Genghis died this afternoon. He was hit by a car. I can’t stop crying.
Genghis was with us for almost four years, in our thoughts for five, and will be part of our hearts for a good deal longer.
He used to belong to our neighbours but could be found living on the street. We’d often see him lying around in the road or padding around the hood with fleas in his eyes. We would feel sorry for him and sneak him out some of Quince’s treats, and want to look after him if he was out in a storm. We ended up taking him in on March 4th 2004 during Operation Ginger Dog.
Poor little red dog had been picked up by DeKalb Animal Control and his owners had just signed him over. We were greatly upset when we heard this and raced to the pound to rescue our friendly neighbourhood mutt. It took a couple of tours of the crates before we spotted our little friend and I was so worried that something had happened to him already, but he was so nervous and confused he was backed up into a corner where we could hardly see him. Our joy at seeing our boy was deflated when we were told he couldn’t be adopted immediately but instead had to first stay in the pound for five days. We trustingly put our names down as adoptive parents and vowed to be back for him.
Four days later we knew our Ginger Dog was the luckiest dog in the world.
The day before we had arranged to adopt him I called the pound to check up on him and was frustrated to be told that I couldn’t get any information over the phone. Rudely I was told to come in the next day as instructed to ID him again. Bill picked up a collar at the pet store on the way home from work that evening, the plan being to drive to Animal Control first thing the next day so we’d be there when it opened and could lead Ginger to safety.
Imagine our surprise then when we were driving down our road and saw a neighbour walking her dogs, and trotting along with them was a very familiar hairy ginger beast. The neighbour obviously also had a soft spot for the mutt and had gone looking for him at Animal Control that day too. She was told that he was due to be euthanized that very evening unless she took him home. I am so mad to think that we’d have gone down the next day as agreed only to find him already dead if, despite not having room for an extra dog, she hadn’t rescued him immediately in hopes of finding him a family. Ginger’s story turned into a happy one when she found out that we were wanting to adopt him and give him lots of love, a warm home, a nice older doggy brother and a well fed tummy. We were overjoyed to have our Ginger safe and sound.
Once home Bill put his foot down about his name and Ginger became Genghis because Ginger is a girl’s name in the States and no one else would think he was a boy dog, much less Biggles’ best mate. He also got the nickname Gingernuts (a type of British biscuit akin to a ginger snap) as at that time (pre-snip) he had the biggest balls we’ve ever seen on a dog.
The poor boy turned out to be heartworm positive so we had him treated and got him through that nastiness. Once cured he was neutered and became Gingernonuts. We always hoped that that would help to cure his wanderlust but Genghis was a street dog at heart and that never ever changed. Through all his time with us he was constantly intent on escape. Genghis was a rogue and a scoundrel who would not be tamed.
If there was the slightest weakness in a fence he could find it. He tore straight through the “pet proof” screening on the front porch. He leapt through open windows. He clambered over the baby gate and even snapped an aerial cable dog run in two. He managed to prise open the back door once when the catch hadn’t quite caught. One time he pushed through the screening and escaped through the window in Sam’s room. I walked into the room to see Sam following his best friend and plummet out of the window after him. That resulted in a trip to casualty for Sam.
After each of his escapes he would always eventually show back up, generally covered in seeds and smelling like he’d rolled in a sewer, but he would never come home to us. Instead he would always return to the very neighbours who were incapable of looking after him and who gave him up to Animal Control. He didn’t understand. Ungrateful little mutt.
He would also grow wiser and more sneaky with each escape. At first we could tempt him back with a car ride but soon he would merrily scamper away from Bill and I and lead us a merry dance, while happily cavorting with anyone else he would meet.
He was a trying dog and we couldn’t take him anywhere. Even Camp Leslie wouldn’t let him visit after he started a peeing contest in their house amongst their dogs.
Many times we would curse our escapee but we could never do it to his face. We’re not sure what happened to him before we first met him, but the slightest swear word would send him into nervous shakes and I would find him curled up as small as could be, pressing against me as hard as he could.
He was the most affectionate dog you could hope for and he would often behave like a cat and rub up against your legs seeking attention and snuggles. Whenever I was alone in bed he would come and join me, snuggle right up close and give me lots of love in return for tummy tickles.
He would still lie down like a puppy with legs outstretched behind him. We would love it when he would do the butt dance and happily wriggle around on the floor while on his back.
Sam loved him a lot. “Gengee” was one of his first words, even before “mummy”. When Sam was still nursing I would lie back and tell Sam stories all about the adventures he and Genghis would have together. Genghis could make Sam shriek with laughter. Genghis was always camped out underneath Sam’s highchair and tickling his feet with his lush red hair.
Quince was also a great fan of Genghis, though he would hate to admit it. You could just see it in the way Quince would hump him and Genghis would gnaw on his leg.
I can’t believe we’ll never hear Genghis’ awesome howl ever again. Genghis was a bit of a singing dingo dog and had the most amazing mellow tuneful howl. We would gather around and have family howling sessions just to get to hear his beautiful voice.
This afternoon Sam and I went for a walk to Brownwood Park. I couldn’t take both dogs and the stroller so I was going to just take good dog Quince with us, but had a change of heart at the last moment. I felt sorry for Genghis and wanted to give him a bit of a treat and extra exercise as, being such a sneaky dog, he isn’t allowed the run of the back yard like Quince is.
It was a beautiful day, nicely sunny and we had a lovely walk to the park together. He caught up on all the pee mail and made friends with a loose dog whose owner then came driving past asking if we’d seen her. We met up with Bill playing tennis at the courts then headed over to the playground so Sam could have a run around.
Genghis was such a good dog and sat by the stroller watching. Sam would play on the equipment and then run back to give Genghis an unprompted hug or give him his ball to play with. It was great and I was so pleased I’d brought him. That is until he suddenly slipped out of his collar and took off out of the park.
I called Bill and we set off to find him as he was collarless and out of his neighbourhood. Driving in Richard’s car we almost caught him as he was tempted to jump in for a ride until he saw Sam and I in the back seat. He then hightailed it towards the busy Moreland Ave with Richard following him on foot, before we knew it he had excitedly run straight out into the heavy traffic and got clob
bered. Our poor gorgeous mutt was dead on the side of the road when we got to him. It was absolutely awful. All I could do was stroke that lovely greying muzzle and tell him how much we love him. Stupid, crazy, impossible dog.
Bill and Richard managed to wrap him up and bring him back home without Sam seeing. He’s now buried at the bottom of the garden in the woods he loved so much and we can’t stop hurting. We’re going to miss our little rogue so much.
Keep on running Gingernuts, it’s all you ever wanted to do.