Walking down memory lane

I have been sharing a disjointed and possibly skewed stroll down memory lane in my “Roger” series. It is said that we remember those events with the most meaning and impact to us. Unfortunately for me, those events have more often than not revolved around injury because of their lasting marks. However, while I take this walk, I remember more of those “little” things often forgotten. For example, this morning I remembered a non-injury story–at least not to me! It’s the typical story of a boy and his dog I suppose. I live in a family of cat lovers, but this story is one of many illustrating why I am a dog person.

A boy and his dog

The dog was my first–named Ginger. Mom and Dad brought ginger home when I was a mere infant. I’m told that she was born a few weeks before me. In those days, mom and dad were still furnishing their new house, so I slept in a laundry basket for several months. When they brought Ginger (a pure-bred German Shepherd) home, she slept in the basket with me. From day one, she was my protector–always by my side. In a way, this may be why I was the dog lover between Mike and I–he never got the chance to bond with Ginger like I did.

Ginger always seemed to be my dog even though all of the early training was handled by others. Mom and Dad probably have many more memories because of my extremely young age. However, I always do remember Ginger being right there beside me. She was my best friend and confidant. (Dogs don’t share your secrets!)

The bite

Claims of Ginger bites came in all the time from neighborhood kids. They thought she was an aggressive dog. This couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the stories remember from my childhood was of the abuse that Ginger took from those same kids. The neighborhood kids tormented her relentlessly as a puppy. They would stand outside the fence and throw rocks at her–until dad caught them. The neighbor’s dog also would come on the property (before the fence) and pick fights with her.

All of these things caused her to become highly protective of her property and her family. I remember watching her walk the property line even without the fence. She NEVER strayed from the property as long as intruders stayed out. One incident occurred when the neighbors dog came in the back yard while I was playing. Ginger went after the other dog and kept going. She chased that dog almost a mile from the house before she came back and resumed watch. (The other dog came back a day or two later I think and never crossed that line again).

This leads me to the memory I wanted to share. On a particular day, I woke from a nap while mom was on the phone. With Ginger in tow, I looked out into our garage and saw a boy. (I was 7, he was probably 14) He looked nice enough, so I opened the door and it happened! The boy took one look at Ginger, threw up his arms and Ginger was off. She chased him out of the garage, out into the driveway and off the property. However, before he got off of the property, she had bit him at least once in a cushioned posterior place.

The aftermath

Several hours later, after dad got home, a county sheriff pulled up into our driveway. The boy’s parents had called him. The sheriff told us that he had come to put Ginger down. Now, my dad’s temper really came out and told him to get off off of the property. Knowing how touchy this situation could be, the officer calmed dad down. Told him that it was SOP for a bite like this. So, dad gave him a rundown on how Ginger had been trained, the treatment that she’d received and her temperament. Within a few minutes, the officer was in the back yard playing with Ginger in fact.

The problem is that this particular boy was an instigator in the rock throwing years before. Ginger remembered and protected me from a bully. After the bite and during the chase, Ginger stopped at the property line. She did NOT pursue him down the street as she very well could. Rather, she was sending a message: Stay away from me and my family! After meeting her, the officer understood. He checked all of her papers and determined that she was not a menace. He then stopped at the boy’s house and informed him that he better stay away or he’d be bitten again. Instructed him in what NOT to do to another person’s dog!

A DOG person

Like I said, I’ve always been a dog person. We’ve never had overly aggressive dogs, but they have protected us. Our breeds have been Ginger, a sheltie, a beagle mix, another German Shepherd mix, collies, border collies, huskies, lab mix, etc. A dog doesn’t have to be a vicious killer to be a good guard dog. Sometimes they just need to alert you to potential danger. Even the most gentle dog though can protect when needed (ie Duke–my most gentle dog ever). Unfortunately, mistreatment early in life can come back to bite them in the future–as with us.

That’s my memory of the day…but more on Ginger to come!

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