It was about twelve years ago when I adopted a malnourished runt of a Doberman puppy and brought her home from the animal shelter. After a couple of years in a new house I got the green light from my wife to get a dog. I wanted a Doberman. The animal shelter had a process where you could put in a preference for the breed you wanted and they would notify you when one was available. I waited about a month before a skinny Doberman photo was emailed to me. I went to the shelter and found her on “death row.” Her cage was between two vicious pit bulls with signs that read “not for adoption”. They were barking and jumping as I approached. She was laying on the cool floor between them looking like it was the end of the world.
I knelt down in front of her stall and looked her in the face. Hoping she wouldn’t take my fingers off, I reached under the door and petting her nose. She didn’t. She licked my hand for the first time. I told her right then, I was going to get her out of there.
It took almost a month before I actually got her. I had to schedule an appointment for the family to meet her first. I had to bring my household to the shelter. My family didn’t grow up around dogs so the smells and sounds of the shelter didn’t help my cause. They agreed though because “dad” wanted this dog.
The day I picked up the scrawny reddish brown Doberman was a happy day. The attendant brought her into the waiting room after I paid the fees and “Ginger” jumped into my lap before I could stand from the waiting room chair. It was like she was at doggy daycare waiting for me to pick her up. The scene was perfect. Everyone in the shelter that saw it went “aww” in chorus.
I got her spayed and brought her home. A life time of suffering with allergies made the short haired breed appealing. This was not the feared breed in my youth. My family warmed up to her. I outgrew my allergies. When at home we were together we were. When my wife came near us, she would move closer or put a paw on me as to claim her property. My wife called her my “side chick”.
When I lost my job, she was comforting. When I didn’t want conversation with anyone but didn’t want to be alone she was there. She had her ways. She didn’t like bathrooms or vacuum cleaners. I guessed she was abused and locked up in a bathroom before we got her. She loved to ride in my car. This dog however was a love bug. She was not scary to anyone who knew her. She was my constant companion in my podcast studio. She did everything you don’t want or need in a confined room made for recording and editing other peoples podcast. She groomed herself often. She bit nails. She groaned. She was flatulent no matter what I fed her.
The past few months I watched Ginger slow down. Some mornings she seemed as if she had trouble walking. Like me she had a mole near her eye. We began to look like each other. She never got as big as some other Dobermans I have seen. She slowly stopped eating as much as before. The foxes in the neighborhood were starting to get as much food as she was before I chased them out of the yard. I noticed a tumor growing under her, and her struggling to move more. She got a nosebleed last week and I knew something was amiss. She was thin like the day we had met. I took her to the veterinarian and waiting for what I knew was coming from his diagnoses. I rubbed her cheek and she licked my hand the way she had the first day. The doctor confirmed that a cancer was progressing in her system and I allowed the vet “put her to sleep” before it got worse for both of us. It was a first for me. It was sad.
Ginger helped me de-stress. She gave me an excuse to leave the party early. She gave me a reason to walk the neighborhood. She claimed me, when nobody else did. She made me smile. She was a example of what you can get from the animal shelter near you. A four legged friend bar none. My podcasting puppy. My side chick. My best dog friend.
When I called my son to tell him the bad news, it broke my heart again. It hurt me to post about it on Facebook. It hurt to tell my mother and friends at work. I am not in a hurry to get another dog. There will never be another Ginger but the memories of my Old Puppy are stronger than the pain of losing her. I am glad she didn’t suffer, and for the time we had together.
One day I hope you realize there isn’t any extra time to do the things you always wanted. Live today and appreciate what you have.