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September 29, 2005

On Christmas morning 1991, Emily, then 1 year old,
received a beautiful bouncing baby Dalmatian named Pebbles. Pebbles was
the sweet one of the litter, Kristine’s favorite. We lived in an
apartment in Atlanta, Georgia for her initial housebreaking. In February
of 1992, we moved to George Michael’s grooms quarters in his barn
in Comus, Maryland. (of George Michael’s Sports Machine). I was
training to make the USA Olympic Team and was fortunate enough to be able
to live on a few miles from the Dickerson whitewater course, which was
one of the first artificial courses. Pebbles and her masters were, perhaps,
a little bit of renegades. We snuck her into the whitewater course, hiding
her under blankets in the back seat, and never put her on a lease. Even
in 1991 at the Champion International Whitewater Slalom Races at South
Bend Indiana, where Champion paper put us up at the downtown Marriot,
we took her there. I remember putting her in a big duffle bag and walking
right through the lobby and up the glass elevators that overlooked the
busy atrium. One morning, we were having breakfast with the John Hildenbiddle
of Champion, and people were looking up and pointing at Pebbles, who was
standing up against the glass windows in our room and barking at us to
come get her.

Pebbles had some kind of accident while we were out
at Comus. She came back from her daily morning walks (on her own) with
her rear left foot pad cut nearly off. It looked like she got stuck in
barbed wire or a trap. The vet sewed it back on, but it didn’t take.
The next 7 years she limped on that leg when she was conscience of it,
but it never slowed her down for running or chasing and catching squirrels.

Eventually we moved to 8700 McArthur Blvd in Bethesda,
near Great Falls, she was then 3 years old. I was doing my “Mega
Plan” training which was to run 4 days per week, bike, lift weights,
and paddle 10 times per week in flatwater sprint boats, wildwater boats,
and of course, my slalom boat. Pebbles trained with me each time. She
ran, she swam across the feeder canal (or road on my boat) and hung out
for the workout, she ran for 10 miles or more each day with me on a bike
or on foot. She even came to the weight room in the church at Brookmont
while I lifted sometimes. She was also known to disappear for a day or
so and return or have me find her tied up at a neighbors house who thought
they should keep her until somebody came. Pebbles took up big game hunting
at this house. In fact, Emily’s first memory was that of Pebbles
playing with a deer in the back yard until it went to sleep. After a week
of asking us what is with the deer still laying there and us saying it
is sleeping, Emily, age 2, turned to us and said, “The deer is dead.”
That is her first memory. Only two weeks later, I heard a racket at the
creek and went down to see what was up and it was Pebbles and our neighbors
dog taking a deer down in the creek. It seemed cool then, but for the
next few weeks of rolling in it, not so cool.

On Christmas morning 1994, Santa brought our little
baby Dane another Dalmatian named Target. Pebbles and Target became best
friends right away, with Pebbles telling Target what’s up, of course.
The next two years things were all fine until one day, now living in Brookmont,
MD, we went to play on the frozen canal. Emily and I ran across the canal
and Pebbles came flying off the two path and jumped on the canal at full
throttle. Her front legs went one way and her back legs the other; twisting
her in half. She slid across the ice and crashed into the other shore
and didn’t move. After a couple of minutes I got her on her feet
and within a few days she was almost normal. However, she had back problems
since then that got progressively worse, and last night killed her.

In 1997 the Jackson’s moved into an RV full time.
This was Pebble’s element. She was truly happy in the RV at all
times. A small manageable den to protect, new places, new dogs, tons of
freedom, and only her family. The crazy thing was that she knew where
we were before we got there, once she had been there before. The places
that Pebbles would whine and get all excited about, 5 miles before we
arrived were: Little Grandma’s house (Leetonia, Ohio), the Ottawa,
Brookmont, Great Falls, Salida, Durango, the Gauley, the Chili Bar put
in on the American, The Ocoee put in, NOC, home at Rock Island, and Hood
River. She knew where we were going and knew life was going to be great.

Here in Tennessee, our local vet took it upon himself
to dig around in Pebbles foot that she limped on and didn’t find
anything, but miraculously after 10 years of limping, she stopped and
walked comfortably on that leg, cool!

One of the scariest incidents with Pebbles was when
we went to the Moose Fest in 2001, and followed someone from the Moose
to the Black in NY. We got to the Black and I paddled at Hole Brothers,
while Kristine did school with the kids (they weren’t paddling yet).
Kristine asked me where Pebbles was. She thought she was with me, and
I thought she was with her. We road our bikes around for two days looking
for her, getting the idea that she was stolen. A fellow paddler mentioned
how he accidentally left his dog at the put in once and Kristine started
thinking. Another friend, Eric, told Emily that he saw a Dalmatian walking
around on a small road three hours away. We didn’t think it was
her. Finally, Kristine deducted that perhaps Pebbles got out when we stopped
to talk to the guy we were following on that road. We called ever pound
and humane society we could find until we found one with a Dalmatian in
that county (three hours away). We got lucky to find that it was Pebbles,
and that we got there just ahead of someone who was going to adopt her.

In the last couple of years, after she turned 11, age
started catching up to her. She started getting a little grumpy with kids,
just letting them know to give her some space (never biting anyone of
course). While she slowed down a lot in the last year, she still loved
to romp around and smiled every morning. Her morning ritual was to climb
into bed in the morning (we had to help her this last year) and go crazy
rolling around and playing with you before you got up. Emily had a special
relationship with her. While I managed to scare her a little from my discipline
as a puppy (they never forget), She was totally at ease with Emily and
slept with her more often than not. Emily was a baby when we got Pebbles,
and Dane wasn’t even born yet. She has been part of the family since
the Jackson’s were a family.

Yesterday Pebbles wouldn’t eat, and was shaking
from pain. We took her to our vet and he kept her overnight. Her backbone
was so heavily built up with calcium that it snapped and paralyzed her,
and she didn’t make it through the night. Only one time did we ever
have to help her go outside or anything like that. She was independent
and her enjoyment of life was a constant reminder to the whole family,
how we are supposed to live. We should be excited to see those we care
about, excited to be alive, and always try to have fun when fun can be
had, and certainly never forget that relaxation is something you can do
at any time. Just plop down, close your eyes, amid anything, and relax,
because, life is too short to not live it to its fullest. All of these
things could be learned from Pebbles.

Mario and I dug her grave in our field, on the side
of a hill, in a beautiful spot. We buried her this morning, placing rocks
on the grave to mark it. There is no way we can imagine her being a happier
dog, she was a lucky dog. However, none of us could keep the tears from
our faces, knowing that we will never get to enjoy her company again,
except in our memories.

Good bye old friend,

EJ 🙂




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Pebbles waiting for Dane to finish School

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Pebbles- October 91-September 2005