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Our Christmas with Ginger: Eat, Pray, Love


I think dogs are the most amazing creatures. They give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.  Gilda Radner 

Nothing quite prepared us for our first Christmas with Ginger. Those of you who have been following our blog know that Ginger, our little cocker spaniel entered our lives rather dramatically last Spring. Like the proverbial guest who came to dinner, she stayed  and became part of our family and captured our hearts in very short order.

The transition from perplexed pup, quite bewildered at having been suddenly beamed into the home of relative strangers to beloved and inseparable  member of the family, happened relatively quickly .

But the subtle lessons in life  she taught us , came to us like the gift of the Magi at Christmas time.

I call this the Eat, Pray, Love formula of Gingers existence.

In the beginning, she found that although the natives were friendly, they were quite completely clueless in the ways of communicating with and looking after a dog.

Ginger undertook the onerous task of training us like the intelligent and resourceful puppy that she is. Never complaining, always gentle and quiet, she demonstrated extreme patience in all of her dealings with the dense human beings assigned to her care.

Consistent behavioural cues given in conjunction with predictable outcomes as a result of our failure to grasp what was being said, quickly got her the results she sought to achieve. What was amazing was she never gave up on us. She took a few rest breaks but persisted doggedly (pun intended!)  in different ways  until the light finally dawned on us!

We learnt to respond to her unshifting gaze when she needed to be taken out to answer natures calls , to an exuberant backward tap dance on her dainty hind legs when all she needed was for us to spend time with her or take her for a quick romp in the fields chasing squirrels, to a quick Disney cartoon character like lip smacking when she was hungry and needed to be fed.


Ginger loves cheese, carrots, maple cookies, peanut butter balls and chicken. She was brought up on people food by her previous owners and we have gradually transitioned her to 50 percent good quality kibble and 50 percent nutritionally  balanced cooked lean beef, rice and  and vegetables . To me her healthy appetite represents her interest in all things physical. The joys of eating outshadow any troubles the day might bring.

She might limp home painfully after a romp in  fields full of burrs and prickly thorns. But one glance at her food dish or at a proferred treat and her tail starts wagging like a propeller. She puts aside her discomfort and enjoys the brief  joyful distraction that food always brings to her life. At the same time. she is amazingly never greedy. When she has had her meal, she has no further inclination for treats.

It has become my magic mantra- when all else fails, there is always still dinner to look forward to at the end of the day and it offers a final chance  to be successful at something! Live in the moment and enjoy what the moment brings. After all , we all need to eat – it happens every day- we may as well enjoy it!

Christmas to most of us means big family meals, eating familiar festive foods and sharing the warmth and comfort of traditions that make us feel connected. This nourishes the relationships as much as food and the act of eating nourishes our bodies. Ginger had a specially prepared grilled Angus steak  while we shared the traditional Turkey and trimmings with our family and friends.

Eat with Joy, but do it in moderation.


I often wondered how an intelligent dog can pass the hours of the day in what appears to be endless and utter boredom, in silent and patient anticipation of outings to break the monotony of her day. Often when I am lost in work, she sits quietly in silent companionship at my feet,  jumping up insistently only when she needs a walk in a hurry at which time she taps us with her golden paws if we fail to respond to her commands immediately. When all else fails she goes into the bathroom and peers out anxiously at us.

With such intelligent resourcefulness  in her communication with people who do not speak  her language, I wondered how she endures the solitude and quietness of her day. And then I understood. What appeared to our restless lives to be boredom, was to her, simply quiet time to balance the exertions of her outings.

A time to watch us with loving eyes and to pray for our welfare. She can see when we are stressed with work and she can do nothing to help us out in the ways we think we need help, all she can do is to settle down calmly to pray for us with her innocent little doggy heart.

It took me a while to make the connection. But I eventually observed that anything I confided in her, especially my worries or concerns, was followed by a quiet thoughtful near slumberous meditative silence – which is how our Ginger prays. What almost always follows, in very short order is a solution to my concerns. I can only believe it is what Ginger prays for. She has a certain mystical spiritual innocence about her that brings about results  much quicker than all our agitations and worrying can.

And so I learn from our little Christmas Angel, that sometimes it is better to take a step back and to let go. And in doing so, the worries fade away  and solutions begin to miraculously appear.After all, to nourish our spirit and our souls, all we need to do is to pray to God.


The flurry of activity just before Christmas of wrapping up last minute work as well as last minute presents, of putting up Christmas decorations and of putting up with each other as we moved furniture, cleaned the house and endlessly got on each others nerves. Inevitably there were some heated arguments and immediately a soft golden presence swiftly shows up, standing on her hind legs with one paw on each of us that makes us instantly calm down to speak gently to soothe her and we behave calmly again and speak rationally with each other again..

Ginger does not like us to fight – Thou shalt not fight , especially not at Christmas time. Peace on Earth !

On Christmas day after dinner Ginger took ill very suddenly and without warning. There was blood everywhere and we rushed her,  panic stricken, to the Emergency clinic. They admitted her and had to keep her for two days under observation.

The bills were huge and we were shocked and quite unprepared for them. Being without pet insurance, we were taken aback, but incapable of refusing medical help for our beloved little dog. However, our decision was unanimous- this was a little dog we love and she is in pain and we will do whatever it takes to take care of her. Money is just an enabler to ensure the welfare of our loved ones.

Ginger has taught us to put love first and to let the heart dictate our choices. And she was right- in two days we were able to bring her home. It was nothing more serious than a nasty side effect of some medication our regular vet had prescribed and failed to inform us about.  Our Ginger was well again and better and friskier than ever.

We all anticipate presents at Christmas and the commercialization of the shopping season surpasses the spirit of Christmas.  Getting Ginger back, hale and hearty, was the best Christmas gift ever!!

Love is the tie that binds family and friends and their health and well being are more important than any gift that money can buy !

After all we all need each other to give meaning and significance to our lives.

How did you spend Christmas with your four footed family members and what gifts did they bring you? How does the Eat, Pray, Love formula work for you?

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Categories : Personal Stories


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