The story of Ginseng|
I adopted Ginseng shortly after I moved to St Paul, MN in April 2000 from my friend, Patsy. I moved up there to get away from Lincoln and Patsy gave me a job, a home, and the best friend I ever had. Patsy had another, younger dog that dominated Ginseng so it was better that she wasn't around her as much.
We took the dogs for walks frequently and drove up to one of the suburbs to a dog park on occasion. In Patsy's house there was a landing on the staircase leading to the second story that Ginseng would sit on and wait for me to come home from work. When I walked in the front door, she would race down the steps to greet me. I began to take her places with me in the truck when Patsy didn't go with me. I knew it was time to leave when Patsy let Ginseng, a dog that was once hers, get soaked to the bone outside in freezing rain while I was at work.
In January 2002, Ginseng and I moved back to Nebraska. She always acclimated well to wherever we lived. We stayed temporarily with friends Jan and Tom in Ashland for a few weeks until we were able to move into a rental trailer in Syracuse. Ginseng was free to roam nearby when I let her out but more than once I had to search for her during the night since she liked to wander. I commuted to Lincoln to work every day so she spent long hours under the porch on a chain. But she was always there; ready to spend time with me.
We moved into Lincoln in August 2003, also living temporarily, with another friend and her 2 cats that were never too crazy about a dog living there. I tried to leave her outside during the day but she barked at people passing by, disturbing Lani's parents who already were not thrilled we had moved in. I was less than thrilled myself that my dog was constantly shut in my room, like a prisoner, while I was gone. Three months later we rented the main floor apartment of an old house. There was a big backyard for her to call her own. Foolishly, I had fed her chocolate several times and she had such an allergic reaction to it that the vet had to completely shave her and I had to bathe her with medicated shampoo. She wasn't crazy about getting a bath but otherwise was always in good spirits. Santa brought her a soft doggie bed for Christmas in 2004 and life was good.
Jan and I took her to Wichita over Labor Day weekend once. We pitched a tent and left her tied near it while we went to shower. When we came back she was tied to a nearby tree because she had torn up the corner of my nylon tent, presumably because she didn't like being left behind. Some guys had moved her away from it to keep her from chewing it completely to bits. That night I gave her the juices from some meat we had marinated in wine and she had diarrhea all the way home so we had to stop often to let her out. That taught me not to listen to anyone else on what I should feed her again.
We bought a house in March 2006 and there was a big backyard. But I always found Ginseng in the window well when I came home. Well, almost always. She got out of the gate and went wandering across a busy street more than once. She spent overnight at the Humane Society once because I had no idea where she was. They had her listed as a Sheltie, not a Border Collie and it wasn't until a guy who lived in the neighborhood called to ask if I knew she was there since he had called Animal Control to come get her. Lost her again another time when she somehow got down the basement steps and was lying there waiting for me, calm as you please. She was never able to climb the steps up to the second floor in that house so she slept in the living room and I missed having her with me at night. We took walks around the neighborhood frequently and she still rode in the truck all the time. At times I'd find her behind the couch or under the sewing cabinet in the dining room, wherever it was safe and she could feel secure.
In September 2008 we moved to a duplex. Now we lived all on one level and Ginseng could sleep on the bed with me again. Even though she was a bed hog and took her half out of the middle a lot. She always seemed to know when it was bedtime and she'd come in search of me if I was on the computer in the spare bedroom, or in the bathroom. She'd lead me down the hall and wait to be picked up and put on the bed since it was too high for her to jump up on or down from. I was afraid she'd get hurt jumping down and I think she was a little afraid to try it anyway. Walks around the block and occasionally at the dog park and always riding in the truck. Sometimes I'd leave her sleeping in the living room if she looked comfortable but during the night I'd hear her coming down the hall panting. And I'd pick her up and put her on the bed next to me. Holidays at my sister's house where she made herself at home, taking her dinner bone into the living room like she did at home even though I tried more than once to get her to eat in the kitchen with the rest of us. She had become an inside dog because shortly after we moved into the duplex I chained her up outside in the front yard and she was so used to lying in the window well that she tried it there as well. Only it was several feet deep because of the apartment below and fortunately the landlord happened by and found her hanging down in it by the chain. I never put her outside during the day alone again. I never felt the backyard would work since she needed to see me leave or would bark like crazy thinking I was at home and needed to let her in.
