car. She enjoyed McDonalds hamburgers which my husband would occasionally get for her. One time he picked some up, gave her one and was bringing the rest home for our two human children. He stopped at the grocery store, leaving her in the car with the bag of food. She never touched the bag even though it was sitting right beside her.

One of her most unique features was her bugle. She would greet everyone who came up to her or came in her house with a sound that was a mix between a howl, growl and bark, best described as a bugle.

For the last year we have co-managed a county park campground with our son. Every day she looked forward to going to the park. She would run constantly, chasing squirrels from tree to tree as long as we stayed in one area. When we walked the trails she would range about 20 yards in front of us with her tail straight up like a banner. She would stop every so often, look over her shoulder to make sure we were still following. We sometimes played a game where we would slip off the trail into the brush when she wasn’t looking. She would come racing back and hunt till she found us, then we would get quite the scolding.

She had so many facial expressions and could say so much just by the set of her ears and eyes. Everyone who knew her said she was a person in a hairy little body.

At the beginning of March 2003, she started acting like she didn’t feel well. Just not as active as she usually was. She was always so stalwart and would never whimper or whine from pain. Last summer she tore her back knee ligament. Other than not using it as much she never complained. After surgery to repair the tear she couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t let her run and play and kept a leash on her at the park. We took her to the vet in early March. The vet couldn’t find anything really wrong and attributed her actions to possibly soreness of the leg or possibly back pain and gave us pain medication to give her. After about a week she was back to herself but not quite as active. We attributed it to age, she was almost eight after all. On a Friday evening, she started being rather lethargic and panting alot. As the weekend progressed her panting got worse.

We live in a rather rural area and don’t have 24 hour vet service. I tried to contact one on Saturday but the two local vets were out of town. My husband took her into the vet first thing Monday morning. She was kept there for blood tests and x-rays. The vet called that afternoon to say that she had a severe internal chest infection and that there wasn’t much hope. She said that she could try draining the chest cavity and treat with an aggresive bout of anti-biotics but it would be very expensive, possibly up to a thousand $, and it would only give Kipper a 50% chance at survival. My husband is retired on a small pension and my wages are average. We told the vet we didn’t care what the cost, please save her if possible. The call came the next morning that Kipper didn’t make it through the night. We picked her up and took her to the park she loved so well and laid her to rest under a large tree in the woods. My husband cried like I’d never seen him, not even at his parents funerals. His words were “You were the best dog I’ve ever known, you were the best friend I’ve ever known.”

It has been almost a week and I still cry every day. It is hard enough at home, but harder at the park. Our other dog, Max, mastiff/ St. Bernard cross, still checks her places and whines when he can’t find her. I miss her so much! I feel like I’ve lost a child and a friend and I’m sure my husband feels it more strongly. A dog like that finds a person once in a lifetime. She will never be replaced in our hearts or home. Words cannot convey her personality or spirit.


In our hearts forever,
Melaine and Frank Mero