Long before I wandered into Pandabonium and K's lives, there was a dog named Peppi. Peppi was a black standard poodle who took care of Pandabonium's family for many years. The stories about him, some of which Pandabonium has shared with me, would fill an entire blog. While PB is recuperating from a cold, I thought I'd sneak in and post a picture or two of Peppi.
Standard poodles are a clever breed and I guess Peppi demonstrated this trait with many behaviors that made him seem almost human to, well, his humans. Like many dogs he enjoyed swimming in the pool and the ocean (poodles have webbed feet, like other retrievers). Not me - the ocean scares me. PB tells me Peppi would cheat when racing laps in the pool - he'd start off fair (on your mark, get set, go!) but if he got to the other side first he would put his paws up on the coping and declare himself the winner, whereas if he came in second, he would merely touch the side and turn around to make it a two lap race. He loved chasing seagulls on the beach, riding in the truck, sailing in a small boat, hiking, even riding in an airplane. He liked walking around on the roof of the house, which was always a shock for any door to door salesmen who dared to approach.
It was an era of television heroes: Zorro, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Sgt Preston of the Yukon and his dog King, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the Lone Ranger (who lived just a few blocks from Peppi) and Tonto, Sky King and many others. They were real people, real dogs, often displaying courage in their off-camera lives, playing idealized heroes that a dog and his boy could look up to.
Do kids have such today? or are all the heroes now purposefully flawed in some way (both on and off screen) to make them more "believable", the ideals "easier" to attain or even derided as not worthy of effort? Or is my master just becoming a grouchy ol' bear, who is full o' beans?
Anyway, Peppi was a loyal servant, but jealous of anything or anyone who competed with him for attention. One day, a book that PB's father had left on the table next to his armchair disappeared. Then his mother's book. PB's thick music practice book "Arban's Method for the Trombone" likewise went missing. They were found some time later - in pieces - buried in various parts of the garden in the back yard. PB's brother dubbed it the Pépé le Moko "Underground Library".
Some people think poodles are wimps. Peppi was anything but. He even bit a few people (he thought it was really necessary) and was a tough dog in general. He survived a leap from the pickup truck cab at 30 mph (he'd seen a squirrel he wanted to chase) and was once hit by a truck. He lost a tooth playing tug of war on a rope.
His large size often drew attention as when PB and his brother went sailing with him in their 14 foot Lido sailboat in Santa Barbara Harbor. As the small boat glided past a beautiful 40 foot wooden sloop named "Rejoice", they noticed on her mahogany deck a miniature poodle. For a moment the crews of the two sailboats stared at each other - and the big dog in the little boat, the little dog on the big boat - and then everyone burst out laughing. The Rejoice's skipper called over, "trade you dogs". The response from the Lido was "trade you boats"!
Some time after PB went off to college, Peppi's job was done and he was called back to Sirius - our celestial canine home.
So, you see, following such a legacy, I have a lot to live up to in my job here. I'm honored to be called "the Wonder Dog" by Pandabonium and K. One thing you can count on. No matter what, we dogs will always do our best for our humans and never waiver. It isn't heroic. It's just our job. It's what we do.
Title trivia: PB's family sometimes called Peppi, "Pépé le Moko", which was the title of a 1937 French movie directed by Julien Duvivier. The title character was a Parisian gangster hiding out in Algier's Casbah. The film was remade by Hollywood as "Algiers" staring Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr. Also, the Looney Tunes amorous skunk character Pepe le Pew was based on Boyer's le Moko.