My Pet Story: Ginger, the spice in my life

Ginger having a rest. Photo: Maniraja Annamalai


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My beloved Ginger, a female Golden Retriever, came into my life unexpectedly about nine years ago. I named her Ginger because of the colour of her coat.

At that time, my two nephews were staying with me and my dad. We already had three dogs: Castelo; Chocolate, a mixed breed; and Candy a Shih Tzu which had been rescued by my younger nephew.

As he loved dogs, I always reminded him that having pets is a big responsibility. Having three dogs was already very taxing.

But somehow my younger nephew managed to persuade me to accept another dog as a neighbour wanted to sell his dog cheaply because he couldn’t care for it. That’s how Ginger came into my life.

For the first three years, it was my nephew’s responsibility to care for her as that was the condition I stipulated when he wanted to keep her. But when my nephew went away to further his studies, I took her under my care and started to spend more time with her. She became my buddy, my companion.

Her intelligence never failed to amaze me. For instance, I tried “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan’s method to walk her – without the leash. To my amazement, after a few times, she would walk on the left side of the road and stop whenever a vehicle passed by.

I also trained her to wait if I started a conversation with someone. Once, I received a call from my friend. While talking to him I wanted to walk Ginger as it looked like it was going to rain. But she just sat still and wouldn’t move. Then I told my friend I would call him again later.

Once I disconnected the phone, she stood up and began to walk. It struck me then that she was doing what she had been told: To sit and stay when I was having a conversation.

Ginger had this graceful way of walking. I would always tell my friends it’s “diva time”, meaning walk time. All my neighbours who lived along our walking route knew her. They would greet her by name, and she would respond by wagging her tail.

She was also a very protective dog. As my house is in a kampung, we would get unwelcome visitors.

One hot evening, Ginger was barking non-stop at the shoe cabinet. I realised something was amiss, and then I saw the snake! It was coiled up in the cabinet. I had no choice but to dispose of it.

The whole night, Ginger did not sleep but kept walking to the garbage bin and to me to make sure I was safe from the snake.

I started to enjoy my life with Ginger (and the other dogs too). I always looked forward to seeing them after work. Feeding and spending time with them in the evenings made my day complete.

In March 2021, during the first movement control order, Ginger had a fall during her weekly bath. She was limping and did not eat much. I was so worried but couldn’t take her to the vet because of the MCO. I tried to massage her and use some traditional medication as recommended by my friends. She got better.

Once the clinics were opened, I brought her to a vet and got her checked thoroughly. The vet said she had bad hips and suggested a few exercises. He also suggested that I force-feed her if she refused to eat. I tried all that and it worked.

Ginger was back to her normal self, till late March this year. Again, she refused to eat. So I thought it was the same problem as before and force-fed her.

After a few days, as I was feeding her, she vomited. We made a trip to the vet. The results of the blood test and scanning were not good. Her liver and kidney were in bad shape.

The doctor said he needed to do a blood transfusion to save her. He asked if I was ready for it because the cost would be high. I agreed without any second thoughts, for all the happiness she had given me throughout the years.

The vet said they needed to find a big dog to donate blood to Ginger as she was big too. She was warded that evening. She was put on drips so that she could gain some energy. Before I left, I patted her and spent some time with her.

As I was leaving, she turned to look at me with doleful eyes. I didn’t realise it would be my last time seeing her alive.

The next morning I was at work when I received a call from the clinic. The vet said, “Sorry, Mr Raja... Ginger is no more.” I couldn’t hold back my tears... I told my boss a good friend had passed away.

In the car, tears kept flowing when I called a dear friend with whom I always shared about my experiences with Ginger.

When I reached the clinic, the vet said she looked as if she was sleeping and still smelled good. I thanked the staff and drove home with the body. In the car, I told the motionless Ginger how she had spiced up my life. I thanked her and bid her farewell.

The spice in my life is now resting eternally at the back of my house. A beautiful soul.

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Pets , family pets , dogs , dog behaviour , dog health


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