Saturday, July 11, 2009


In the years that I ran the animal rescue, I placed over 250 dogs. I would love to say they all went to wonderful homes, but that wasn't always the case. You try the best you can and while I always followed up on the adoptions, a few fell through the cracks, much like our child services organizations. One such case was Ginger.

Ginger was a street dog when I found her. She was making a living raiding garbage cans and annoying the town residents. I often worked with the Humane Society and was told about this stray dog. Every time they went to pick her up, she vanished. She evidently knew their trucks. The director, who was a good friend, asked me to try to catch her as the neighbors were threatening to cause her harm with vague threats of poisoning. Illegal but unprovable. It is hard to trace hamburger.

She was a small Sheltie mix with a very dirty and matted coat. There was nothing pretty about Ginger. I saw her cruising McDonald's parking lot, bought a cheese burger and caught her with no problem. My vehicle fooled her. I dropped her off at the vets for exam, bath and hair cut.

When I picked her up in the evening, I didn't recognize her. They had to shave her almost to the skin due to the mats. God had given her a lot of hair for a reason, she had an ugly body.

Ginger fit right in at the shelter and she adopted Sooner, a large greyhound male, as her best buddy. He would do his sprints around the pasture at roughly 40 miles per hour. Pumping her little legs as best she could, she would trail him till he would soon lap her. Both running with tongues out and wide grins. They were a joy to watch.

I apologize for quality of picture.

As her hair grew, she became quite pretty and I sought to adopt her out. Ginger. was very affectionate if a bit needy so when a friend suggested a woman he knew who was in an assisted living home that allowed pets, I was thrilled. Ginger would get 24/7 attention.

When the lonely woman saw Ginger, it was instant love. I felt I had really found a perfect match and had made two beings very happy. It was a really good day and I was quite comfortable in the adoption. I left my card with the director and told her that if, God forbid, anything happened to the lady, I would take Ginger back.

It was months later when the director called me. She explained that Ginger's owner had Alzheimer's that was progressing and it was getting where she could no longer care for a pet. I asked if I could help out with walks and such but she said that the little dog was being unintentionally abused. The lady would tie the dog to her and not let her move. She would swat Ginger when she tried to move away. I was heart sick that the little dog was being so badly treated but I also felt deeply for the woman and the cruelties of that disease.

The director wanted me to take the dog but said we had to do it while the woman was at a doctors appointment as she would not understand and might get aggressive. This did not sit well with me for I was basically being asked to steal this womans dog. I had no knowledge of Alzheimer's behavior but trusted the director and agreed to steal Ginger.

I went to pick up Ginger when the woman had gone to her appointment. Ginger acted Ok to see me but there was a dull look in her eyes. Under her thick coat, I felt her bones. She had obviously suffered in this home. When we got home, her reunion with Sooner lifted her spirits and I saw some of the old Ginger reappear. I was pretty sure there was no permanent emotional damage but it would just take time.

I had plans that evening and when I got home there was a message on my answering machine. As I played it, my heart split in two.

A thin reedy voice softly spoke. "My doggie, my doggie, what have you done with my doggie? Please, please, I want my doggie," then the phone went dead.

I didn't know you could cry and throw up at the same time. It hurt-so-damn-bad. She had evidently kept my business card from when I first took Ginger to her. Perhaps whoever placed the call, hung up for her. Regardless, she knew I had stolen her companion. Her pain strangled her voice. I couldn't feel any lower or dirtier and I threw up again.

I called the director when I could finally speak. She assured me that in a very short time, the woman would forget all about Ginger. I doubted that but was then told she would soon be going into full custodial care, so having a dog was out. The cruelty of what I had done was impossible to bear.

There was no right thing to do here. I had to protect the dog but did I have the right to make this poor woman suffer any more? Thank God she never called back but I can hear her voice clearly today. I still cringe when I hear the word "doggie."

Ginger later went into a wonderful home where she spent the rest of her years ruling her household as a benevolent dictator. That helps some.


  1. Oh Dear Me. I'm sure you did the right thing, but I've been in the middle of several heart rending decisions like this. Pure agony and heartache.

    The Humane Society is full of dogs whose owners, usually elderly, no longer can responsibly take care of them or are forced to relinquish them because their failing health and faculties require a change in living conditions.

    Most relinquish their pets tearfully. It is sortta like condemning your kids to an uncertain future.

    I admire every shelter provider.

    After my Luckie being such a successful adoption, I'm sure I will do it again if I am capable and have all my mental faculties.

    My dearest friend is 10 years younger than me, and I think she has the guts to tell when I should no longer care for a pet. She is a long-time cat and dog lover. She currently has one pitbull mix found abandoned as a puppy and 4 cats (three strays and 1 HS adoption).

    When Luckie goes to Rainbow Bridge, we may decide we should not have another pet, or adopt older dogs because they are often "throw aways" only because they are old and usually large.


  2. You did the right thing, Patti. Even if that poor, suffering woman wanted Ginger, her ability to love and care for an animal was non-existent. It would be cruel to make an innocent animal stay with an abuser, just to make the abuser happy. Life has these kinds of heart-breaking choices, but you definitely made the right one.

  3. You really did do the right thing, From what little I know about her condition, I am sure she forgot about the dog very quickly.

  4. Well, I know it had to be so heartbreaking to hear that phone messagew, but the Director was right, and your instinct about taking Ginger out of that abusive situation was right, too. How wonderful that eventually Ginger did get a WONDERFUL home where she could "rule", amd was so very loved! You did good!

  5. nitwit,
    I know how you feel. If something happens to Mighty, I would probalby not replace him or if I did,it would be like you , taking in an old dog. I don't want my pet to out live me and have to rely on someone who really doesn't care as much as I do, to decide his fate.

    Thank you. I know it is useless to second guess myself today. My primary concern was Ginger but that lady really broke my heart.

    That is my ohly hope that she forgot Ginger quickly. I know all the months they were together weren't bad, just the towards the end.

    The home she ended up in was wonderful. It was a retieed couple and the wife always kidded that if it came to a decision over her or Ginger, the wife would have been out in the street in a heart beat. She loved Ginger but the husband doted on her. It was a great fit.

  6. Patti-

    I've been away and am just getting caught up on the blogs. How awful for you, but you certainly did what you had to do. I will think of this story now when I hear the word "doggie". *sigh*

    I did have to chuckle a little at your account of her running with the greyhound. My pointer, Logan chases with little success his companion, Bella, a greyhound. She seems to really enjoy effortlessly outrunning her buddy. I can almost see her smiling when she does it.