Happy Birthday, Ginger
I Wish You Many More with Your Blue Dolphin

Yesterday was Ginger’s fifth birthday. We started the week by visiting her vet, Dr. Amy Wozniak. Ginger has been down to Purdue Veterinary Hospital three times in the last couple of years. Two of her visits were in the last several months due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While dogs have to face that medical condition, so do people. In fact, Ginger is taking budesonide which is a prescription drug given to humans with IBS.

Ginger wasn’t feeling very well as we waited to see Dr. Wozniak. Ginger seemed to be worrying about some impending doom.

Dr. Wozniak came into the examining room, greeted Ginger, and wanted to get to the bottom of Ginger’s presenting problems. We went over all her meds and told her my observations. Her analysis was that we could try Visbiome.

Ginger has a problem with inflammation of her digestive tract. Visbiome is a probiotic containing 450 billion lyophilized lactic acid bacteria in each packet. Dr. Wozniak was optimistic about this new treatment plan while acknowledging that IBS isn’t curable, only treatable. She also gave Ginger a prescription to treat her vomiting. I left with Ginger, hopeful that Visbiome might reduce some of her problems related to her IBS.

I went home, ordered the Visbiome, and looked up what lyophilized lactic acid bacteria. Lyophilize is merely another term for freeze-dried. Each morning, Ginger will get 450 billion beneficial bacteria in a packet. This is what the bacteria will look like while floating around in Ginger’s intestines.

I liked the color.

On Ginger’s birthday, she got a stuffed blue dolphin. She can’t have a doggie birthday cake due to her IBS. Nevertheless, we celebrated her fifth birthday. She was happy with another toy that she can carry about the house. Interestingly, whenever she wants to show appreciation for my caring for her, she will run through our home looking for the best gift that she could give to me.

In my lifetime, I had my first Ginger after returning from a year of post-graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I loved my first Ginger, but her successor is different. Ginger II’s first half of her life was typical. She was hyperactive and happy, exactly like her predecessor. Nonetheless, Ginger’s second half is still hyperactive and happy, but it also includes a couple of dances with death. The parallels between our two lives dancing with death are evident.

The dichotomy of happy times interspersed with near-death experiences are difficult to address. While I would never wish that Ginger had to go through her dances, I don’t control the world in which we live. What I can control is how I respond to her problems.

I thought that my first Ginger and I were bonded, which we were. However, it is radically different between Ginger II and me. Dancing with death changed my personal Weltanschauung. Ginger’s dances merely reinforce my learning about life due to my dances.

Regardless of our age, everyone knows that they won’t live forever. However, without successfully leading death on the dancefloor of life, one’s knowledge about death is merely an intellectual insight. Do the dance, and you will know that reality in your gut. It is transformative.

Therefore, Ginger and I will live and dance together hopefully for years to come. However, the knowledge that we are finite due to our dances will allow us to enjoy our time together. If we don’t live in the now, we will regret wasting our time when it is too late. That would be a tragic misuse of life. Life is a gift that isn’t renewable.

This is my gift to Ginger on her fifth birthday. Hopefully, she will retrieve it many times in future years as her gift to me for caring for her.



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