Friday, April 4, 2008


Hi Family,
This was a very tough day. It was emotionally draining, but peaceful when it was all done. It was evident, after the visit to the vet yesterday, that we should let Ginger go. Her body was frail and getting worse each day. Her back hips and legs were starting to give out on her. It was time to say good bye. This morning before going to work, I peeked into her dog house and thought she might have already died during the night. She didn't look up at me like she usually does. As I watched closely, I could finally see her shallow breathing.
I called the vet from work and they said I could bring her in at the close of the day - around 4:45 PM. It was a hard day knowing what I was having to face. I came home from work early and thought I had better start digging a grave. I didn't see Ginger anywhere and wondered if she had already died in her doghouse. I was almost wishing that were the case so I wouldn't have to go through the ordeal at the vet's. I found her around the corner of the house alive, laying under the lilac bush. I cried some more and hugged her.

I thought I would bury her in a big box and started digging a hole that would fit it - under the lilac bush - her favorite spot. Ethan came home from school and told me he had also had a tough day. His teacher noticed him weeping on occasion and sweetly comforted him when he explained why. Ethan and I hugged for a little bit then he said that "it was the best thing for Ginger." He grabbed a shovel and started digging. We were pleased to find out that after a layer of rocks and gravel there was fairly soft sand. We dug a pretty deep hole. We also discovered I accidentally sliced through a sprinkler line and had to do a quick splicing job.

At 4:40 I attached Ginger's leash to her collar. She was calm and walked beside me to the car. I helped her into the back seat and she sat next to Ethan. Still calm and not frantic and moaning like she usually is in the back seat. When we got to the vet, Ethan said he really needed to go to the bathroom before we got started. He said "Don't worry Dad. I just have to go pee". I told him to run inside and ask to use their restroom. I waited a few more minutes outside trying to maintain my composure. I took a deep breath and walked to the front desk. The receptionist smiled and said "Hello, what will we be doing for you today". I was kind of surprised because I thought it was clear that I had a 4:45 appointment. I took another deep breath and whimpered "we need to put my dog Ginger to sleep". She said she was sorry and would get the paper work. I signed the consent form and wrote a check. I had let go of the leash and Ginger just sniffed around the office going room to room. Different people greeted her as she made herself at home.
We were taken to a room where the lady doctor and a male assistant came to talk us. Ethan said that he would wait outside the door. I asked if he wouldn't mind coming in with us. I really needed him to be with me. He said okay and sat on my lap. The doctor asked if we had ever experienced this before. I nodded no. She explained that they would shave a lit patch of hair on her leg so they could find a vein. They would insert a small catheter where the medicine would go. She would first push a little saline through and then the medicine. The medicine was an anaesthetic that would relax Ginger, then she would sleep and the heart would stop.
They put a blanket on the floor and invited us to hold her while this took place. Ethan preferred to stay in the chair and covered his face. I knelt on the blanket, holding Ginger, petting her soft ears and kissing her on the nose. The doctor was very kind and gentle. She spoke softly to Ginger and administered the medicine. Ginger laid down on the blanket and looked very peaceful. Her eyes were still remained open, as the doctor listened for the heart beat. It had stopped and Ginger was gone. They asked if we would like a few minutes alone and I nodded yes. I gently closed her eye lids and tried to stifle my cry. Ethan and I hugged.
The assistant came back in the room with a blanket carrier to wrap her in. He gently placed her in it and tied the black ribbon in a bow. I was relieved to see this because I didn't know if my old bathrobe would have worked too well or was very dignified. I guess I was still in shock and I asked him if I needed to pay extra for this or had to return it to them. Pretty stupid questions, but he seemed to understand and kindly said "No. This is for you to bury her in. It's yours". Then he asked if he could help us put her in the car. I gratefully accepted the offer. He placed her gently in the back seat next to Ethan.
We drove home and both Ethan and I felt relief. I carried her to the graveside and set her down on the ground.

We went inside to tell give Mom a call. She was still at school helping with the knowledge bowl. Ethan and I went back outside and knelt down next to Ginger. I said a little prayer and we felt Ginger's head one more time through the fabric wrap. I placed her down in the grave and we proceeded to bury her. I think it was good therapy for us to be doing this together. We felt a sense of relief and peace. We gathered a few things to help decorate the grave including her dog dish, collar, leash, dog bones and a ball. Ethan organized them on the mound of dirt and talked about a head stone that he would design.

Our difficult task was done and we all felt much better. Muffy, the Lockhart's little dog watched us through the fence. Just as we stood up from the grave, the church bells started ringing down the block. Ethan said that was pretty neat. It was 6:00. We were both feeling very hungry and went to Dairy Queen for dinner.
We'll all miss Ginger. She has been a part of our family for over 13 years. A lot has happened in that time. She has been my companion when everyone else was gone. She traveled with me from Idaho. We slept in the car at the park in Gunnison on our move to Monte Vista. I felt so bad when I had to leave her at the kennel when I arrived in Monte Vista. I had to close on the house then drive to Albuquerque where the rest of the family was gathered for a Chatwin reunion. She was my pal. I'm sure our Heavenly Father knows this and will find a way for us to be with ALL of our loved ones again someday.
Thanks for letting me share this. Now maybe I can get to sleep.

5 people leaving some love!:

Rebecca said...

Man, I didn't even know Ginger and I cried my eyes out reading this! Dogs really do become part of our family, don't they?

Utley Family said...

It is so hard to lose a pet who has really been part of your family! Ginger was such a great dog. I wish I was closer so I could help out while you heal from your surgery. You sure do have a good attitude!

Melissa said...

Hey it's your cousin Melissa- I am so sorry about Ginger, I've never had a dog and can't imagine how difficult it would be to lose one, what a tough experience to go through!
P.S. I've enjoyed reading your blog, it's so nice to see what people are up to

Reschke Fam said...

I'm was so sad to read about your dog Ginger. I too sat and "bawled" while reading this. In fact our dog Dakota got up and came to me to see if I was OK. Dakota is about 11 and is showing signs of aging (eventhough we call her Puppy still) She is a 125 lb. Malamute filled with fun and fur! I'm so proud of Ethan for being able to stand with his dad through all of that. I'm sure the resurrection affords us our animals in the eternal plan.
luv ya,

Carolina mama said...

It is really hard losing a pet! What bittersweet pictures of Ethan. I cried too. We lost our cat last summer. The same day that Tyler & Monica moved to Nevada. I'm so sorry.