Lessons learned from my dog

Ginger is our four-year old wheaten terrier. She brightens our days, she's part of our family, and she's a great teacher:

* Gusto: Ginger commits fully, often with great joy. She absolutely loves the snow, diving in and burrowing until she's out of breath. We jog through deep snow, Ginger practically galloping.

* Patience, sort of: Ginger delights in stalking squirrels and bunnies (but is a bit scared of the prairie dogs along our morning route). On the occasions that she does tree a squirrel, she will sit at the base of the tree for as long as we'll let her, waiting and waiting.

* Healing journey: We adopted Ginger before her second birthday and quickly realized that she'd had quite a rough start. She was skinny-boney, her skin was in poor condition, and she was afraid of most strangers. With time, a lot of love, and good training, she gradually became more confident, more comfortable. She began to play - first with us, then eventually on her own, and now with others. When I think of her growth and her willingness to let go of past negatives, I'm inspired.

* Surprises, and life's unexpected: When we adopted Ginger, we had plans to adopt only her - that is, one dog, not one dog pregnant with 6 puppies!

* The importance of listening: Butchie, a German shepherd mix, was my first best friend. As a young child, I would sit on my haunches, telling Butchie all my stories and secrets. He always listened patiently.

* Joy: Scamp (my sister's dog) was a huge, happy black lab mix. In his elderly years, he kept his great attitude and joy, no matter the situation. He had lost most of his teeth, his eyesight, and his hearing. But, still happy. Still, his always-wagging tail.

* Boundaries: Roscoe was a malamute - German shepherd mix, and Leo was a strong, confident tabby cat. When Roscoe was just a puppy, he quickly learned boundaries from the elder Leo about expectations of behavior and, in fact, who ran the house (Leo, in case you weren't certain).

So, a big Thank You to our four-legged friends! You teach us so much about good living.

Ginger, our little hiker


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