By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Aug. 3, 2012
There are many ways in which Alan and Angela Carrigan’s life was touched by Peppy, a miniature pinscher the couple adopted from Vancouver dog pound.
He brought them joy, confusion, and finally anxiety and fear for their safety.
Peppy was aggressive when the Carrigans adopted him. In three years, the aggression increased to the point where he ate his own paw, and had to be put down.
Angela Carrigan is still feeling her way through guilt and a loneliness that comes with the decision to put down a pet that is part of the family.
Photos of Peppy staring innocently at the camera adorn the wall and fridge of the Carrigan home. Conjoined with the picture is a poem Angela found on the web, a mournful dirge that expresses a hope to meet again.
Peppy’s story, Angela Carrigan says, is instructive for those who might be thinking of adopting a pet.
When Alan and Angela moved to Squamish, they decided to get a dog.
An online search revealed a number of pets waiting to be adopted at the Vancouver dog pound.
They were warned at the very outset that the dog they were adopting could be aggressive towards people, especially males. The dog pound believes Peppy was abused.
Angela, who grew up on a farm in Alberta surrounded by animals, was comfortable with bringing Peppy home.
“He seemed fine to us,” she said.
For a while, he was their ‘little buddy’, but soon his aggression surfaced.
Peppy was territorial, unpredictable, and hostile to visitors.
He adjust to a life with the Carrigans, but he was aggressive with visitores, lunging at guests, and even biting one of the family friends.
The Carrigans stopped taking him out for walks. They even stopped inviting people over.
“We didn’t even realise our life had changed so much,” Angela says.
They were advised by friends and families to put him down, but the Carrigans loved Peppy too much to let him go.
They read books, watched Cesar Milan, and browsed through the web to find a solution to his aggression.
Angela said they enquired after a personal trainer, but realised they couldn’t afford one.
One day, Peppy bit Angela on the eye, and they had to rush to Vancouver, where the doctor said she could have lost her eye.
“I thought this is it, I’m getting rid of the dog, but when I came back and looked at him, I couldn’t…” Angela said, her voice trailing off.
She contacted Valley Calderoni from Canine Valley Re-education and Adventure Centre (CVRAC), who tried to help the dog becalm itself, but it was too late.
One day, Peppy injured himself on the paw. Angela discovered to her horror later that he was eating his own paw.
“He had ripped his whole paw off, he was trying to get rid of the pain,” Angela said, tears streaming down her face as the scene replayed in her mind.
Two weeks ago, he was put down.
This tragedy could have been avoided if knowledge and support had been provided for the adopter, said Valley Calderoni.
“Angela and Peppy both suffered unnecessary,” said Calderoni.
If and when they get a new dog, Angela Carrigan says she will ensure she understand the dog, and any underlying issues the pet might have.
“That is a suggestion to those who want to adopt pets, do you research and meet a trainer early if there are problems,” she said.