She Loathed Those Boots

I wrote this three years ago, to the day. I’m still not over it.

Here goes…

Nearly twenty years ago, I stopped at a service station/bus stop to fill the gas tank in my unmarked police car. In those days, the department had a contract with a fuel company that allowed us to fill up at various spots throughout the city, and one of those places also served as this particular bus stop.

Rain was coming down in sheets, but I stopped anyway because but I liked to fill my tank when it hit the halfway mark so I wouldn’t be caught short during an emergency.

I was finishing up, placing the nozzle back into its proper spot on the pump, when I saw three young men approaching a waiting bus. Gusty winds blew the rain sideways at times and I was getting soaked. But the men (all three had a sort of homeless look to them—shaggy hair and dirty, well-worn clothes) seemed to be in no big hurry, splashing and tromping through puddles as they made their way across the asphalt, towing tattered, rolling luggage behind them.

One of the guys held a small puppy in his arms. It was obvious by the way he carried the scared pup that he didn’t care about her. And she was filthy. Her white coat was nearly gray and quite matted.

The first two men presented tickets and climbed aboard the bus. But when the third man, the one carrying the dog, attempted to board, the driver said, “You can’t bring that dog on this bus.” So the man looked around a couple of times and then sort of tossed her onto the wet pavement, and climbed aboard. The bus pulled away with a burp of black exhaust.

The pitiful puppy never moved. Instead, she looked confused and simply stood in the rain, shivering. I ran over and scooped her up and she immediately snuggled deep into my arms. So I carried her back to my car, cranked the heat on high, and headed home to tell Denene that we had a house guest. But I promised that we’d only keep her until we could find her a good home. After all, we already had two active-duty police canines living with us, a huge rottweiler and an overgrown lab that was a true sweetheart. We did not have room for a third dog. No way. Wasn’t going to happen.

Well, we fed the little poodle and gave her a drink of water. Then we gave her a name and a permanent home. She was irresistible. Pebbles (I don’t remember how we decided on her name) quickly found a place in our hearts, and she was by our sides day-in and day-out for almost two decades. She tagged along on each of our moves, on a cross-country RV trip, hikes, to the beach…everywhere we went. In fact, we never went anywhere or did anything without her.

And she was actually kind enough to endure our little quirks, like the time we bought her a raincoat and boots for Christmas. She hated to get her feet wet, but she loathed those boots even more. She tolerated the raincoat, though.

Pebbles was at my feet every day during the writing of my book on police procedure. She was my first “listener.” And she even caused a bit of a stir with my editor, who called one day to ask why, in the middle of a paragraph about fingerprinting, did I write,” Do you need to go pee-pee?” Well, at that time I was using voice-activated software and I’d forgotten to switch it off  when I was preparing to take her outside for a break. I guess I missed the odd text when I proofread the chapter.

Denene and I enjoy our dessert around 8pm. Pebbles also enjoyed her own dessert at precisely the same time—four cheese-flavored Goldfish crackers. Not three. Not two. Not five. Exactly and precisely, four. And we’d better not have been a minute later than 8, either, or she’d drive us nuts until we gave her her “fish.”

In the beginning, Pebbles was too frightened to sleep alone, so we allowed her to claim a spot on our bed. You know, until her anxieties passed. Well, you know the name of that tune. She slept with us every single night of her time with us. She had her own tiny pillow and blanket, too. And a cold nose and pointy toenails. She insisted on touching me from time to time during the night, making sure I was there. Or, if she was cold she’d snuggle as close as she could get. Sure, I hated it so much that I’d roll over and put an arm around her until I felt her go back to sleep. Yep, the three of us were as thick as thieves. Best friends. Pals forever. All for one and one for all.

And yesterday, when she suddenly fell ill, we were there when she left us, snuggling close one final time before she closed her eyes and sighed.

And I cannot begin to tell you what a huge hole was left in our hearts. We’ll miss her, always.

Damn, I loved that dog…

21 thoughts on “She Loathed Those Boots

  • Carolyn Hughey

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I remember that pain all too well even though its been six years since our Yanni closed her eyes and went home to doggie heaven. She was a Bichon, the size of Pebbles, and a member of the family. I still cry whenever I read stories like yours remembering that she’s not with us anymore, but her memory lives on forever in our hearts just the way Pebbles with for you.

