Bon Voyage, Ginger

posted June 15, 2016

The hardest part of losing our cat, Tink, a few months ago is feeling how much such a little creature filled up our house. She was only 7 pounds, but snuggled into a chair you couldn’t feel alone with her there. She had gravitas. Tink made our apartment more of a home and Molly and I more of a family. I’m not sure how, I only know that she did and I’m grateful. The same is true of our dog, Tula. She has a presence, honesty, and devotion that grows and humbles me more by the day.

Tula is a Foxhound mix so she has a ton of energy. We make sure she gets plenty of exercise, that she gets to chase squirrels and rabbits, splash around in creeks, gnaw on bones, bark at the FedEx man, destroy toys, and cozy up in a comfy spot to sleep whenever she feels the need or desire. We do this because we love her.

If I’m honest I know there’s another motivation too: I’m completely unworthy of my pet’s devotion.

Others with dogs might know what I mean. My dog adores me. She’s beside herself with joy whenever I come home. I can go out for an hour and she’ll still wag her tail like crazy upon my return. If she’s in another part of the house she’ll run to the door with an expression that seems to say, “Oh my Dog! You came back! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I’m so happy you’re here!”

All of this is on my mind because my father and stepmother’s dog passed away today. Her name was Ginger and she was 16. She was an amazing dog, a little bundle of joyous energy who is already missed. She howled hello to you, she tolerated costumes, she patiently waited and watched for any opportunity to steal food. It didn’t matter if you were human or canine. She was clever. You’d never think for a second she even cared, then the second the smallest crumb hit the ground, Boom! Ginger could snag and eat anything before you even realized what happened.

How many dogs can you chill out on a couch with and share a bowl of popcorn? Okay, probably a lot of dogs, but it was still fun to watch a movie with Ginger.

When I think about Ginger and my cat Tink I know they both lived life better than I ever have. They loved without reservation, and threw themselves into everything they enjoyed (in Tink’s case, with reckless abandon). Maybe their lives are easy and brains are less complex than ours, but I’m no less impressed. A domestic animal lives a life of limitations and dependence, when you think about it, and more so than even human children rely on those who care for them to give them a happy life. I know anyone who knew her would agree Ginger lived to her fullest potential because of my dad and stepmother.

Some people regard their pet as a possession. That makes me sad, for both the animal and the person involved. When you provide the best possible life for a pet you’re the possession. They love you, guard you, play with you, and embody an affection that would make Gollum look like he couldn’t care less about the Ring of Power.

So, this is to you Ginger. You were a wonderful little beast and it was an honor to have known you. Thanks for taking care of my dad and Donna all those years. I don’t believe in heaven, but strangely I think you and Tink are somewhere. Maybe because you both earned it. I shall endeavor to live up to your examples. If I’m lucky we’ll all chase chipmunks together in another couple decades. Save a few for me.

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