Story told by Kim B.
My decision to get a dog was to be sure I could handle children if and when I was ready to have them. I thought if I could handle the responsibility of a dog then I may be better prepared to have children. The moment I saw Ginger I knew we were destined to be together. I bought her the next day and took her home that weekend. We had our ups and downs struggling for the Alpha position in the beginning but we soon compromised and became equals. Ginger has been with me through some difficult times. We moved from a house into an apartment after my ex and I split and she was with me through the loss of my father. I am always grateful that I have Ginger to come home to. Ginger is my everything! She taught me to love unconditionally, she has taught me patience and compassion and she even gets me to exercise. Ginger has been my best friend and my soul mate. I always joke with friends that we even look alike; long legs, lean and the same hair color. When I am sad, Ginger is sad. If I stay home sick then within a few days Ginger appears to be sick. I know it sounds crazy but it's true! Anyone who knows us could testify to this statement.
The last week of March was a challenge getting Ginger to eat. I tried boiled hamburger and rice and she was not interested. I added gravy and still she wouldn't eat. I took her to my mom's house for the weekend thinking maybe she was depressed; I knew my family would help cheer her up. Unfortunately, though she was in better spirits she wouldn't eat for any of us. We came home on Sunday and she slept the whole day.
I woke up Monday morning, April 2nd and brought her to the vets. Physically Kate, our veterinarian thought she looked great. We did blood work and scheduled x-rays for the following morning. I dropped Ginger off with Kate and headed to work. Kate called me just before noon to inform me Ginger was ready to go home. She suggested we talk in person. I was informed Ginger was anemic and the x-rays indicated a tumor on her spleen and possibly one on her heart. We scheduled an ultrasound for the following Tuesday. I left there at a loss thinking for the first time I may lose my beloved Ginger. The thought made me sad and overwhelmed with disappointment. Imagining a day without Ginger is hard to do never mind thinking the rest of my life. I knew I would lose her one day but I never thought it would be so soon after her 8th birthday.
Getting Ginger to eat that week still proved a challenge. At this point we were working on two weeks and I resorted to canned foods, lunch meat, hot dogs and continued with the hamburger and rice. She wouldn't eat much of anything except a few of her treats. We spent the weekend again at my mom's to keep us both from feeling depressed.
On Tuesday, April 10th Ginger had her ultrasound. This time I refused to leave her at the vets. Kate was nice enough to take Ginger in herself and stay with her through the procedure. The findings were bleak; as I suspected they would be. Ginger indeed had a tumor in her spleen; we thought it was a Harmangio Sarcoma. Her heart thankfully did not have a tumor. What we believed may have been a tumor from the x-rays was an enlarged lymph node. However her heart was enlarged and she had fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart. Kate sent me home with vitamins and herbal supplements for her anemia as well as the phone number for a surgery consult.
Though I have been going to the same vet for a while and Kate has worked there for years our paths had never crossed. I am so thankful she became a part of our lives. Receiving devastating news about a loved one is very difficult; Kate was so compassionate that she made it a bit more tolerable and I didn't think that would be possible giving the circumstances.
Again we had to wait another week of hardly eating until we were scheduled for the consult. At this point I was loosing hope knowing Ginger wouldn't survive much longer without eating. My family and friends rallied around and tried convincing her to eat. Some days we could get her to eat some turkey or hot dogs and I was always relieved on those days; but mostly we were lucky to get her to eat period.
On Monday, April 16th I brought Ginger to our surgery consultation. My sister accompanied me for moral support and advice. Our surgeon, Dr. Gibson was very professional and explained that after reviewing the x-rays and ultrasound the only option left was to perform surgery to see what was happening inside Ginger's abdomen. After a painful goodbye I walked out the door wondering if I would ever see my baby again. Leaving Ginger there was the most difficult decision I have made in my life so far. I was afraid they would find the cancer had progressed too much and not wake her up. I had signed papers giving consent if this was Dr. Gibson's finding while operating on Ginger. I spent six hours crying at my mother's waiting for the phone to ring. At 6:30 that night Dr. Gibson called to inform me that Ginger made it through the surgery and anesthesia with no complications. My sister and I went to visit her a few hours after the surgery. Ginger was pretty drugged up but I wanted her to know I was still near her.
