This is Pepper.

I adopted her on 17th April 2021, when she was 8 months old.

She’s an Irish Wolfhound cross.

I know nothing of her history except that she was rescued from a rural pound and was most likely a stray. She was skinny and timid, and as if growing up without a loving home wasn’t bad enough, she also ended up with parvovirus, due to an outbreak in the pound where she was held. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was rescued and vaccinated just days before developing symptoms, she probably would not have survived.

It had been many years since my last beloved dog died, and I’d thought for a long time about adopting another one.

There were always lingering doubts about whether I could afford to care for another dog and of course, many questions about how a dog would fit in with my plans for life on the road.

But when I saw this photo of her on the rescue shelter’s adoption page, I fell in love with those beautiful sad eyes and I knew in my heart that I had to be the one to give this pup a better life. I didn’t know whether she would embrace bus life, but I remember thinking that I would be willing to put my bus life dream on hold for her, and that’s when I knew it was time.

At first she was very quiet, but she soon started to relax and settle in to her new home, and her true personality started to show. And what a personality it is!

She loves to play, but has clearly never been taught how to play gently. She jumps, she bites, she chases ANYTHING that moves, and is quick to tell you when she doesn’t want to do what you’ve asked.

All my previous dogs had been easy to train and I was used to dogs that responded to my tone of voice and a firm “NO” if I needed to correct their behaviour. But Pepper was different. If I scolded her, she would retaliate and growl back at me. If I tried to pull her away from something she would lunge at me and grab the lead. She freaked out if I put any pressure on her collar.

I had to learn a whole new way to interact with and train a dog and I was way out of my depth.

In that first year, I was covered in bruises and scratches, and shed many tears of despair. I have to admit, there were many times when I questioned why I adopted her.

But I could see her gentle side and the more time we spent together, the stronger the bond grew between us. I am teaching her impulse control and she is teaching me patience.

Now, a few years later, she is so much more settled and a lot less reactive. She listens and responds to me.

We still have a lot to work on, but she is growing up to be an amazing dog and I’m glad she has become part of my journey.