14 years and 4 months is a long lifetime for any dog. But I like to believe that Ginger was a dog only in his form, not in his long association with the rest of us. I have written about his arrogance and about how spoilt he was. There have been times when ma has called me by his name. As for dad, he couldn’t do any wrong, even when he chewed off the legs of wooden stools and ripped apart a tall curtain in the living room.
My dear Ginger died this morning. It is heart breaking when your pet dies and all of us have been bawling since morning. He was sick for a few days now and had stopped eating. But then that isn’t anything new, Gin has always been cheating death. He has jumped off the terrace, got into bloody fights with dogs thrice his size and had possibly all sorts of diseases. And he had survived.
My room was his turf all these years, when I moved in and put in new furniture, he, perched on his rickety table so he could see out the window, would give me a near dirty look. Early in the morning when I was asleep, he would come near my bed and sniff loudly, wondering what I was doing in his room. The table is gone now, but I expect to hear him barge in and slump down under the cot when he was too lazy to go downstairs for lunch.
when a bunch of boys came up, made a sob story about how the mother was killing all her pups, and gave ma a tiny bundle one afternoon a long time ago. It was the start of cold monsoon and before long, Ginger, named for the colour of his fur (and because I wanted an unusual name after a line of Tommys and Jimmys and Tigers), was literally sleeping on top of Nancy . He developed his personality soon thereafter, becoming, like I said earlier, arrogant and thoroughly spoilt. Nancy
Ginger never grew tall and lack of calcium early on affected his health all through. But he sure made up with cuteness. Every morning ma would take his blanket out to air out in the sun for a while. Soon, he would drag the yellow cloth out of the room and dump it in the corner of the terrace and plunk himself on it, airing both himself and the blanket! He would decide when he wanted to play with the blue ball which he dug his teeth and grrr-ed into when he didn’t get his way.
There have been many stories over the last 14 years. After Pluto, another dog of the same colour, Gin was the one I was most attached to. We have had dogs all my life. But we got Gin just when I was starting to be a teen, with all the growing pains of that age. He was the one I always hugged after a fight with ma or when I had had a tough day. It always felt better. He has exasperated us for long; we were never supposed to leave him alone at home if we didn’t want something destroyed. Over the years, he chewed up two pillow and spread the cotton all across a room, broken a piece of the door, chewed up all the window stoppers in my room, torn curtains and driven my maid up the wall. But he was always forgiven, always given an equal share in all snacks and some more, thanks to those melting puppy eyes.
The only consolation, if it can be called that, was that we didn’t have to put him down, like the vet had advised us to. We would have had to do so in a few days, that was how poorly he was. I don’t think I could have lived down the guilt of agreeing to that. The other consolation was that I was here at home. Last night, when I went to pat him, he couldn’t open his eyes, but he had sniffed my fingers. He died with my dad cradling his head this morning.
We buried him under the jackfruit tree in the estate behind the house. He would have liked it there. The place is full of tall trees, the sun doesn’t burn down and not many crows come by for him to growl them away. That is the kind of place he, the brat, would have chosen to sleep on hot summer afternoons.