Rest in peace, my sweet Ginger…

July 20, 2011

Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. We said farewell to our wonderful beagle, Ginger.

It was time. She let us know that. She was 13 years old, and we knew it was coming. I am so glad she made it to see another summer, to remember the feeling of laying in a sunny spot and soaking up the warmth. And she got to come camping one more time, take one more boat ride, enjoy the smell of summer (important to a beagle!) and all it has to offer.

She’s my “once in a lifetime” dog. I found her on the highway the summer before my senior year of high school. Long, funny, sweet story… but let’s just say that it was meant to be.

She’s been an amazing companion over the years. When I would cry she would climb up on me and rest her head on my chest or cheek. She always knew when something was up with me. I’ll always remember when I got my positive pregnancy test (my husband was out of town). I could hear her slow steps up the stairs and down the hallway to check on me. She knew something was up. She’s technically the first one I told! And we sat in the future nursery and she cuddled with me while I cried excited tears, and we plotted the future together. I’m so sad she won’t be there for that next positive test. For those next steps in our lives.

While part of me feels a little guilty that her last year was spent in the shadow of our son, I’m also so glad they got to meet each other. They are both amazing. One of his first words was “Ginger.” He loves to say it, which makes this even harder. He’s been looking around for her, especially this morning (first thing in the morning, he loves waking up and seeing the dogs wake up and excitedly walk around the room, waiting for pees and breakfasts). She loved to snuggle with him, and was so patient with him and his antics, especially for a cranky old woman!

He keeps saying his heartbreakingly adorable, high-pitched “Ging-uh!” While it makes it more difficult, I also love that he says it. I don’t want him to lose that word from his vocabulary. It’s a word I wanted him to know and say often, and it’s sad that it will start to fade. I will keep it going, somehow. We will remember her.

I’ve been through so much with this dog… from high school graduation, to college, to multiple apartments and houses, to our wedding, then pregnancy (she loved to cuddle on the couch with me during those long first trimester days!), and then baby.

I talked to my best friend yesterday morning, who was with me the day we found her, and she joked that Ginger held out for my son’s birthday, which made me laugh. Never one to miss a party, there for every milestone. I like that idea. That she wanted to see him turn one before she left us.

She had a wonderfully peaceful passing. She was outside on a beautiful day, in my lap being kissed while I told her how much I loved her. I’m so glad I was able to do this for her, and be there with her when she left us. While my husband couldn’t be there, my best friend was. It was fitting and how it should have been… she started and ended her life with the two of us.

My heart is just broken. It’s becoming so much more real. It keeps hitting me in waves and the reality, the FINALITY, of it is setting in. Being home is hard, with all of the little reminders around. Expecting to hear her get up for a drink of water. She won’t be jumping around howling at me, trying to convince me to feed them dinner early. I already miss her amazingly soft ears. Her sweet eyes. The way her white-tipped tail wagged. Her sassiness, even in her old age. She was amazing and awesome and I just can’t believe she’s gone.

I can’t stop crying, even now. She’s really gone.

I miss her. It breaks my heart to see our other dog (Kizzy) laying by herself on the big dog bed under the coffee table. They spent most of the day cuddling together. She seems melancholy today. She knows, I think. When I came home from the vet yesterday she was sniffing me like crazy (which she normally wouldn’t do unless I had been with a different dog, but not Ginger), then just laid down. I’m giving her as much love as possible. Cutting her a break. Being more patient. Cuddling more.

I don’t know how to adjust to being a one-dog household. We’ve done things in pairs for so long. We buy 2 toys, 2 beds, 2 crates, 2 types of dog food, put together 2 sets of doggy Christmas presents. We let the dogs out. We feed the dogs. “Honey, do the dogs have water?” I came home from the vet yesterday, and the first thing I see is the sign I made on the front door: “Shhhh… Sleeping Baby and Barking Dogs.” When my husband came home from work, he said it was so weird to only be greeted at the door by Kizzy.

Last night, I didn’t want to go to bed. As morbid and strange as it might sound, yesterday she was alive. I knew when I went to bed, that would change. I’d have to start out a whole day without her. There will never again be a day where she’s here with us. Where I can kiss her cheek or bury my nose in the scruff of her neck. Get her to howl that sweet sweet howl, where she’d sway back and forth.

This morning was really tough. I was hoping it was all a bad dream. Lying in bed, it was like I could pretend she was still just sleeping and would get up any minute. It was so QUIET, with just one dog. Without her pouncing around for her breakfast, or hearing the tap-tap-tap of her claws on the wood floor. Not hearing her snoring the morning away. Not watching her roll around on her back when she wakes up from a nap, making that funny “gator face” and snorting. All those little things, those noisy things… her absence is deafening.

We will keep her memory alive, and she’ll live on in our hearts forever. We’re already laughing about little things she did, even though those thoughts bring on more tears. She was one in a million, irreplaceable… but how lucky I was to have had the chance to know her.

Grant just woke up from his nap and the first thing he did was say her name. It’s heartbreaking. I was “prepared” for this time, but are we really ever? My heart literally aches. My stomach hurts. I don’t feel like eating. I don’t know how to handle the heaviness of these emotions.

Grant helps, of course. I can’t stay in bed crying all day when I have to chase after him. He needs me, and it feels good to hear him giggle and play. Life goes on, somehow.

Ginger, thank you for finding me that day. Thank you for giving me everything you had, and gracing my life with your presence. I promise I won’t be this sad forever, but it’s going to be really hard for me to relearn how to live without you. You’ve helped me get through so much, and I never fully realized what a rock you were to me until now. That’s just a testament to the amazing dog you were, and how much I loved (and continue to love) you. I hope you get to spend eternity sniffing around, snoozing in the sun, eating lots of yummy food without ever getting too fat, and having that spot on your neck itched. I love you, beagle butt. More than you could ever know.

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8 Responses to “Rest in peace, my sweet Ginger…”

  1. Emily said

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you, Kizzy, Grant, and your husband. Ginger was only lucky pup to have found you that day.

    • Thank you so much for responding! We were lucky all around… her lucky that we found her and gave her a second chance, me lucky that she chose me, and all of us lucky that we got to be a family together with her. I guess that’s what makes this so difficult. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat (and right now I wish I could).

  2. (((((())))))) I’m sorry.

  3. That was a wonderful testiment to the life you shared with Ginger. Keep coming back to the petloss support group. They have really helped me manage through our tough loss as well.

  4. […] as a nod to our good girl Ginger, we are doing a walk in September that benefits our local humane society. While we found her on the […]

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