Last night, Ginger disappeared. My husband had come in and out of our patio a couple of times before and after dinner, attempting to enjoy a bit of a breezy sunset after broiling all week with 90 plus degree temperatures. Typically, we both sit on the patio; but this time, I busied myself applying some new cooking methods I had learned from a webinar, so I stayed in the kitchen.
When I had finished prepping the meal, I invited my husband in for dinner. We didn’t notice if Ginger was inside or outside. We finished our meal and my husband went back outside while I loaded the dishwasher. By this time, darkness had fallen and he flipped on our pergola Edison bulbs that framed the exterior of the structure.
Ginger’s lack of presence began to become obvious. Usually at a meal, she hovers or at least sits quietly waiting for us to drop crumbs that she will quickly “Hoover” up. Not this time. And after the meal, when we load the dish washer, she patiently waits to see if all fourteen pounds of her pug/dachshund body can reach the open dishwasher door to sniff out any remaining morsels before it is slammed shut with all remaining treats to be washed away forever. Not this time.
“Lee: have you got Ginger out there with you?” I inquired.
“Nope. I thought she was inside with you.”
A wave of panic began to grab my insides.
“No, and I don’t see her anywhere … Ginger! Ginger!” I began shouting as I ran through the house, hoping she’d resurface. Lee did the same in our backyard and toward the street. No response. Dead silence in the darkness.
We both freaked. It was inky black outside. We went into autopilot search mode: what to do next? I would send out an email with a photo begging for neighbors to be on the lookout for a fourteen pound, sweet, ginger colored long dog who loves everyone. My husband grabbed his car fob to drive around our neighborhood in the dark, hoping he’d spot her on someone’s lawn or in the street.He began to mutter.
“Darn, just when I wanted to relax, I’ve got to start worrying about finding our dog!”
You could tell he was clearly agitated and worried. After a year of owning this velvety soft rescue dog, she had become part of our daily routine with a relationship of showing her our love every day. He would wake her up and open her kennel every morning, greeting her with,
“How’s my puppy? Do you want to go out?” Her tail would wag furiously in agreement.
And after she had done her business,
” OK, Pup let’s go inside and get your breakfast… Good puppy! You listened! when I called you.”
This would be quickly followed by offering her a bowl of food that would be consumed in 30 seconds.
When we watched TV at night, she would take her position to sleep between my raised legs on our lounger chair. That’s just the way it had evolved. And now suddenly she was gone. We both felt the emptiness and the loss.
Lee made one last foray into our backyard yelling,“Ginger! Come get a cookie!” But still no Ginger. At this point I was starting to grieve and tried not to think about us without our sweet companion. We had rescued her from a No Kill Shelter called Furkids last year and really fell in love with her gentle, sweet personality.
Lee grabbed his car fob and stuffed it in his pocket. He rushed to open the back door to the garage. He felt the warm, dark, stagnant air. As he took one step down to enter the garage, two black- rimmed, chocolate brown eyes stared up at him through the darkness, tail wagging furiously in greeting. He pushed the garage door button to open the door and bring light into the scene.
“I found her! She was in the garage!” He exclaimed with a huge sigh of relief.
We had gone grocery shopping earlier in the day. Upon our return, as we unloaded the grocery bags into the kitchen, Ginger had followed one of us into the hot garage without us knowing, and we had closed the door on her on our final return to the house. She never barked or whimpered. There was no scratching on the door or whining. Just silence as she patiently waited for someone to find her.
After finding her, it struck me. How many of us silently put up with something in our lives that is to our detriment, but never say anything? How often do we then suffer in silence, as Ginger did in a hot garage, hoping someone comes to our rescue or something changes? Or not.
Her tiny presence is a big part of our lives from morning breakfast to evening treats. There is a routine to it that is understood between all parties. But what happens when the routine gets broken? When something out of the ordinary is done or said that impacts us; do we sit silently, implying agreement, or do we declare any objections we may have? In Ginger’s case, hours of being left in a hot garage could have impacted her life, and yet she sat silently waiting. What makes her so sweet also creates its own jeopardy for her.
Our amiable traits, while valued, can also hurt us. at home and at work. We see this in corporate America where a strategy will be to the detriment of a group or the business, but no one speaks up. Or when a behavior of a colleague is uninvited, but the victim keeps silent, never declaring that the perpetrator has overstepped his bounds. Enough is enough. Speak up. Bark or shout, whine or pound your fists; make your position known. I wish I could train Ginger to do this when she gets stuck in our Pantry, or closed into one of our closets. Or a hot garage.
It could potentially save a life.