Jack Peyton had two families, but it wasn’t until his death that each began to learn more about the other, thanks to his bulldog Rosebud.
Peyton and Rosebud were a familiar sight to Land Park residents, who observed the pair during their hours-long daily walks in and around William Land Park. Rosebud, an English bulldog, was a people magnet. Peyton invited anyone who wanted to pet her to give her a dog treat, handing them one from the bag of biscuits he always carried with him.
Peyton, 70, died Dec. 26, a little more than a month after he was diagnosed with cancer, said his sister Jeanne Cole of Sacramento. Since then, she, her brother Jim Peyton of Oregon and sister Janet Whitham of Kansas have discovered the extent of their brother’s extended family, as the people he and Rosebud befriended expressed their sense of loss through phone calls and social media.
“We knew he had a lot of friends,” Cole said, “but we didn’t realize how close all of them were.”
Similarly, those who met Peyton through Rosebud said they knew little about Peyton himself, but they miss him.
“It was pretty much a dog-park relationship,” said Susan Hoeffel, who is working to establish a fund to install a Jack Peyton memorial bench in William Land Park.
“Many people saw him every day,” Hoeffel said. “He’d wave and say, ‘Hi.’ You always thought he was happiest to see you and that you were the person Rosebud was happiest to see.”
Gabriel Lopez said he and his Chihuahua accompanied Peyton and Rosebud on a portion of their daily walks for about the past seven years.
“Jack knew everybody and everybody knew Jack. … He was well liked. He was a dog person,” Lopez said.
Peyton walked every day.
“I don’t care if it was raining, cold, wet or foggy, I would look out and see him headed with Rosebud to my house,” Lopez said.
Peyton, who lived near Riverside Boulevard, parked his truck at 11th Avenue and Land Park Drive. From there, Lopez said, they would walk up to Freeport Boulevard, cut through William Land Golf Course, head toward Raley’s, go by Sacramento City College, cut back across the golf course, trek to Fairytale Town, then visit the garden and the two ponds in the park.
“And that was just in the morning,” Lopez said, noting that Peyton and Rosebud returned in the afternoon.
They would stop and sit for a while on benches throughout the park. Whenever Rosebud wanted a treat, Lopez said, she would head toward a bench.
Lopez said he and Peyton enjoyed talking about politics and watching other people in the park. They didn’t talk much about their personal lives, he said, but the two kept in touch until Peyton’s death.
He’d wave and say, ‘Hi.’ You always thought he was happiest to see you and that you were the person Rosebud was happiest to see.
Cole said her brother was a Sacramento native. He graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School and Sacramento City College. He was an Army veteran, who served during the Vietnam War. He went on to work 30 years for the state of California, employed most of that time in administration with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He retired 16 years ago, Cole said.
She said her brother was artistic, but he told her he never wanted to work as an artist because then it wouldn’t be fun. Cole said he drew cartoons during the Vietnam War, featuring characters depicted as helmets with legs. Later, he did computer art.
“He was quite talented and very knowledgeable about all different types of things,” Cole said. Although he wasn’t interested in working on cars, he knew a lot about auto mechanics, and one of his favorite hobbies was N gauge model railroads, she said.
Peyton had two bulldogs as a young man – the first was named Rosebud – but he wasn’t able to spend much time with them while in the service.
He acquired the current Rosebud from a man he met during walks in the park, Cole said. She was about 2 years old and the man had decided not to breed her any longer, so he offered her to Peyton.
“It changed his whole life,” Cole said. Through Rosebud, he developed a family of friends.
Peyton spent his last week at Cole’s home. Rosebud, now 10 years old, seemed to sense that Peyton was ill, Cole said, noting that the dog kept checking on him. Rosebud still looks for Peyton, but she seems to be adjusting to the loss, Cole said.
Cole said her sister and brother-in-law, who have had dogs, will take Rosebud home with them to Kansas. They and Rosebud plan to return to Sacramento in March, when they hope to dedicate the Jack Peyton memorial park bench.