Ginger - A Lover NOT a Fighter
by Carie Broecker
Ears back, tail tucked, and scared to death. Ginger was shut down. She didn’t or couldn’t acknowledge her surroundings or the people trying to help her. None of us will know the pain, suffering, or terror that Ginger had endured in her formative months and years. She was a “Vick Dog”—one of the dogs seized from the illegal dogfighting ring financed by NFL player, Michael Vick.
The case was highly publicized in 2007 when the dogfighting ring was discovered, and many of the sordid details of abuse were reported, so I won’t describe here what went on. Suffice it to say, we know that Ginger was at the very least exposed to the sounds, sights, and smells of dogfighting, horrendous abuse, and executions. Whether she was being trained to fight, used as bait, or being used to produce puppies is her secret alone.
As with many of the dogs rescued from this living hell, Ginger did not know how to be a dog, but she had the ability to learn and to be rehabilitated. She just needed the place to do it and a loving, patient person to help her along.
In 2007, Stacy Dubuc was on the staff, in the fundraising department, at the SPCA for Monterey County. She also volunteered to walk shelter dogs on the weekends. She was drawn to the big, bouncy, dogs who had no training. The first dog she fell in love with was a Pit Bull who was very affectionate and just wanted to be loved.
Stacy told the behavior trainer at the SPCA that she would like to foster a Pit Bull. Little did she know that just a few days earlier three of the Vick Pit Bulls had arrived at the SPCA for rehabilitation. For legal reasons, their whereabouts were kept confidential.
The trainer had just the dog for Stacy—Ginger, the terrified, shut down pittie girl.
When Stacy met Ginger her first thought was, What kind of Pit Bull is this? She is so small and scrawny. Ginger was just under two years old, and so far her life had been nothing but trauma and endless fear.
Stacy was coached to set up a crate so Ginger would have a place to retreat to and feel safe. In the beginning, Ginger spent almost all her time in her crate with the door open. She was always watching Stacy intently with a look of both fear and curiosity.
Ginger and Stacy spent day after day, night after night, being in each other’s company. Progress was measured in small steps—accepting being hand-fed, sitting next to Stacy on the couch for short periods of time, and spending a little longer outside her crate. Finally, after two months, she wagged her tail for the first time!
After five months, Ginger and Stacy went to a six-week basic training class at the SPCA. For most of the sessions they just sat in the corner and watched. In the beginning, just being asked to sit was overwhelming for Ginger, but little by little she improved.
Fortunately, Stacy was able to take Ginger to work with her for continued socialization, which helped her to connect with people other than Stacy.
A big breakthrough for Ginger was when Stacy moved in with a roommate who also had a dog. Having another dog around to model normal behaviors for Ginger helped her in ways no human could.
Ginger and Stacy have now been a family for five years, and Ginger is a well-socialized, well-trained, happy dog. She no longer needs a crate to hide in and now sleeps nose to nose with Stacy, each basking in the other’s love. Ginger enjoys meeting new people and new dogs, and taking long walks on the local recreation trail. Big crowds rarely bother her, although the sound of a lot of dogs barking still makes her nervous.
Ginger has her own Facebook page with 4,000+ adoring friends and fans who delight in each joyous day she lives. Even when her post is as simple as a photo of her napping, her fans are quick to click the “like” icon. Follow Ginger’s happy life at www.facebook.com/SweetGingerGirl.