Living just east of Crazy

Pepper – Soccer player, escape artist, father of a nation

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Sep• 04•12

Pepper thought he was the great Pele. When we played kickball, Pele Pepper would intercept the ball and take off. He was the master at maneuvering the ball around kids and could change directions in an instant. The first few times it was kind of funny, but as his fun dragged on, we grew weary of trying to recapture our ball.

No amount of scolding could make him resist. He’d sit for a moment, but when someone kicked the ball, the image of it streaking across the grass was too much for him to resist. The fielder would reach down to retrieve the ball and a black and white streak would swoop in and take it. Then the soccer game was on. Yelling at him didn’t work. Chasing only encouraged him more. He was the master of the field. And scoring was not his goal. Ball domination was the only thing on his mind.

The only way to stop the great Pepper was to lock him in the house. So when we planned to play, I’d take Pepper inside and give clear instructions, “Don’t let him out.”

My mother saw an advantage in Pepper’s prowess. When she wanted me to come home, she’d let him out. Pepper would sniff around the yard a few moments to pick up my trail, and off he’d go. A short time later I’d return home with him in a fury. “Who let Pepper out?”

“I’m not sure how he got out,” Mom would say, “but since you’re home, get washed up. It’s time for supper.”

Oh the torment. Dumb dog! Now I have to stay home because of you.

When Pepper wanted out of the house, he’d find ingenuous ways to get free. He was scared of heights, so I would close off the steps on the back porch to keep him from getting away. When the bushes grew one summer, they made it to the floor of the porch. Dad trimmed them to be even with the porch and Pepper saw an opportunity.

Suddenly he was able to get off the porch. I wondered how a dog so fearful of heights could get down. One day I put him on the porch and hid. He looked around for witnesses and not seeing me, he stepped into a bush. It bent over and gently deposited him on the ground. Then off he went to enjoy his freedom.

The most common reason for his desire for escape was the call of a dog in heat. Pepper fathered many puppies over the years. Sometimes he would come home battered and bruised from fighting over the right to be a puppy papa. Boston Terriers are not very big dogs, but Pepper didn’t seem to realize this. He was friendly with people, but never backed down from a fight with another dog. If I went to find him, once he saw me he knew he had an ally. Immediately he would attack one of his rivals and I’d have to come to the rescue. He played this ace in the hole more than once.

When yet another dog was in heat, Pepper set off for adventure. Leaving him wasn’t a good option because sometimes he would be gone for days at a time and get quite a few scars in his battle for dominance. When I realized he had escaped, I set off to find him. Way off in the distance, I heard the sound of dogs barking. Many dogs. I grabbed my old bike and headed off to find him. It wasn’t hard. I just followed the sound. The barks kept moving, so it took a while. I ended up pushing my bike through the woods. At last I found the mass of dogs. I came across a dirt road and looked down the hill. A female dog was proudly trotting downhill with about a dozen dogs barking for her attention. In the middle of the pack was Pepper.

Calling for Pepper wasn’t an option. I had visions of a doggy free-for-all. That wouldn’t be a good scenario. After assessing my options, I decided a surprise attack was the best course of action. I swung onto the seat of my bike, sped down the hill, and drove right into the pack of dogs. A very surprised Pepper looked to see the cause of the commotion and saw me. He bore his teeth for attack and looked at the dog beside him. Before he could get off a cheap shot, I bent over, swooped down one arm, and snagged him up. Amazingly, I didn’t crash my bike on the rutted dirt road, didn’t hit any dogs, and managed to capture Pepper. It was a picture perfect mission and Pepper returned to the confinements of the house.

Still desperate to return to the hunt for fatherhood, Pepper sought for a way out of the house. When I returned from playing, Pepper was stuck outside my sister’s window. Earlier in the year, Dad had built planters and installed them below our windows. We didn’t have air conditioning, so in the summer, the windows would be opened and the ceiling fan running. Pepper found my sister’s window open, so he stepped into the planter. Then two unfortunate things happened. He discovered he was about six feet off the ground, and with his fear of heights, jumping wasn’t an option. Second, he bumped the window and it apparently slid shut. He was trapped on the planter and unable to get down or back into the house. I have no idea how long he stood outside the window before I came home.

One evening Pepper didn’t come home. About 11pm, Mom came and said she was going to look for him. Mom’s Lincoln Mercury had a very distinct engine sound and Pepper recognized it. When we drove down the street behind us, he wasn’t there. When we returned, he was sitting on a concrete drain at the corner of the street. We opened the door and he hopped in. Pepper enjoyed the ride. He enjoyed it so much, he decided to do it again the next night. Sure enough, he was sitting on the same drain and waiting for us the next night. The third night he also didn’t come home. When we drove around, sure enough, Pepper was waiting for us on the drain cover. My mother wasn’t thrilled. Pepper hopped into the car and mom started giving him a piece of her mind. He slunk down and she scolded him all the way home.

The next day he wasn’t home again. We got into the car and went, but this time Pepper wasn’t on the drain cover. After an unsuccessful search, we returned home to find Pepper waiting by the door in the carport. He had that innocent look that said, “I’ve been waiting all night to get in. Where have you guys been?”

Eddie Snipes 2012

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