According to Ryder her full name is Fuzzy Pepperoni, but we agreed to call her Pepper because it’s a liiittle easier.
We welcomed Pepper into our family on Sunday afternoon. Ryan drove two hours to South Carolina to pick her up from Upstate SC Hearts for Paws Animal Rescue and then drove the two hours back home with our new girl so she could officially meet her new family!
I first found out about Pepper right before Thanksgiving. I subscribed to a vizsla rescue email list about a month after Sadie died. We were nowhere near ready for another dog but I also felt like it wouldn’t hurt to see if any vizslas needed a home and might be a good fit for our family when the time was right. Apparently vizslas are coveted on the adoption front because for over a year, we never saw one pop up to rescue in North Carolina and the dogs we saw available for adoption in other Southeastern states were scooped up quickly (which is an absolutely wonderful thing).
Occasionally, when a vizsla adoption email would come through, I’d find myself clicking the links and looking at other sweet dogs who needed homes. The timing was never right as we’ll have lived in four homes by the end of the year, but now that we’re just a couple of weeks away from our big, final move, a dog felt like something we could do again.
I’ve always gravitated toward medium or large dogs but then one day Ryder saw a teeny little chihuahua in the passenger’s seat of a car and was so obsessed with that little thing. It sparked something inside of me and made me think maybe a little dog might mesh well with our family in this stage of life. Our boys adore animals and loved playing with Sadie so much. I knew they’d love any dog we brought home but a spunky little dog they could cuddle and gently carry? Well, I had a feeling that would be heaven on four furry legs for them.
I mentioned the idea to Ryan a few months ago and he was fully on board. We still very much hope to have a vizsla again one day but began to look at breeds outside of vizslas to adopt.
Adopting a dog has a million and one benefits beyond providing a wonderful animal with a safe and loving home. So many amazing rescues and dog foster families out there can help match you with a dog that fits your family and it was so incredibly helpful to me as a mom of three young boys to have more information about a dog before welcoming a pet we will have for years and years into our family. The information Upstate SC Hearts for Paws Animal Rescue shared about Pepper made me think she might be the perfect fit for us. They described her as sweet, loving and affectionate and great around kids and people. They said she didn’t bark much at all (something I worried a little might make Rhett nervous) and was not aggressive. She was very quickly checking so many of our boxes!
When I expressed my interest in Pepper, I was asked to fill out a detailed adoption form which I did within 10 minutes because I felt myself becoming more and more attached to Pepper from afar. The next day the rescue checked in with the vet we used when we had Sadie as a reference point (something I LOVE that they do!) and we talked on the phone for a bit. When we were told Pepper could be ours pending an in-person meeting, we were thrilled! Ryan and I kept all of this quiet from the boys. As wonderful as Pepper seemed from the rescue’s description we still didn’t want to mention anything until we were able to meet her in person.
Ryan said it was clear immediately that Pepper would mesh well with our crew. She was spunky and loving, a little shy at first but clearly a very affectionate dog. Once I heard this from Ryan, I told the boys Dad was on his way home with a very special surprise. They had no idea what was coming their way and were beyond thrilled when teeny Pepper came running into the living room.
So how’s it going so far? Really, really well!!! It was very clear the first day that Pepper was a little nervous in her new home. She really wanted to be right up against us if we were seated but was skittish and would want to run behind us when we were walking around. She’s not great on a leash at the moment and Ryan and I had major flashbacks to walking Sadie on a leash at first when she’d just sit down in the grass and we’d have to encourage her and gently pull her along. Pepper will get there!
Pepper is about 5 months old (we think) and was already crate trained at the rescue which was not something we were familiar with since Ryan and I majorly failed at crate training Sadie. (Sadie cried the first night and we let her sleep with us and all was over from there.) We wanted to make Pepper’s transition into life with our family as smooth as possible so we bought her a crate, dog bed and a couple toys. I also unboxed the things we saved from Sadie and found one of Sadie’s old blankets to include in her crate as well. (Truth time: I didn’t wash Sadie’s blankets after she died because I wanted them to retain her smell. Fast forward 1.5 years later and I opened the box of her things and it smelled awful. Like a mix of old animal and plastic and I felt a giant wash of sadness that I truly will never smell Sadie’s comforting scent again.)
Pepper is a fairly quiet dog and didn’t whine or bark much at all the first day we had her but when we put her in her crate at night she cried a bit so Ryan and I let her sleep with us. It was a restless night and she seemed to pop up at every little thing which made us think she truly would be more comfortable and less stressed in her own space in her crate. I reached out to the rescue for some tips and did more research on crate training. I’m happy to report Pepper’s second night went a million times better so here’s hoping we can stick to it, as I think having her crate with us in the rental house and then our new house will help with continuity for Pepper and make our upcoming move a little easier for her. (I also just ordered her the Snuggle Puppy heartbeat toy that’s supposed to help with comforting dogs in their crate since she was used to sleeping in a crate surrounded by other crated dogs. TBD on whether it not it helps!) Are we a little crazy for getting a dog two(ish) weeks before we move into our new house? Maybe! But Pepper needed a home and we felt a strong desire to give her a loving one.
Pepper is a tiny little thing — about 6 pounds! — and is currently happiest curled up in our laps or against our legs on the couch. She’s been absolutely fantastic with the boys. She will rest in their laps for hours, falls asleep right up against them and seems to absolutely relish the attention and love they give her. I’m taking it as a great sign that she stays curled up against the big kids in their room when they’re reading together even after Ryan and I leave the room and the door is wide open.
Once we welcomed Pepper into our home, naming her became a top priority! We tossed around a bunch of different names (Gigi, Phoebe, Lucy, Cici) but when Chase said Pepper, we knew it was the one! Ryder insisted her full name really be “Fuzzy Pepperoni” so that’s where we landed.
We are so happy to have Fuzzy Pepperoni — “Pepper” — as the newest member of our family! Welcome home, Pepper! We already love you tons!