Ginger’s Rhino Horn
A Priceless Treasure

For the past decade and a half, Maureen and Dennis have been my neighbors. However, they are moving to a bigger house, which is mile from their old home. While they get ready for their big move, I’m getting my home fixed up and getting rid of items that I don’t need. I have tried to unload some of my near-priceless stuff with them but to no avail. Actually, they are doing the same thing…trying to unload near-priceless stuff with me. That’s the backstory.

Several years ago, I was biking around my subdivision and stopped to give treats to their dogs, which I had done for over a decade. Maureen was in the yard, and I mentioned that I was thinking about getting another Irish Setter like the one I had at the beginning of my adult life. Maureen’s response was short and to the point, “Get the dog.” Now, had I been talking to Dennis about the possibility of getting a dog, we would have discussed the matter for an hour.

Just before Christmas two years ago, I drove to Home, PA, which is east of Pittsburgh to pick up Ginger II. My cardiologist is happy for my acquisition. My heart is doing well, which is credited to a daily hour exercise program with Ginger. Each day, we walk around the lake. Both of us are in good shape due to our cardiovascular exercise program.

Ginger and I have bonded. She is the most affectionate dog that I have ever had or met. I take my blood pressure when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. I sit down on the bed, and Ginger comes and sits next to me. She will sit there while I check my blood pressure. However, the first thing she does is to put her paw on my thigh as a sign of affection as I begin the routine.

A couple days ago, I was returning from circumnavigating the lake with Ginger, and Maureen was taking her dog out for a short walk. Her dog is getting old and Ginger was dead tired. Therefore, we talked while both dogs rested. We talked about a handful of issues, but Maureen wanted to give Ginger a large container of dog bones that they didn’t need. I declined by saying that Ginger had tons of bones already.

Maureen wouldn’t accept my response and started showing Ginger several very nice bones. Realizing that I would offend Maureen, I told her that Ginger could take one and only one bone. So, Maureen spread out a dozen choices for Ginger. It was like taking a child to the candy store and asking which piece of candy did the child wish?

Ginger clearly understood the game. She would pick one up and walk around with it for a few seconds. Then she’d pick up another and repeat the same routine. However, after several failed choices, she picked up a water buffalo’s horn. Her decision was finally made. She was delighted and started to walk home proud as a peacock. She didn’t drop it as we walked back to our home, which was a half dozen houses from Maureen and Dennis’ place.

Even when we got to our home, Ginger walked around the house with the water buffalo’s horn in her mouth for about an hour. When she felt secure, she started talking. “I’ve had antler bones before but nothing like this rhino horn. This is a great treasure of mine, thanks to Maureen.”

I replied that it wasn’t a rhino horn.

“It is a black rhino horn. Canines can tell the difference between a horn of a water buffalo and a rhino.”

My retort was that rhino horns aren’t common in the States, and there are restrictions about buying them from smugglers bringing them into the country.

“I know that. This one is very old. However, in today’s market, poachers will kill the rhino just for its horn. Most of the horns are from Africa. A horn, depending on its size, could cost $100,000-300,000.

I told Ginger that a couple hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. Then I added that people grind up the horn and use it as an aphrodisiac. However, apparently, Ginger knew more than I did about the use of rhino horns.

“Well, the issue of an aphrodisiac isn’t the main reason for buying rhino horns. The largest market for them is in China and Vietnam. In both countries, the rhino horn is used as a cancer cure. People with cancer will bypass traditional cures like radiation or chemotherapy for the alleged curing power of rhino horn powder. If the person has the money, the person will rely upon the powder produced from the rhino horn to cure that person’s cancer.”

I admitted that I was not aware of that.

“Well, people in those countries have, for the last decade, believed that the powder was an actual cure. However, the cancer rate has increased by 20-30% in both countries, and the general mortality rate due from cancer is over 70%. As the number of rhinos decrease, the cost of their horns increase. In turn, that reduces the rhino population, which, increases the cost of the rhino horns. It is a catch-22.

“However, in Vietnam, they use rhino horns for liver disease due to drinking. Some even claim that the use of the rhino horn’s powder while drinking will help the drinker not to become drunk. Nonetheless, Chinese medicine dates back 3,000 years, and there are no records indicating the rhino horn cures either cancer or alcoholism.”

Again, I had no real information about the mistaken use of rhino horns. However, Ginger continued her lesson.

“Even though there isn’t any scientific medical data about the drinking issue, some artisans have used the rhino horn to sculpt drinking cups…very fancy and ornate ones. Here are a couple examples.”

A rhino horn drinking cup

This is a matching set.

My only reply was that there was a great deal of artistic work in these cups. Nonetheless, in both examples, the amount of flood in the cups is quite small.

Then Ginger showed me how Maureen’s dog was doing a canine’s artistic expression on the rhino horn. Then Ginger added, “I’ll finish the carving.”

Thus Ginger Spoke

Thus Ginger Spoke

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