She probably didn’t suspect that the journey she was on would end with her death as she felt the vibration of the truck’s wheels rolling underneath the cab floor where she lay with her chin propped up on an empty Dr. Pepper can, but she certainly had to sense that something drastically different was about to happen. That aside, she just looked up into the face of the man driving the truck.
That man was Chad A Fuqua, at the time the Director of the Hollister Parks Department and his trip that day was to take a homeless female Black Labrador mix from the Hollister Dog Shelter up to Springfield for euthanization because she had exceeded the authorized time at the shelter. Although he had done the same thing on other occasions, this time, as the dog looked into his eyes from the top of the Dr. Pepper can something happened. As he told his mom later “there was just something about her eyes.”
Fuqua turned the truck around, went back to Hollister and adopted “Pepper,” named after the Dr. Pepper can upon which her chin was resting at the time he decided to turn the truck around. As part of his adoption and relationship with Pepper he had her spayed and they shared seven wonderful years of companionship before Chad’s untimely death in 2008.
On the night of his death, as soon as his mother left the hosptial, she went to Chad’s house where she found Pepper curled up on his bed waiting for his master to return. Ever since, Pepper has been living with the mother of the man who saved her from death providing a special comfort to his mother as she deals with the grief of the death of her son.
Although Chad’s rescue of Pepper is poignant; every day hundreds of dogs are euthanized because there is no one to rescue them. The enduring message of Chad and Pepper’s story and the continuing story with Chad’s mother is the celebration of the animal human bond and the positive impact in can have on one’s life. Too, it is a silent plea to take responsible care of your dogs, consider having them spayed or neutered and adopting dogs from local animal shelters to help cut down on their suffering and the number of dogs that have to be euthanized each day.
The effect of Chad rescuing Pepper that day goes beyond just the personal relationship between master and dog. Pepper has a special relationship with the Hollister Parks Department that started while Chad was alive and has continued through today. Pepper routinely participates in various events such as appearing in costume at Hollister’s Founders Day and walking with her master in the Relay for Life Cancer Survivors Walk to mention a couple.
During a recent interview with Vonnie Mathiesen, Hollister’s Assistant City Administrator, Chads mom, and Rob Dixon, the Director of Economic Development it was announced that the city of Hollister is working on a project to build the areas first “Dog Park” to be named the “Pepper Dog Park,” in honor of Pepper.
The park would be on two acres of land that the city of Hollister owns and would provide a safe secure area where area residents and visitors alike could let their dogs run leash free. Dixon describes the park as a quality of life amenity that will cost a little over $5,000 to build. It is anticipated that the funds for the building of the park and its maintenance will come from grants and private contributions and voluntary labor.
Saved from the jaws of death by “A Dr. Pepper Can, a set of loving eyes and a man’s heart,” Pepper has been a constant source of joy to her masters, servant to her community, local icon for responsible pet care, pet adoption and the catalyst for the areas first dog park. One can only wonder how many lives could be positively influenced by the 100s of “Peppers” that are euthanized every day.