Dr. Gibson removed Ginger's spleen. She informed me her spleen was enlarged which was the result of Ginger's inability to eat. Unfortunately her spleen did have a tumor which was sent out for biopsy. Dr. Gibson also found lesions on her liver, which was sent for biopsy.
I was able to bring Ginger home the following day. Ginger ate her first meal for me that night and has been eating since. She is still recovering from her surgery at this time and she is coming along with rapid speed. When I come home from work she greets me as she always has. Now I drop everything in my hands and pay immediate attention to her. It's amazing it takes something bad to happen to completely and whole heartedly show our love for another. Ginger sleeps in my bed every night. I wake up many nights and feel her to make sure she is okay. Most nights I believe she knows exactly what I am thinking because she licks my hand and lays her head back down.
Ginger's biopsy results came back malignant. What we thought was a Harmangio Sarcoma is not; it is Histiocytic Sarcoma. I found the news very difficult to digest and am still trying to deal with my potential loss. After much research I am astonished to see how aggressive HS is. I am scared! Every day I go to work and wonder if she will be okay when I get home. I go home every day at lunch and straight home after work. I smile on my way up the stairs when I hear her happy growls because she knows her mother is home.
I have learned a lot from the emotions I have been going through. It makes me stop while I am trying to hurry to get my errands done because I want to get home to Ginger. I find I look into people's faces with a little more compassion then I used to. I realize everyone has a story to tell. Some people you see it in their eyes or the wrinkles around their eyes and mouth; others look tired or stressed. Some are trying to hide their story while others and it's usually the younger generation that don't have a story quite yet; most likely theirs is in the beginning phases.
Ginger truly has taught me to be a better person. No matter how many other dogs I have in the future she will always be "My Beloved Baby"; "My Queen Ginger". She will always be my kindred spirit who truly loved me and has taught me to love her for every moment we have ever spent together and for the ones we have left to spend.
It has taken me four weeks of grieving before I could complete Ginger's Story I am not even sure I am ready to write this but I owe it to her to write it while everything is still clear in my head. I lost Ginger on June 2nd. Six weeks and four days after her surgery. We had a wonderful 6 1/2 weeks together.
During the 6 1/2 weeks I posted a calendar on my refrigerator monitoring her good days and bad days. She had so many good days and I felt blessed. Some days we could only walk a block because she tired quickly but her happiest moments were when she got to roll in grass. Instead of her regular diet I allowed her in moderation the finer things in life like steak, pork loin and chicken. A friend of ours even bought Ginger her own steak. I mixed pieces of the grilled steak with her dry food over a several day period. She loved it! I realized how short her time was and I wanted to spoil her like crazy.
At the end of May however the smiley faces on the calendar changed to straight or sad faces. Ginger slowly stopped eating her breakfast; became lethargic and on May 30th she didn't say bye to me when I left for work. My heart was broken as I knew this was a premonition of what was to come. I called Kate that day and we started Ginger on prednisone that evening.
The following day Ginger ate all her breakfast and dinner. I was happy that I had decided to put her on prednisone. Unfortunately it didn't last long ~ at all! By Friday morning Ginger had lapsed back into not eating. I called the vets and started her on pain medication that evening.
I woke up Saturday morning, June 2nd to the sound of Ginger getting sick. She got sick three times in all, refused to go out to do her duties and did not leave her bed until she had to be lifted out of our home. I am not going to go into the details of what happened as this is very personal to me. But needless to say within a few hours I lost my beloved baby on our way to the veterinarians. I was blessed to have two of my friends with me which allowed me to sit on the floor of my car with my head right next to Ginger's. I will never ever forget a single moment about this day. I am currently haunted by the images and emotions but I know the good memories will over power once the grieving has eased.
I am not ready to get another dog quite yet but I will indeed be a proud mom again! I am so grateful for Ginger and her love for me. She truly was the best and most beautiful dog a mother could ever hope for!
I will always love and remember my beloved Ginger!