Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dog Day Afternoon

Today was certainly a bittersweet day as my family got together to have one last fun afternoon together with our pet dog, Ginger. Tomorrow, unfortunately, we will all meet at the vet's office to be with Ginger when she is put to sleep.

Over the course of this blog, Ginger has been mentioned a few times and even had her picture posted. Where did it all begin?

Back in about 1990, my wife and I moved to another city as I was able to find a new job with more security and better pay. We had been married two years and did not have any kids, so a companion was needed. We bought a beagle mix and named him Granville -- after former Chicago Bulls center Granville Waiters. Granville was a great dog. If only I had a movie of me chasing him in circles inside our rental house -- me running full steam ahead and Granville just barely keeping ahead of me, his paws slipping and sliding on part of the linoleum floor.

Skip ahead several years and two kids later. Granville was not happy in being replaced from top underling position in the family pack. He growled at our young kids. We even took him to an animal behaviorist to see if we could get things right. Unfortunately, the expert told us that there were no guarantees and implicitly recommended that we get rid of Granville. We were fortunate in finding what seemed to be the perfect situation for him. An older gentleman who lived in the country had recently lost his wife and dog. His sons saw our ad and contacted us. We gave Granville to the gentleman. Unfortunately, my wife misunderstood how I wanted to say goodbye and had the sons leave with Granville before I returned from the grocery store. I was devastated.

We visited Granville once several weeks later. He seemed to be happy living in the country and frankly did not even seem to recognize me. Ah well.

We went several years without a dog (apparently I said "no" every time I was asked), and then about 13 years ago it just seemed like the right time to get a puppy. We picked up Ginger from the local Humane Society. I had actually wanted a different dog from the litter, but Ginger won my wife's heart and was selected instead. That turned out to be a great choice, as Ginger, over the course of her lifetime, proved to be the sweetest dog ever. Everyone who ever came to our house loved her.
Aside from being sweet, Ginger was also sneaky, which actually, I admired. She was not allowed on the couch and loveseat in our family room. Little did I know that my wife and kids would have her on the loveseat when I wasn't home. When Ginger heard the sound of my car when I got home from work, she bolted off the loveseat and went to the door to greet me. I was none the wiser for several years. At night, she would sneak on the loveseat. If for some reason I had to go downstairs in the middle of the night, she would hear me coming, get off the loveseat, and slink away while looking at me as I rushed down the stairs. Her guilty looks led me to feel the loveseat. Hmmm ... warm.

As Ginger got older, we noticed some changes in her. Instead of loving to take walks, she started turning around and returning for home after waking only a block or so. She was losing gobs of hair and drinking tons of water. Several trips, tests, and lots of money later, she was diagnosed with Canine Cushing's disease which, in a sense, prematurely ages dogs. With special vet prescribed (of course) food and several medications, she lived with it for several years. However, things recently took a downswing. The arthritis in her hips got so bad that she didn't want to go outside anymore because of few steps she would need to go up and down to get outside and return. Her hind legs were not cooperating and she couldn't walk most of the time. She had a few seizures. Her appetite decreased and she lost weight. She startled at many sounds and basically was spending her time sleeping and moving from one spot on the carpet to her cool mat. It became pretty obvious what we needed to do.

Our vet thought that Ginger had Cushing's for three years, but Ginger actually had it more like 5 1/2. The vet said she was surprised that Ginger lasted so well so long. But she agreed -- it was time. We are taking her in tomorrow to be put to sleep. It will be heartbreaking for the family.

This afternoon, however, we had a little party with her. We took plenty of pictures, including an updated one of Ginger and the kids.
Ginger was not very cooperative in posing for pictures. However, she did like some of the treats she got, especially a couple of McDoubles and her all-time favorite, deli salami.

It has been said that dogs live just long enough to break your heart. I know that tomorrow will be a cryfest as many tears have already been shed. Once we get past that -- and I do not know how long that will take -- I am sure that we will all be thankful that we were fortunate to have this wonderful pet in our lives -- a regular member of the family that was loved so much and brought so much happiness to us over the years.

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ”     
          -- Roger A. Caras

"The heart was made to be broken."
          -- Oscar Wilde


Blogger ShabazzJenkins said...

Thanks for sharing John.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Mr Subliminal said...

No need to tell you that tomorrow will be extremely difficult for everyone, as will the following few weeks. Oscar Wilde was right.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

She sounds like an amazing dog. Sorry you have to do what you must do.

9:49 PM  
Blogger BrainMc said...

That really sucks. I hate that you guys have to go through this but I appreciate the way you did it.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Jeff in MN

10:45 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Sorry for your loss. Great tribute to your beloved family member.

12:09 AM  
Blogger JT88Keys said...

Sorry your family is going through this. We lost our family dog about 6 months ago and every once in a while I still think I hear her nails clicking on the hardwood in the other room.

1:01 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

The experience of putting Ginger to sleep was horrible. Thank goodness we have an excellent, caring vet who made things much easier for us. It was certainly a family bonding experience as we all loved Ginger so much. I just feel kind of empty right now. *sigh*

2:24 PM  
Blogger angerisagift said...

Attica Attica

10:28 PM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Hey - I've been on vacation all week and had sporadic internet, so sorry I'm late to expressing my condolences. It's not easy to lose the family pet. I'm sorry to hear about your dog.

9:48 AM  

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