All in the Family



Ginkgo only lived for ten weeks. I had him for only two, but I will never forget those 14 days, those 336 hours. I named him Ginkgo, because his big Papillon ears looked like Ginkgo leaves, and because he was magical. I also called him Gogo and Ginkydink and Ginkgo Biloba. While extremely precocious, he was still mostly just a baby. At night, I would hang my arm over the side of the bed and rest my fingers on his crate, so he could sleep knowing I was there. He never wanted to be alone, as if he knew he only had limited time. I know it is silly to think that. The last day Ginkgo stayed me, I spent the afternoon reading on our raised porch, with him always by my side. In retrospect, he was already sick. Tiring, at least. He lay down and rested his chin between the slats of the banister, dozing in the warmth of the sun and happily gazing down at the birds and squirrels and rotting crabapples below. He didn't move much, unless I called his name. That night I remember pressing his little chest to my ears, as he slept, to make sure that he was still breathing. At first, the vet told me it was kennel cough. I took him home. When he wasn't better the next day, feverish and stumbling, the very same man told me it was canine distemper. He said it was hopeless. Ginkgo had been up to date on all his shots, so it didn't seem fair. But puppies are fragile. Although I know the initial misdiagnosis really changed nothing, I somehow will never be able to forgive the vet for that extinguished hope. I rushed Ginkgo to the emergency clinic, where they put him in a big translucent box to help him breathe. He looked so helpless, yet peaceful, lying inside it. Before they put him to sleep in my arms, they make a print for me of his little paw. I framed in a black shadow box. It looked like a full moon. Lessons: 1) Ginkgo was adopted, but I sometimes question whether the shelter from which I got him was entirely reputable. 2) Keep your dog up to date on shots, not just for your family, but the sake of others. 3) Love your dog more every moment. Whether it's ten weeks or twenty years, their lives pass too quickly.

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February 2018
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