Ginger was a tan-colored terrier mix with pointed
ears that bent slightly forward at the tips and a tail
that curled over her back like a corkscrew.  Ginger
was also the first dog that really impacted my life,
became my first best friend, and somehow got me
through those early adolescent years.  

Ginger came into my life shortly after losing Skippy
to distemper.  I remember we all got into that 1950
Ford with the pinstriped seat covers, and Grandpa
took us back to the Detroit Humane Society.  I can
remember the long room with the tiled floors and
cages on both sides of the room.  The silver bars on
the cages seemed so thick, at least to a 3-year-old.  
We looked at the adult dogs first.  I honestly think
that Grandpa and Grandma wanted to get a older dog
who wouldn't need as much training and also not be
at such a high a risk of developing those diseases
that take the lives of young puppies (like Skippy).  
It was Mom who asked to see the puppies again and
my grandparents finally agreed.  The lady at the
shelter took us to another room that had both cages
and big open pens.  There were big puppies and
little puppies, but I can remember walking to the
end of the room.  There in the last cage was a little
puppy all by itself.  The lady said its littermates
were adopted the day before.  To this day I
honestly feel I was attracted to this puppy because
I, too, didn't have any brothers or sisters and not
even any other children in the neighborhood to play
with.  This little puppy was alone, just like me.

We took Ginger home with us that day.  Today I am
a firm believer in crate training a young puppy.  In
those days I don't think that puppies were trained
in crates, or even that the crate as we know it today
even existed 50 years ago.  I don't think my Mom or
my grandparents even had the slightest idea how to
train a young puppy.  To make a long story short,
Ginger spent the first couple of nights sleeping in
the bathtub with big boards across the top to keep
her from getting out.  She had a blanket on one end
and was expected to use the end with the drain as
her bathroom.  I really can't remember if this is
how it turned out.  But I do remember Mom getting
Ginger a little collar with a bell attached to it.  
After a couple of nights in the bathtub, Ginger
learned how to escape from her big "porcelain
crate".  I still remember so plainly sitting in the
living room with Mom and Grandma watching our
first black and white television set, and then we
hear the "tinkle, tinkle, tinkle" of Ginger's bell
collar.  All of a sudden she appeared in the doorway
to the living room with that little corkscrew tail
wagging overtime.  This was the last time she was put
in the bathtub.

Ginger and I grew up together.  She became my best
friend, my protector, and the center of my world.  
She was with me on that first day of kindergarten
right through elementary school.  I would even allow
Grandma to walk me to school just so that Ginger
could walk along.  I would look forward to getting
out of school because I knew Ginger would be there
waiting for me.  After school we would always play
in the backyard together.  I taught her many tricks
and she was a very willing student.  I set up a
regular agility course in the yard with boxes, metal
frames, and anything else I could get my hands on.  
Ginger learned quickly and was always anxious to

In January of 1960 I turned eleven years old.  
Ginger turned eight years old.  My grandfather died
on my eleventh birthday giving me my first real
experience dealing with death.  Ginger was there for
me, helping me get through the loss.  Then in the
Spring of 1960, Ginger lost some of that sparkle she
was well known for.  She began to lose her appetite
and slept a lot.  I remember how she tried to force
herself to play with me, but her heart just wasn't in
it.  Mom finally took her to the vet.  In those days
pet sterilization was uncommon.  Very few pets were
spayed or neutered.  Ginger had developed an
infection that would have never occurred if she had
been spayed.  I could tell by the way the vet was
speaking that it was a very serious situation.  The
only chance she had was a very slim one assuming she
could survive the surgery.

Ginger stayed at the vet's office overnight.  The
surgery was scheduled for the next day.  Mom let me
stay home from school.  I can remember spending the
day mostly in tears, but praying very hard for
Ginger's survival.  It was a very long surgery and
the call came in the early evening hours.  Ginger
didn't make it.  She never woke up.  I was
devastated.  I had just lost my very best friend  --  
the one who was always there for me.  

One very valuable piece of information was obtained
from this experience.  Spaying or neutering a pet at
a younger age can definitely save its life and
eliminate or lessen the risk of certain cancers.  I
only wish that this technology had been available all
those years ago.  It may have given me a few more
quality years with my Ginger.
This is me at age 3 with my first
Ginger.  This little puppy left
pawprints on my heart that are
still there, even today.   
This is me at age 5.  Ginger is 2
years old.   
In this picture I am 7 years old.  
Ginger is 4.   
Ginger at 5 years old (above) and
Ginger playing with our cat

This is Ginger at 8 years of age.  
This picture was taken the month
before she died.