With a lump in my throat, it’s a good time as any to bid farewell to my sweet Ginger girl, who took her last breath in this world yesterday, one day after Father’s day, and one month shy of her 15th birthday.
My parents decided to get Ginger when my sister and I went off to college. I was thrilled. I’ve always wanted a dog but my parents decided against it after seeing my reaction after my parakeets died. I was a sensitive kid, apparently. Anyway, it was 2002 and I was nearby at UCLA, so I eagerly helped my parents compile a Word document (we didn’t have shared docs, kids) titled “Search for Ginger,” with both breeders and rescues, because we already knew that was her name.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw her: a tiny, furry head that perked up curiously when she saw me. The breeder said she was a mischievous one and offered us a discount, so we took her. I held her on my lap, all the way home.
Ginger was primarily my Dad’s little girl; but everyone who knew her, loved her. She represented me and my sister to my parents, and to us, she was our baby and our sister. She saw me come home throughout college– through my fair share of boyfriends that ended in heartbreak, my world travels, life changes, and all the shenanigans in between. Eventually, I moved to San Francisco. Ginger was a bridesmaid for my sister’s wedding, and I can tell she was as excited as all of us were. Ginger sniffed my sister’s tummy expectantly while she was pregnant with each of the girls, and took on the protective big sister role while watching the girls grow up.
Years later, right after I got Barley, I became vegetarian because I could no longer see the difference between the animals I loved and the animals I ate, and I think my love for Ginger played a huge part of my transition. She left an indelible mark on me as the kindest, most loving being I’ve ever had in my life so far, and she awakened in me, a compassion I never knew existed before.
Through the years, I would wake up in the middle of the night, restless and upset, knowing that Ginger might be alone while my parents were on long trips abroad. I even had it in my mind to bring her up to my tiny apartment in San Francisco, but I knew she would hate it here, especially with an annoying younger brother who was very jealous of her. Still, every time I visited, she looked at me with knowing eyes that were so grateful and content that she immediately put my mind at ease.
Last week, my sister told me that Ginger wasn’t eating and had trouble getting up. I urged my Dad to take her to the vet, who gave her some medication to help with her pain. I read somewhere that at some point, dogs give up eating because they know it won’t be necessary. So I knew we were coming to the end, but was afraid that my Dad would have to make a hard decision for her before Father’s Day. That day, I FaceTimed with her and I’d like to think she perked up when she heard me call her name for the last time. I said Goodbye to her then.
Yesterday, the day after Father’s Day, my Dad fed her breakfast for their usual morning routine, and she ate it, thinking that on a bright, sunny day after seeing her favorite person in the world: she was content. She laid herself rest the way she lived– being kind, forgiving, and considerate to us. Problem is, I’m not sure I will ever be as content as she, because there will always be a void in my heart. We will all miss her dearly.