On Monday I published a post about Ginger, the pet who tugged hardest on our heart strings. If you missed it, check it out (here). There was more to the story. I wasn’t present when the events of this tale unfolded, but Mrs. Chatterbox filled me in on the details.
It was 1997. Our beloved pet Ginger, who’d lived with us for nearly ten years, had been put to sleep when her organs shut down two years earlier. Mrs. C. was shopping at Macy’s. After entering the lingerie department and browsing through a few racks, she spotted an uncomfortable looking man, fidgeting while holding what was presumably his wife’s purse. Mrs. C. isn’t in the habit of looking at strange men (unless they’re first-string firemen in the grocery store.) According to Mrs. C., the man looked familiar, very familiar, but she couldn’t place him.
Mrs. C. has a terrific memory when it comes to faces. She’s the one who should have been a portrait painter. She browsed through the department, her eyes constantly glancing at the man. When she figured he’d become aware of her attention, she approached. “Do I know you? You look awfully familiar.”
“Do you live on Allen Street?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“Do you shop at the Albertson’s on Hall Boulevard?”
Another headshake. “Where do you work?” she asked.
“The Portland Animal Shelter.”
Mrs. C. told me she suddenly remembered where she’d seen him before. “I’m sure you don’t remember, but twelve years ago my little boy and I were at the shelter, the day after Thanksgiving. We were all set to adopt a purebred golden retriever but you guided us over to a cage where a dog had been waiting nine days to be adopted. The dog was going to be euthanized that evening. You told us she might not look like much but she was a very good dog and we’d never regret adopting her. We took your advice.”
Like I said, I wasn’t there, but it’s easy to think he suspected the dog he’d recommended hadn’t worked out, that Mrs. C. had been festering over it all these years and was still unhappy about it, intent on giving him an earful. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
“You were absolutely right about that dog. She was more of a soulmate than a pet. We loved her dearly, up until two years ago when her kidneys failed.”
“I remember you and your little boy.”
Mrs. C. later told me she thought he was just being polite. C’mon, in twelve years he must have helped thousands of people pick out dogs and cats. It was inconceivable he remembered them. She was shocked when he added, “I recall you didn’t even have a leash with you to bring the dog home. Your little boy wanted to use his belt as a leash, but instead we lent you one to walk the dog to your car.”
Evidently, this was all true.
“I want to thank you for guiding us to Ginger,” Mrs. C. said. “She was a wonderful dog, a marvelous companion.”
He grinned. Perhaps he wasn’t accustomed to being thanked for his efforts to blend animals with families. “There was just something about that dog,” he said. “She wasn’t the prettiest dog we ever took in but it was plain she had a huge heart.”
I’m sure Mrs. C. could have stood there for hours telling “Ginger” stories, how Ginger was always underfoot during gift giving occasions, how we’d gotten into the habit of placing the sticky bows on her head until she had a permanent sticky spot between her pointed ears. But the man’s wife had emerged from the fitting rooms. He said goodbye and departed with her.
Yes, Ginger had been a very good dog. As for the man who delivered her to us, I never laid eyes on him. Like Mrs. C., I would have thanked him for the guidance that brought so much affection and entertainment into our family.
He was a very good man.
Ginger and CJ (1985)
Follow my blog with Bloglovin