    Pebbles is lucky you were there when she was abandoned. You gave her a good life and she loved being spoiled by two loving parents.

  • Coco

    Dear Lee,
    Tears flowing down my face after reading this. I know how you both feel. Been there. You and Denene are very special people.

  • J.D. Allen

    Oooh.. I had a year that I lost three of my furry friends. I was lost for while. we miss them so much. Since, we have repacked our home with four cats and will be adopting a German Shepherd soon.

    Pets are such a big part of our lives and their loss cuts us deep. Much love and hugs to you and Denene.

  • Jerrie Alexander

    The ones we save are always the sweetest. Our little Buddy had been thrown away and bitten by a big dog. He found his way to our yard and could go no further. That was three years ago and he, too, goes where we go. My husband is ill and to get out of the bed in the morning and see Buddy curled up next to his is a blessing for sure. Thanks for sharing your story. You and your wife were true heroes.

  • Annette Dashofy

    Damn it, Lee, you have me sobbing here. I miss my Sammie.

  • Ann Westergaard

    I am so sorry for the loss of your little friend. It is heartbreaking.

  • Maris

    I said goodbye to my buddy 10 months ago and I’m still not over it.

  • Ursula Renee

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Catie Rhodes

    You made me cry, but I applaud you for being one of the good guys.

    We got our Pomeranian, Angel, from a man who had terminal cancer. He knew he wasn’t going to live much longer, and he wanted a home for his dog. We agreed, and Angel’s previous owner died within the same month. He must have been waiting to find her a home. Angel was a wonderful Pomeranian. The best. We had many good years together. Just like you and your wife, I held her while she left us. She left paw prints on my heart.

  • Debby Hanoka


    I am so very sorry for your loss. Pets like Pebbles are part of the family, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You are a true hero.

    Debby Hanoka
    Boca Raton, FL, USA

  • Kari Wainwright

    Lee, I still remember reading this blog the first time, and I can’t say I remember most blogs for long. As I write, my little dog is curled up on my lap and I appreciate all the moments I get to spend with him. All three of you were lucky you witnessed Pebbles dilemma that rainy day and that you had so many wonderful years together.

  • Marcy

    Lee, I’m so sorry. Those little ones sure find a way into our hearts. As I read this, I thought of my Border collie. We had him for fifteen years, and like you, I’m still not over it. I still cry over Scooby Dog from time to tim.

    It’s wonderful that you gave Pebbles a love home. Those rescued pups sure do give a lot of love in return.

  • Reine

    Lee, thank you.

  • Art

    Beautifully written, Lee. Very touching. Thanks for saving what would have been a stray.

  • Patti Whirls

    Awww…I’m so very sorry that Pebbles went to the Rainbow Bridge. You and your wife made her life happier than she ever could have imagined!! You know, it always amazes me that big, tough police guys have such sweet, gentle hearts! :) God Bless You, Lee!

  • Chris Norbury

    A good pet… wow, words can’t describe the love. Beautiful story, Lee.


  • Jenna Black

    I know very well the heartbreak you’re going through, and you have my sympathies. My husband and I have had two “just until we find a good home” dogs, one of which we lost a few years ago and one that’s still with us. Hugs to you and Denene, and good on you for giving Pebbles the home she deserved.

  • Leigh Lundin

    They get past barriers of the heart. One never forgets. I still miss my childhood dog.

  • Linda Brue

    There will be an empty spot in your heart forever. You will probably have other animals and love them fiercely as well, but that spot will never be filled. One animal never “replaces” the other, but instead takes its place in the long line of unconditional love that stretches from our hearts to heaven.

  • Wil A. Emerson

    What a wonderful groups of wusses…..said with love in my heart for all of us who have lost that special pup, that good friend. Loyal and loving…You done good, Lee. My Mac is probably head over heels in love with Pebbles in doggy heaven.

  • Ginger Lewis

    Lee, this blog really touched my heart. Howard and I have felt such strong connections with all our dogs, and ache every time we relive the process of losing one. It doesn’t matter if you still have other dogs at home when you lose one — you still miss the one you just said goodbye to.

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