Andrew Dys

PEPE LIVES

Addison Johnson, 9, holds her family's chihuahua Pepe whom they thought was dead for two weeks, but was found at an animal hospital.
Addison Johnson, 9, holds her family's chihuahua Pepe whom they thought was dead for two weeks, but was found at an animal hospital.

All dogs loathe me and I don't just dislike them, I'm an ogre. I usually avoid their owners, too, and make fun of them every chance I get.

But Pepe, the 3-year-old Chihuahua dog the size of an overstuffed sausage with the tongue that hangs out permanently after he was mauled three years ago by another Johnson family dog, well Pepe's story might even soften my hard heart.

Maybe.

About a month ago on a Saturday morning, Pepe the dog with no collar because he is an inside dog, got loose. He was owned by little 8-year-old Addison Johnson, her 10-year-old brother Austin, soft-hearted mom Kim. And don't forget tough dad Marvin, who had no use for inside small dogs, but he loves his kids and wife, so he put up with the little dog.

"We tolerated each other," said Marvin, who has a beagle named Durango that is more to his liking. Durango lays around, sleeps, never runs off.

The family looked everywhere for Pepe that day and finally a neighbor flagged them down. The neighbor is a 30-plus year Rock Hill police officer named Lt. Jerry Waldrop. Waldrop told them a guy had stopped and picked up Pepe after Pepe had been hit by a car.

"I thought that little dog was a goner," said Waldrop.

The kids were crestfallen, Kim was a wreck and even Marvin was crying because his kids hurt. Marvin is a dad and husband first and foremost, even when the issue is underfoot little dogs.

"My Pepe," said Addison.

Word got all the way to Wichita, Kan. The best friends of the Johnson parents, and the kids, too, are former Winthrop basketball coach and now Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall and his wife, Lynn. The family sent flowers, and a card.

But Waldrop the trained cop got a description of the car the guy was driving who had stopped to help. Plus, the guy had said he was stopping at a nearby store. A guy in a red Buick with a white beard and white hair.

"Santa Claus," said Austin.

Marvin went to the store and after a few days the guy came back. The clerk who was on the lookout for Marvin got his number. Marvin called the number.

The guy's name was Bryan Shull, truck driver, husband, and man's man.

"I couldn't leave that little dog lying in the road, he was just laying there," Shull said.

Shull thought he might have to put the dog down but Pepe crawled onto his arm in the car that day so Shull took him to Newport Veterinary Hospital.

"Great guy, took the time to take care of somebody else's dog," Marvin said.

"He didn't have to do it," Kim said. "But Mr. Shull did."

Maybe Shull is Santa Claus.

Turns out Pepe had nothing more than a concussion. The workers at Newport took care of Pepe and Marvin showed up and was asked to identify the dog.

"Little, brown, got a tongue hanging out," Marvin said.

Of course, that was Pepe.

Kim got out of the car and cried as she called the dog and he leaped into her arms. Austin cried, too. The family paid the unbelievably tiny bill of $51.18 -- the Newport clinic took great care of them for sure -- and drove to gymnastics class where Addison was practicing. They took in the dog, and now everybody was crying.

Except Marvin.

During the two weeks that the Johnsons thought Pepe had gone to dog heaven, Marvin and Kim bought the kids another Chihuahua. A female named Coco. The size of a big biscuit, about the same golden color, too.

Except biscuits don't mess up the floor.

Coco cost $600.

Pepe and Coco now share the limelight in the Johnson house. Pepe crawls up onto Kim and Marvin's bed to sleep. Marvin grins and bears it.

Even Marvin, and me, have to give it up for Pepe, the dog that won't die.

View a video of Pepe with his family at

WEB EXTRA

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