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Danny O’Neil says goodbye to Peach, the Shar-Pei who lived in the now

Peach the Shar-Pei. (Photo provided by Danny O'Neil)

I’m not sure what I’ll do with pizza crusts now.

For the past seven months, our dog Peach took care of them for us. She was insistent about it, and it was doctor recommended, actually. Our vet suggested it as one way she might regain weight after her kidneys failed last March.

So every Tuesday we’d order three pizzas. One for the doormen in our New York high rise, a cheese pizza for Sharon, my more significant other, and a sausage and pepperoni for me. All the crusts went to Peach. She’d bark when the intercom rang and briskly trot back and forth in our apartment until I came back carrying two boxes at shoulder height. It was her favorite day of the week.

Then again, I don’t know if there were any days she didn’t like. That’s what’s so great about dogs, man. They live in the now.

We lost Peach this Tuesday. The vet suspected she had lymphoma last week, and added to her kidney problems, things escalated fast. She was put to sleep just before noon, and true to her nature, she was fighting it up until the very end.

You don’t make it as far as Peach did without some serious starch, though. She came here from South Korea in 2013 with poor eyesight and a heartworm infection. They treat that with arsenic, which is just brutal as it sounds. She was given enough poison to kill the parasite, but not so much it killed the host. She spent most of her first two months in the United States in our bathroom so she wouldn’t move too much. The vet feared activity might trigger a heart attack so the local Shar-Pei rescue asked if we’d provide temporary accommodations.

We weren’t expecting to adopt her. We had recently lost our own dog, another Shar-Pei named Tia, and didn’t think we were ready. Peach showed us we were. Or at least she showed me. She was so small, so sweet. Little did we know that’s because she was sick.

Once healthy, she was feisty and she was stubborn. Move her food bowl – even if it was empty – and she’d scramble so fast her nails slid on the flooring, barking for you to back off. She didn’t like people moving the stuffed squirrel that she liked to carry around in her mouth, either, and while she’d let you scratch her neck and ears, she wasn’t real big on being petted. She absolutely did not cuddle.

We called her the first-date dog. You didn’t know what you were getting into until the relationship was going, but who am I kidding? I loved how defensive she became of me while Sharon and Peach became not adversaries necessarily, but antagonists.

Sharon liked to poke Peach with her toes. Peach would bark when Sharon walked by. Sharon would pinch Peach’s arm pits. The past couple of months, Peach would growl when Sharon asked, “Who’s a sweet girl?” Sharon and I decided not to have children, but Peach was closer to a third member of the household than she ever was to being baby. We still laugh about the time that Sharon kneeled down to plug in the Christmas tree, and Peach nipped at her heel, which was exposed by Sharon’s slippers. The best defense to toe pinches? A good offense.

Her quirks were endearing. She preferred cabbage to dog treats and also liked apples, and over the past six months – as we sought to keep her weight up despite a low-protein diet – she feasted on biscuits, pancakes and pizza crust.

You know when you get a dog, it’s not forever. That’s just part of the deal, and I believe that we gave Peach a great life. I hope we did. I know how much better she made my life over these past eight years. I changed jobs in that time. I kicked a drinking problem. I also lost my mother. And through all of that, Peach was unwavering. She was always excited when I came home, forever willing to go on a walk or content to just take a nap in the same room.

We moved to New York just over a year ago, and for the past seven months, Peach has been a social lifeline in this city that has buttoned itself up. She was the most consistent source of conversation in a city where I still don’t know anyone. I get energy from being around and talking to people, and that’s something we’re not doing much these days. Peach was the perfect icebreaker, and I loved how excited people got to see this snorting dog that resembled a hippo.

And now? Well, right now I don’t feel much like talking because it’s a Tuesday night and there’s no one to eat the pizza crust.

Danny O’Neil is co-host of Danny and Gallant on 710 ESPN Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @dannyoneil.

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