What Fascinates Me About Ginger
In Our Time Together

This essay is about my Irish Setter, Ginger. She will be three near the end of next month. I can’t explain all the various reasons for my getting Ginger in my twilight years. My first Ginger was the first thing that I got after returning from post-graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. I would love to know why I wanted to get another Ginger. If you have any ideas, merely email me.

However, this essay is about my second Ginger. Ginger and I have a reciprocal relationship in many ways. This is Ginger during her first Christmas.

However, Ginger will soon be three years old. It is interesting that she wants to sleep in the same bed as I do. What intrigues me is our bedtime routine. I will give her a bedtime treat, kiss her on the top of her head, and tell her that I love her. After I turn off the light, she will move close to me just so that she is touching me.

Nevertheless, after ten minutes, she thinks that I am asleep. Then quietly, she will get up and go to the foot of the bed, which faces the door to the bedroom. It is an instinctual behavior that goes back twelve thousand years.

Domestication of animals

Dogs were the first domesticated animal, and they see themselves as the protector of their master. However, while Ginger is protecting me, she finds a place at the foot of the bed where she can touch my feet, even though it is through a sheet and blanket.

However, sometime before I awake in the morning, Ginger will return to the head of the bed where she started the night before and waits until I wake up. When I get up and to go to the bathroom, the first thing that she does is to go to the place where I had slept. She certainly can smell my presence in the sheet and pillow.

Our day begins by circumnavigating the lake. That routine is usually soon after sunrise. It takes about an hour. When we return home, I have my grapefruit and coffee. Ginger knows the routine. After that, I get her meal. Then I take a shower while Ginger lays on the floor next to the shower.

Then off I go to my home office. After an hour or so, I’ll take Ginger out, and we walk around the house. Ginger will always go to the dock. I can’t determine what interests her standing on the dock. She apparently smells things blowing across the lake. Finally, we will return to my office. In the wintertime, she will sit next to or on my feet for the warmth.

However, in the summer, she likes to lie on the terra cotta tile floor near the various doors in the house for the cooling effect.

I understand the affection issue related to the dog and master. However, Ginger is really into affection. When we play a game or she does something outstanding, I’ll praise her loudly, and she goes wild. Her body will twist and undulate in sheer joy. Then she will frantically look for a toy for either her gift to me as the alpha male or something with which we can play with each other. Praise is something that Ginger truly enjoys.

Ginger shows her affection also due to my protecting her. The two noises that she hates are the sound of thunder during a storm and fireworks. Those sounds terrorize her and create a dilemma for her. Her instinct is to go to her room where her crate is. It is located in the house where those noises aren’t heard. However, that means being away from me. So, I try to comfort her and tell her all will be alright. It is then amid the concern and fear that she will lick my hand.

Often, during times unrelated to troubling noises, I will tell Ginger that I love and give her a kiss. She understands my affection for her but isn’t sure how to reciprocate. This is often her response.

It amazes me that dogs and humans interact so much. Wolves and therefore dogs are not close at all to humans in their evolutionary journey. Humans share common ancestors with great apes, chimpanzees, and gorillas. However, dogs’ vocabulary can range from a couple hundred words to one dog that knows 1,022 words. While I love teaching my students at college, I am not doing vocabulary drills with Ginger. Nonetheless, dogs and especially Ginger seem to want to learn vocabulary.

So, this has been an interesting essay about my dog, Ginger. However, I have danced with death twice. I don’t want to relive either dance, but I won’t delete either of them from my life. Why? I learned that my clock was really ticking. I knew prior to either dance that I was not immortal. You know that also.

Nevertheless, dance with death, and you really know it. Since that reality of your limited time in this world stares you in your face, you will function differently. You will be more involved, more active, and more into things.

I can see that truism with my relations with family and friends, but I can see it with my relationship with Ginger. When either of us will die isn’t something that we can determine. I’m 76, and Ginger is nearly 3. Social Security’s actuarial tables predict a male at my age will live for another dozen years on average. Irish Setters’ lifespan is 12-15 years on average. That means that Ginger and I, with good health and luck, have about the same amount of time remaining on our journey together down our yellow brick road.

To be honest with you, I hope that we do live for at least another dozen or more years. However, neither of us wishes to be the last one standing. I hope that in some distant evening that I will kiss Ginger goodnight and go to sleep and not wake up.

However, over the last several months, Ginger is dealing with irritable bowel syndrome. I’m not used to her being ill. That creates a haunting feeling within me. Whatever the medical results are for Ginger, I am keenly aware of dancing with death. I assure you that I will do what I can to help guarantee her a long life. Nevertheless, we will enjoy the moment. My insight about Ginger and me is a teaching moment for you. Enjoy the time that you have now.

This video is a game that I invented of Ginger. It is difficult to video and play the game at the same time, but….