What Ginger’s Dances Taught Me
Despite My Dances

The ancient Chinese venerated the elderly for their wisdom and celebrated that generation. Their knowledge wasn’t based upon their IQ, which they had inherited from their parents. They acquired their intelligence over a long lifetime of learning from their mistakes.

During the time of the Warring States (475–221 BCE), they started the Chongyang Festival, also called the Double Ninth Festival. They celebrated it on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, which accounts for the name, the Double Ninth Festival. Around this time of the year, many Asians will observe this festival.

“Chongyang Festival”

They will eat Chongyang cakes, drink chrysanthemum wine, and enjoy climbing mountains. They also will wear small branches of the zhuyu plant, which Chinese believe can cure diseases.

“The zhuyu plant”

I danced with death twice just over a dozen years ago. Since then, I have learned a great deal about life and consider myself wise. I am wiser than those who haven’t led death on their dancefloors of life. However, Ginger, my eighty-pound Irish Setter, has done two dances also. A couple of months ago, I took her to Purdue’s Veterinary Hospital twice. On her first hospitalization, she spent time in ICU because she wouldn’t eat. She hadn’t eaten for more than three days. Dr. Derre, Ginger’s attending physician, put her in ICU to feed her intravenously.

The first half of Ginger’s life was that of a hyperactive Irish Setter, but the second half was like she was on a canine rollercoaster. She would be well for a couple of weeks and then sick again. Between Purdue and Dr. Wozniak, Ginger’s local vet, they have developed a treatment plan. Instead of using the zhuyu plant, I give her a weekly shot of vitamin B12 in addition to her daily meds.

What I learned from Ginger’s dances is that our relationship is based on enjoying the moment. It is strange how we have bonded due to our two dances. She started licking my hand at night just before going to sleep during her awful days. It felt like she was thanking me for my help during those really sick days. Interestingly, on the nights that she was feeling fine, Ginger didn’t lick.

I began the B12 shots due to her blood panel indicated that her B12 level was low. What fascinated me was that even though she was much improved, she knew that all wasn’t well. Since the first day that I started with a daily B12 shot, she resumed her licking.

Each night before going to bed, I will tell Ginger what we will do the next day and that I love her. Ginger will patiently listen. I’ll kiss her on top of her head, and her response is to lick my hand. My relationship with Ginger is communicated with words from me and with licking from her.