May 2009 she showed me her ornery side when I bought an ottoman and within days she started to chew it to bits. Within weeks the entire vinyl and padded cushion were in shreds. I always thought it was because I was going out of town and she knew I would be leaving her alone. Even though she would be in good hands when a friend came to take care of her. So I bought a cage and stuck her in it a few times when she was naughty, but I still loved her even when she acted up. She didn't like the cage much and let me know it by chewing loose a few bars and scratched off some paint on others. Later on I thought that must have been how a few of her teeth got broken off. Or maybe when she chewed the flexible pipes under the toilet tanks.
When I bought a compact car in September 2009 she didn't ride along as often. That winter was a hard one with all the snow and she didn't want to go down in it to potty. I let her just do her thing on the top step but Spring came and she still didn't want to go down the steps much anymore. I had to face the fact she was getting old, over 16 by this time. I carried her up and down them but I didn't mind. She still had enough energy to jump down them once in a while, especially when I got the leash to go for a walk. But her wanting to ride in the car diminished, which made me sad because I liked her riding along as well.
July 9, 2010 I came home and found her so weak she couldn't get off the mattress she laid on in the living room. I had planned to go out of town for the weekend but cancelled because I was so worried about her. Within a couple days she was fine and I jokingly said she was faking because she didn't want me to leave her at home. On the 23rd, I came home from work and found her head twisted so far around it was resting on her back. She let out a yelp when I turned it back around but that was one of the few times I ever knew she was in pain. I was too afraid to take her to the vet, thinking they would say she was too far gone and would insist I put her to sleep. From that point on she didn't seem to have the strength to get up from a lying position on her own but she still walked by herself for the most part. August 8th I couldn't get her to eat and she was unable to walk on her own any longer. I struggled with what I should do and prayed God would take care of her for me. I didn't have the strength to do it. Occasionally she would muster the strength to pull her head up and sit up on her front paws as if to say, Hey, I'm not ready to go anywhere. Otherwise, she would lie on whatever mattress I put her on. But finally I felt I was not left with any other choice but to put her to sleep since it was not fair to keep her going on as she was. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do but I knew she was just too old. The last few weeks I had her with me I'd still turn and expect to see her standing in the doorway when I was on the computer even though I knew she didn't have the strength to get up and come looking for me. I tried to spend as much time with her as I could since I knew our days together were numbered. The time I spent working overtime should have been spent with her.
I had her cremated so I could still have a part of her with me. The vet thought it was kidney failure due to old age. So my not taking her to a vet for years didn't play as big of a part in it as I feared. At least I still hope it didn't.
There were so many good times, and we spent 10 great years together that just flew by. The house was so empty without her, especially when I got home from the vet's office right after I put her to sleep.
There will never be another like Ginseng. I called her Punkinhead, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Doggie Girl, Sweetheart, my Pretty Girl, Slobberpuss, Drool Baby and lots of other little nicknames. Her face just got prettier the older she got. She had a very distinct personality and was very smart. She somehow knew when it was the weekend and if I was leaving that she should be able to go with me, not like a weekday when she knew I was going to work. She liked having her tummy rubbed and sometimes she'd give me doggie kisses on the face. She was a happy dog and smiled a lot. When she was being silly and wanted attention she would lie with her tongue sticking out and pant. That was my cue to pet her. She liked treats and being petted but didn't like getting brushed very much after I got out of the habit of doing it. She especially didn't like having her tail brushed. When she was younger, you could always tell how she was feeling by her tail. At the start of a walk her tail would be up in the air and wagging, later on it would be down close to her body if she was scared of something or not sure of impending danger. She was always good on a leash and if it got under her body from it being too slack when I held it, she'd stop and wait for me to move it back into the right place. At the dog park when she could be free of a leash, she'd trot up ahead, and then stop and turn to make sure I was still following behind her and wait for me to catch up.
She liked people more than other dogs and was always good when little kids wanted to pet her. She didn't like the noise of fireworks except maybe the last year when she might have lost some hearing and it didn't bother her like it had before. She didn't like getting a bath but she always liked to be towel dried when she got wet from the rain or snow, or a bath. Together we battled rats at Patsy's house, mice in Janet's trailer and all manner of other unwanted creatures wherever we went. She liked to explore new places, even inviting herself in to the neighbor's garage for a look around. She got herself wedged in by the front of his car and he had to back it out so I could grab her, but he got a kick out of her just the same.
She was more than a dog, more than just a pet; she was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was given someone to love and I know she loved me back.
August 11, 2013 I still think of you and love you, my dear sweet girl. You showed me what it was to love unconditionally and there will never be another like you.
August 11, 2017 I've always believed you sent me Baileys in your place so I wouldn't be so lonely without you. She has never replaced you in my heart but now has a spot beside the love and happy memories I still have of you, my sweet Ginseng.