Last week, my girlfriend and I got a dog. We met at the shelter on Monday after work, “just to look” at the dogs that were up for adoption. I drove home from the shelter on Monday evening with a black and white puppy sleeping in my passenger seat.
We went back and forth for a while that night, trying to find a name for the four-legged menace that we had invited into our lives. We weighed nicknames, as well as how ridiculous each option would sound when she inevitably gets off her leash and we have to call her back to us. A lot of suggestions were tossed out but fell just short of feeling right for our new roommate.
She’s a black and white pit-mystery mix, weighed 17 pounds when we took her home at 10 weeks old, and the size of her paws seem to indicate that she’s got quite a lot of growing left to do. So when the name “Pepper” was brought up, I latched onto it. She was black and white, after all, and it’s cute to name a puppy after a condiment. She can be a little mischievous, so a spice seemed right. My girlfriend and I also happen to be mildly allergic to dogs, but the issue was settled even before I sneezed for the first time and blamed it on “too much Pepper.”
She’s a good dog, and I really do think Pepper suits her for all the reasons listed above. It wasn’t until about a week later that I remembered why the name had seemed like it was already rattling around my head, even before I met my newest roommate.
My mother, as part of an ongoing project of hers to digitize and preserve old photos, stumbled across the image at the top of this post and sent it my way, thinking I may get a chuckle out of it. The picture shows a young man with endless potential standing next to a small child with dimples; a future first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee next to a future part-time writer; Julius Peppers and yours truly, circa the turn of the century.
As I stumbled across this picture once again in the camera roll of my phone, I realized why Pepper had sprung to mind so easily. You see, all roads lead back to Chapel Hill. Everything I do is informed by things I’ve done before, or memories from long ago. There’s nothing new under the sun, I’ve heard, and so there can be little surprise that I subconsciously named the newest member of my small family after one of my favorite Tar Heels from the past.
Turns out, she has large shoes to fill—but she could do worse.