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Scarlet’s Story

A Tribute to Pipher’s Wildwood Scarlet

by Dawn Hertzog


What is a Pipher’s Wildwood Scarlet, you say?

Well, the name definitely does not mean much, unless you would have had the pleasure of meeting her.
Yes, I said her.

Pipher’s Wildwood Scarlet was a beautiful, female, red brushcoat, Chinese Shar-Pei. Scarlet was born in New York in May 1986. Her mother was red and her father was cream colored. Yes, they do come in a variety of colors.

Scarlet had one of the prettiest, dark red coats I had ever seen. It was a rich mahogany color, which is not at all that common in Shar-Pei, but a very desired color among breeders. She was a beauty and her personality was sweet and gentle, which blended nicely with her good looks.

Scarlet lived with a breeder in New York for the first two years of her life. While living in New York, she produced one litter of puppies. I was told she was a very good mother, which does not surprise me at all. Her gentleness and soft, kind eyes were two attributes I noticed when I met her.

Scarlet was adopted by a man who brought her to his home in Lancaster County in 1988. No more big city living for this little lady, she was now going to become a “country gal”. That was fine with Scarlet, and she started to adjust quickly to her new surroundings. It looked like things would be fine. Fine that is, if her master would have been able to share time with her, enjoying the country air and great outdoors.

It did not take Scarlet long to realize that life in a small town could be quite lonely, since her master was away on business trips most of the time. Scarlet’s long days and lonely nights in a basement were brightened only by a short visit from a kind person who gave her a daily meal. Her brief trips outdoors were not what she imagined her country life would be.

Unfortunately, as often happens, puppies are sometimes adopted by people who give no consideration to the responsibilities involved in raising a puppy. They look at an adorable, wrinkled puppy, fall in love with it, and make an impulsive, yet misguided decision to adopt. In this case, the beauty and charm of lovely Scarlet plucked at the man’s heartstrings, but failed to touch upon his usual wealth of common sense and good judgement.

In time, her new owner finally came to his senses and knew this was not fair to the sweet little lady who waited patiently for his return, always greeting him with her wagging tail and the slurps of her black tongue. Yes, black tongue (another characteristic of the Shar-Pei). Scarlet’s new owner finally realized that she needed a loving family who could spend time with her and give her care and attention she so rightfully deserved.

Her owner called a local organization called ORCA (Organization for the Responsible Care of Animals) to see if they might have the kind of home she would most enjoy. Unfortunately, he not only wanted to find a good home for her, he also wanted to retrieve some of the money on the initial purchase. Goodbye heart strings, hello purse strings. Since ORCA works on a contribution basis, they could not help him out.

Fortunately, luck was with the little lady. One of the volunteers at ORCA heard of his dilemma, and called her mother who is a lover of Shar-Pei and has great respect for the breed. Her mother already had a male Shar-Pei, but after hearing about Scarlet, she became concerned about her and decided to pay her a visit. Just a visit, of course, to see what could be done for Scarlet.

The woman and her husband followed the carefully drawn map to the new owner’s home. To their dismay, they found the elegant Shar-Pei tied in a very undignified manner to a barn door. The only attention she was getting was from a swarm of horse flies and occasional glares from a few of the farm cats.

Scarlet started plucking at those heart strings again, but this time to the woman and her husband.
Remember, they just wanted to look at her. Scarlet, however, had other ideas.

Well, as you may have guessed by now, the woman who went to Scarlet’s rescue was me.

I was broken-hearted to see this beautiful little lady with the soft, kind eyes tied this way. Since she was tied, she was defenseless from the attacks of the farm cats and displayed several nasty looking gashes on her head. I offered my hand and she licked it gently, while she looked up at me with soft watery eyes. Yes, I said watery.
Unfortunately, she was also suffering from entropion.

Although suffering from these maladies, she still was able to wag her tail to let us know she was pleased with our visit and very happy to meet us.

