A grant from The Grey Muzzle Organization to the Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) made all the difference for Pepper who was rescued at the age of 12. Thanks to Grey Muzzle funding, there was never any question about whether Pepper would receive the antibiotics, pain medication, and medicated baths that she needed. Risa Lapidow of VGSR wrote, “It was a great relief to Dawn McCarthy, Pepper’s long-term foster mom, to know that she would never have to worry about the financial aspects of Pepper's care. We can't thank Grey Muzzle enough.”
Dawn’s incredible tribute to Pepper describes the pain, perseverance and transcendent spirit of so many abused and neglected dogs:
“Virginia German Shepherd Rescue for many years has taken in dogs from a rural breeder in the Meadows of Dan area. About five years ago, after taking in several young dogs, VGSR offered to help raise funds to have the remaining dogs vetted, spayed and neutered. Our offer was declined.
Last year, the breeder called to relay that they were out of the business, had vacated the home, and we had one week to pick up the dogs. Arrangements were made and the last of the Meadows of Dan dogs, Pepper, Maddy, Spike and Wonder were brought into VGSR.
The condition of the place was horrible to say the least. Except for Spike, every dog was shut down and non-responsive. They had to be carried on blankets to the vehicle. During their first week in rescue, it was unknown if any, other than Spike, would survive. Pepper was the breeding bitch and mom of all the pups VGSR rescued.
When Pepper first came to me she would avoid human contact and kept a large amount of space between herself and people. Pepper would not approach, but if you touched her, she would stop and allow being petted, but once you quit, she moved on, showing no acknowledgement of the affection.
For several months, Pepper endured twice weekly, then weekly baths to fight the skin infections. She battled ear infections. Pepper never complained, although she would “sing” during her bath, but only in the bathtub. If she was bathed on the deck, she simply stood and patiently waited.
Pepper was deaf, but quickly learned hand signals for come, car, and biscuit. She would respond to come quickest when it was dinner time.
After many months, Pepper slowly began to open up. Her bubble became smaller and her trust grew. The first time she sought attention and nudged me, I cried. I had hoped, but never thought that day would arrive. After many invitations, one day, on her own she casually climbed onto the couch and claimed the “throne” seat. Eventually, she would sleep next to me while I worked and follow me through the house.
About four months ago Pepper was diagnosed with both a second degree heart blockage and a tumor on an adrenal gland. It did not slow her down. Two months ago, she had an attack of idiopathic vestibular disease, which was incredibly painful to watch. Three weeks ago she conquered a bacterial infection and then got hit with pancreatitis.
She battled through every malady with her usual aplomb. In between these battles, she was taken for a car ride nearly every day as it seemed to boost her spirits. Pepper didn’t really leave much of an option as she would head to the garage door when she realized I was preparing to leave.
Through it all Pepper never complained and as she began to feel better, she would give you her “Eeyore Face” with the look that said, “Is there perhaps a biscuit?”
Pepper’s first 12 years were not the life any dog should live. In her last year, she learned to trust, engaged with people, and enjoyed all the attention lavished on her at events from volunteers and visitors. Pepper, along with her two senior gal pals, Hannah and Sheba [they formed their own Red Hat Society], even graced the cover of a magazine.
In her last year, Pepper got to be a dog and revel in retirement, relaxing in the sun, sleeping on any and every dog bed in the home, and enjoying belly scratches, ear rubs, and car rides.
Pepper was a silent pup and except for bath-time crooning, she never “spoke.” It is hard to describe, but there was something about her spirit that captured you. She was a fighter with the sweetest, gentlest soul.
Sadly, the cancer found on her adrenal gland spread. Pepper went lovingly and peacefully on Monday.
Thank you VGSR for rescuing, caring for, and loving all the Meadows of Dan dogs. And thank you for entrusting Pepper to me.”
– Dawn McCarthy, VGSR