Ginger #3’s Story
Ginger came to live with us in September 1988 when she was 12 weeks old. A friend that I worked with invited me to go on a trip with her to visit her family in Tennessee. We made many stops in the Smoky Mountain area. Toward the end of the trip she decided to visit her sister who lived in a remote area of the mountains. When we arrived, there was a lot of barking to greet us. As it turned out, her sister was a Dachshund breeder.
In her living room was a modified playpen where a litter of puppies was being kept. These pups were 12 weeks old and waiting for either their new owners to pick them up or to be taken to the airport in Knoxville if their new homes were out of the area. All of them had homes except one. I picked her up, held her for a little while, and once again became hooked.
Ginger came home with me. She was named Smoky Mountain Ginger in honor of her birthplace. I didn’t tell anyone at home that I was bringing her. When I got there I put her down in the living room. She started walking around exploring her new surroundings. The kids were walking in and out of the room and never even noticed her. She was exactly the same color as Sandy. I guess no one looked at her that close. What a shock it was when she was finally discovered. I don’t believe her feet touched the floor anymore that night. Everyone wanted to hold her.
Sandy and Samantha accepted her immediately. After her arrival, it was a reincarnation of the Three Musketeers. These three dogs were inseparable. Cancer took Samantha’s life in February of 1989. Sabrina joined us shortly after that, and essentially we had 3 puppies. Sandy was now the oldest, but they were all very close.
When Ginger was 18 months old, we decided to add to our “Wiener Dog” population. Ginger was bred to a small black Doxie named True Grit. The breeder who owned True Grit (AKA TG) said that Ginger was such a light red that we needed to breed her to a black to get deep red pups.
Ginger showed signs of going into labor the morning of January 15, 1990. I stayed home from work to be with her. Jeff had already moved into his own apartment and Shelly and John went to work. It was almost as if Ginger wanted her entire family to be there to witness her blessed event. She just went to sleep and slept most of the day. Every so often she would have a contraction and then go back to sleep. She actually waited until everyone came home that night before having the puppies.
The first pup born was a little girl. The second came about 30 minutes later and was also a girl. Some friends of ours wanted a female, so I was glad we had at least 2 of them. The third pup was a male. At the time I was a little disappointed about that but my disappointment was short-lived. (See Bart’s story next). There was almost a 2-hour wait for the fourth puppy. Sadly, this puppy was stillborn. Ginger seemed to know something was wrong because she just rested her head on the puppy as if to say, “I’m sorry”. The last puppy was born about 30 minutes later. This pup was a very tiny little girl. We named this little runt Tiffany (see previous story) and decided to keep her. Tiffany was a fighter right from the start. She made sure she wasn’t deprived of FOOD. She was very strong but remained very small.
The first two pups went to very good homes. No one seemed interested in our little boy. By the time we started getting calls for him, John said he was already a part of our family and wasn’t going anywhere. So now we had a “Weenie Dog Trio” — Ginger, Tiffany, and Bart (named by John after Bart Simpson from “The Simpsons”, which was just becoming popular about that time.)
Tragedy struck in December of 1992. On December 23 Ginger got up but seemed to be in pain. I took her to the vet that afternoon who said she might have strained something in her back. He gave her a cortisone shot and said to keep her confined. The next day (Christmas Eve) she seemed worse. At this point she was dragging one of her hind legs. I rushed her back to the vet who gave her some pain medication and decided to keep her at the clinic where she would have to stay quiet. I found out too late that she should have been taken to an emergency clinic that day. My vet took a “wait and see what happens” attitude. So Ginger stayed at the clinic on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Saturday, and Sunday before the vet referred her to a specialist on Monday. She was taken to the emergency clinic in Oakland County where there were specialists on staff. They did a mylagram and determined that she had calcified disks that had cut through her spinal cord. If she would have had surgery on the first or even the second day, she might have been spared permanent paralysis.
Now it was decision time. There was really no decision for us to make. Ginger was only 4 ½ years old. She would have the surgery to remove the disks and we would adapt to her paralysis. They told us that she may never really adapt to that kind of paralysis and would need special care.
Ginger remained in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks. During that time I had to attend special classes to learn how to take care of her when she was released. I had to learn how to empty her bladder since she wouldn’t be able to do it herself. I had to learn different physical therapy techniques. And I had to learn how to be patient with her. I loved her so much that the patience part wasn’t even an issue.
To the amazement of the doctors and to us, Ginger almost immediately adapted to her new way of life. She never did go through that period of depression that everyone predicted. On her second day home from the hospital we found her slithering down the two stairs that led to the backyard. Over a period of a month or so she had mastered the art of “seal walking”. She would take her two back legs and flip them over each other. She would then propel herself forward by raising her body and hopping on her two front legs. She would swish the back part of her body around to change direction or pick up speed. Before long she was traveling just as fast on two legs as the other dogs were on four. At one point we considered a cart for her, but in watching how she handled herself we decided against it. When she played with the other dogs, she ran fast and made sudden turns. A cart would have only flipped her over and she would have been helpless. So Ginger enjoyed a very happy life as a two-legged Doxie.
After Tiffany lost her nine-month battle with cancer in July of 2003, Ginger began to slow down at the age of 15. She always had a ravenous appetite but one day I noticed that she was forcing herself to eat only to please me. Even then she only managed to take a few bites. Eventually even boiled chicken or treats didn’t interest her. Various medical tests and even a stomach biopsy were performed but her kidneys were failing and nothing could really be done. On Sunday morning, October 5, 2003, Ginger departed for Rainbow Bridge to be with Tiffany and her other daughter, Schatzee, who had belonged to a friend of ours.
My experiences with Ginger were very much the same as with my first Ginger (see earlier story). Our lives were so very much entwined. By watching her and seeing her determination to live a long and happy life against all odds, I learned that nothing is really impossible. Her disability also taught me patience and unselfish love. Our lives basically revolved entirely around Ginger and her needs. Our hours of work, our vacations, and essentially the basics of everyday living had to be planned with her in mind. She went on every vacation with us and loved it. Vacations will never be the same again without her nose prints all over the car window.
The idea for this Website was born during the last few months of Ginger’s life. I’ve always wanted to share my experiences with my beloved dogs with the people who share my love of animals, but never really knew how to go about it. I have joined the Forever Friends Memorial WebRing in Ginger’s memory and plan to join other WebRings as well. Ginger will never be forgotten.
CLICK BELOW FOR BART’S STORY