Needless to say, our return home was a very somber one. My husband sat quietly behind the wheel, weaving in and out of traffic, and I sat in the back seat staring out the window, thinking about what I had just witnessed. I was drawn back to reality by a cold wet nose that was nuzzling my arm. You guessed it. Scarlet was occupying the back seat with me, a little nervous, yet behaving like the fine lady she was.

Now I’ll give you a brief summary of what happened over the next two months. She was introduced to our male Shar-Pei, who was quite hesitant at first about accepting a possible rival. Within a few days he started to enjoy her company and began to accept her as part of the family.

After a few days in her new home, Scarlet was whisked off to our vet for her first visit. She was given the standard health exam and then surgery for the entropion. The operation was a success and she was able to see and appreciate all the beautiful things that were in her new world.

We began taking our special little walks in the evening. Just the two of us, in order to get to know one another and create that bond that is so special between two friends. She would happily bounce along beside me, holding her head up in the air, proudly sporting her new facelift. Everything was fine with her and her new life.

As you recall, I had mentioned earlier that she already had one litter of puppies, but I decided to have her hips x-rayed anyway. Why x-ray the hips, you say?

Well, a hip x-ray is taken to look for hip dysplasia which is a very painful disease that can be crippling and is also hereditary. Any breed, not just Shar-Pei, showing signs of dysplasia in an x-ray should never be breed. Unfortunately, Scarlet had a “very bad case” of dysplasia. Oh, well, no problem. We wanted to make her life as enjoyable as possible, and we would not do anything to jeopardize her health or future puppies, so we scheduled an appointment to spay her.

Within several weeks, Scarlet was off to the vet again once again. She trotted ahead of me, wagging her tail to the assistants and acting her usual friendly self. I watched her go through the door with the assistant, tail wagging, totally enjoying the attention she was getting. I drove to work hopeful that all would go well and I could bring her home the next day. I was informed later in the day that the patient was doing fine, resting comfortably and would be able to return home the next day.

My husband and I looked forward to the following day with great anticipation. In fact, we were so anxious to get her back home again that my husband picked her up on his lunch break instead of waiting until evening. The afternoon hours crept slowly by. While I worked at the office, my thoughts kept drifting to Scarlet and how I was going to give her the royal treatment during her recuperative period. After all, a beautiful, sweet lady such as Scarlet deserved the best and was going to receive the best from now on.

The work day was finally over and I excitedly made the drive home. As I entered the house, I quietly began calling her name, but there was no little snorting sounds of happiness to be heard. The house was too quiet. All I heard was Beijing, our male Shar-Pei, softly whining.

I will never forget that sight as long as I live. My feelings of happiness and joy were suddenly shattered as I stood staring at my beautiful, little Scarlet, who lay motionless on her bed. One of the most dreaded of all maladies had attacked her – bloat. Bloat is a build-up of gases in the stomach. This life-threatening condition requires immediate veterinary help. But it was too late. Scarlet was gone and I was totally devistated.

My only consolation in this very sad experience is that I know, even though her first two years of life were not the best, she had in the two short months with us experienced the love and attention she so rightfully deserved. I wanted to give her the best and do what I thought was right for her. Unfortunately, I lost her anyway.

My dear Scarlet. No more tail wagging. No more licks of her soft, black tongue. No more special little walks. It was a very painful experience, and one I will never forget. I can’t turn back time and change what happened. I can only look ahead and offer my help again to those Shar-Pei who could be just like Scarlet, looking for a loving home. Therefore, I have written this in her memory, in hopes I can inspire other fellow Shar-Pei lovers to always be on the lookout for those unfortunate ones who need a caring home.

Scarlet deserved the best and we gave her the best. We buried her in the local pet cemetery and the inscription on her bronze memorial reads –

We had but a brief time together
Dawn and George Hertzog
My hope is this story has touched your heart, for that is what it was intended to do. If the opportunity arises, I encourage those of you who have the pleasurable experience of befriending a Shar-Pei to consider doing what I have done. Believe me, it is a very rewarding experience. The rewards far outweigh any temporary inconvenience that might occur.

Yes, we did have “But a brief time together” but it was a beautiful, memorable time that will never be forgotten.

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