Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Gingerbread Girl



After a very tough week, we had to let our Ginger go.  

Like the famous dog, Marley, Ginger was a clearance puppy.   I worked with the owner of her sire and wanted a puppy but her sire and dam were Field Champions amongst other things and we simply couldn't afford the price they were asking.  

Lucky for us, the owner’s had 1 puppy no one wanted and we got her for a rock bottom bargain that we couldn't refuse.   We picked her up on Thanksgiving Day in 2002.   She was so quiet that I thought that was why she was the only one left.  
That changed the moment we got home.  She turned into one of the rambunctious puppies you see on t.v. commercials for puppy foods!

Truth be told, she never settled down…ever.   (Not even after her injury.)

So much for the “laid back" Lab we thought we were getting!  Instead, we got a high energy pistol that ate frogs and de-tailed every lizard in the yard when not kept busy.

High energy and all, she worked her magic through our household and became everyone’s dog during some time in her life.  She seemed to know who needed her most and would stick closest to them during that time.  She became companion, friend,  playmate, teacher, surrogate  mother,  protector, guardian, yard soldier, slumber party participant, horse (once when I wasn't looking), security guard, and the brawn to back up Mojo’s bark.   

In 2010, she was injured but not a candidate for surgery due to age.  We  slowed her down and put her on medication to keep her pain to a minimum. 

Gradually, she settled into her role as the family's Grand Dam, enjoying simpler things like ear rubs and tummy scratches.  Her days of chasing tennis balls across fields, jogging with Dean and swimming were long over.   

In all fairness, she didn't seem to mind too much.  She still chased bubbles from time to time and she still played "toro" with the towels after her baths.

She still had walks, although they grew shorter each year.   She especially liked the annual walks down the dog treat aisle on her birthday.  We always let her pick her own gift.  




The last 3 months have been hard as her pain was becoming more evident. Even with additional medication, we knew she was declining.    We felt this might be her last year with us but we didn't know “how” we would know when her time with us was up.  
When a dog is injured but otherwise healthy, you know that they will most likely be put to sleep one day and that was a struggle for us.  Too soon and it is akin to murder, too late and you are torturing your pet.   

The vet assured us that she would “tell” us but I wasn't sure I believed him.   Until last week.   She simply stopped eating, stopped thriving, stopped greeting, stopped tail thumping, stopped everything but going outside to use the bathroom.  
When I would come home, she would bounce around to greet me. 
Not this week.  
Instead, I watched her struggle to retain her dignity with the simple act of going to the bathroom, while refusing even the tastiest of treats. The effort to drink was too much and she would rest between sips of water.  
It was too much and broke my heart but it was SO FAST that I couldn't believe it.  I think my head knew and understood but not my heart.

We made one last ditch effort with electrolytes and appetite stimulants to no avail.   The 2 days she remained with us after "telling" us she was ready were terribly difficult.  In retrospect, we did her a disservice.  Trying to keep her with us made her suffer 2 days.  

Always an indoor dog, this morning she went outside at 5:30 am and refused to come back in.   We had decided it best for me to stay busy so I got dressed for work and went out to say goodbye.   She greeted me with a gentle chuff.  I pet and kissed her goodbye and as I turned and left, she did something she never did before.  She chuffed again, her own goodbye.  She was ready.  

Dean went to check on her and still, she refused to come in.   He told our son he was taking her to her last appointment at 8 am.   At exactly 8 am, Ginger came walking up to the patio door.  

Today she went to sleep with Dean by her side.  I was a basket case and my crying made her sad.  When I cried she would turn her head away, only to look at me when I had stopped.  She was telling me that this was her time, not mine and that I needed to grow up and stop being a baby.  I didn't need to be there blubbering while she had been so brave.   She deserved some dignity and a peaceful passing.  She certainly didn't need to be worrying about my high drama.

Ginger, thank you for honoring our family and for loving us so very much.  People always asked us how we trained you so well.  But in reality, we just followed your lead.  

8 comments:

D said...

Sweet Ginger will be missed. Love her

homeschooljewelrymom said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a sweet memorial to an obviously special dog. Our lives are made so much richer for having our furbabies in them.

gin said...

I'm so sad about Ginger. I have tears reading of her last few days. Your words are a sweet tribute to her.

Jenny Sellars said...

Oh honey, I am so sorry! I am in big puddles right now. I hope you find peace!!

Eugenia Maru http://lulurulitos.blogspot.com said...

Ginger está en el cielo de perritos.
Yo perdí a mi "Cuqui" hace más de un mes, y todavía no nos reponemos. Ella sólo tenía 5 meses y tuvo un accidente. Hicimos todo lo posible, pero se fracturó la columna y no había nada qué hacer.
Lloramos mucho y todavía la echamos mucho de menos. Las mascotas son parte de la familia y ella era el bebé que no teníamos.
Me siento triste por Cuqui y por Ginger, pero era su minuto y nada podíamos hacer.
Un abrazo.
Saludos desde Chile
Maru

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Oh Val! Now I'm blubbering! This is the most beautiful tribute I've read to a very loyal and loving canine companion. She was so loved and now is in peace. Big hugs to you all, Tammy

Lynne said...

Ginger sounds like the best dog ever! We seem to be sharing the same sadness this week. You have written a lovely tribute to your gal.
Hugs to your family from mine.
P.S.
I bet Ginger and my Luke are romping around together in doggie heaven!

Denise said...

Sending you virtual hugs. I know you and your family miss your Ginger girl very much. We have a black lab - Calli who is almost 10 and a border collie named Roxy who is 14. They don't move quick anymore and only play for a short time. They are my "girls" and I treasure every day with them. I don't know what I'm going to do when they are no longer in my life. Remember the fun times and love on your other fur babies...thanks for sharing Ginger's story.

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