Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Farewell to Gingerbread, Greeter and Sergeant-at-Arms

This is not a post about ballroom dance costumes, but about the loss of the official Made for Movement Greeter and Sergeant-at-Arms, Gingerbread.

Some of you might remember when we got Gingerbread as a puppy, from a rescue shelter in Buffalo Minnesota.  It was during our year in Rogers.  She was a sweet and very energetic ball of fuzz, athletic and wicked smart on her first day with us.  She was always ready for a good game, a ride in the car, or walk to anywhere.

We got her in September, and by December, she had begun to look like a grown up dog, but there was still plenty of puppy mischief.  I will share one story with you.  A few days before Christmas, Zak and I left the house early to run some errands.  We were gone for several hours and the lonely little puppy got bored and decided to have her own holiday party all by herself.  When Zak and I came home, he went ahead of me into the living room.  "Uh-oh," I heard him say.  Ginger had opened at least a dozen gifts, and shredded wrapping paper was knee deep.  I wish we had taken this picture BEFORE we cleaned up the mess.  I think she looks ashamed, don't you?

About this time, people began to comment that she looked a great deal like a trendy breed.  We bought a book about Nova Scotia Duck Tollers, and she certainly appeared to be a pretty good example.  These red, fox-like dogs caper energetically on the shores of lakes, chasing sticks thrown by owners from their hunting blinds.  Ducks descend, drawn hypnotically to the glorious waving flag of a tail, and after the hunter fells his prey, the dog happily retrieves it from the water.  "Tolling" as this activity is called, was in her blood, and sticks were her best friends for life.  She never left the house without one, and was known through out the neighborhood as "the dog that carries the stick with her."

She was never fond of loud noises though, and we wondered she might have been a disappointment to a hunter, and that had been how she ended up at the rescue shelter.

She certainly had the tail and the fun-loving temperament for the job!

By middle age, she was truly a beautiful creature, and might have had a lovely modeling career!
According to the age chart in her breed book, at 16, this year on May 24th, she would have been the canine equivalent of 100 years old.  She had slowed considerably, in the last year, walking less and less far on her walks, and losing her hearing almost entirely, and some of her sight.  The grey on her lovely face began to belie her age as well.

Early in the morning on Wednesday the 10th of April, Ginger suffered a vestibular stroke.  At the clinic we were told there was a chance she could recover, and we brought her home, to try to nurse her back to health.  She was at first only able to drink water from our cupped hands, and finally ate some mashed potato from my fingers.  We tried every food imaginable, meat broth, rice, her dog food mashed, baby food chicken and beef, unbelievably expensive food for sick dogs, $10 a pound low salt deli turkey, bread, crackers, you name it, we gave it a go.  Carl even cooked hamburger for her in water, and although she ate a few bites of this and that, her appetite never returned, and she finally refused to eat anything further.

Believing that starving to death could not be a comfortable process, we called MN Pets (a service I highly recommend) who came to our home.  Ginger was always afraid of the vets office, and we wanted her last moments to be in a safe and familiar place with the people who loved her.  A sedative was administered, which put her into a deep sleep.  Then a drug was administered to stop her heart.

For all of you who have known her enthusiastic greetings at my studio door, I thank you for your kindness to her.  It is very empty and quiet here now, and no one takes me out for my walk each day. I really miss her.