Why Ginger Is a Good Name for More Reasons Than One

Ginger at my feetI am not a talented speller. Spelling is not “my gift” as I like to say. S versus C, two Ls versus one,  E versus I or A or O. That neutral, yet deceptive sound known as schwa, usually in the middle of the word, is the worst. It is evil. How could it not be when it is represented with an upside down ə? I make a first stab at the spelling by penning the word on the back of a junk mail envelope. I stare at my attempt. Imagining substitutions here or there, I scribble three or four samples. In the past, I would resort to consulting one of my many dictionaries. I am nothing if not aware of this embarrassing failing, and own no fewer than ten. For Christmas in my twenty-eighth year, my parents bought me an unabridged Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. It resided in a place of honor on my desk at work. When in need of a break from editing software training manuals, I would peruse a page of words found at random. All of the other editors were jealous, I think.

Anyway, nowadays, I finally resort to typing my frustration in a blank MS Word document.  At times I become so befuddled that my attempt isn’t even recognizable to the spellchecker. The suggestions are so far off the correct meaning that they make me laugh. Recently, the suggestions for emanate ranged from emirate to germinate.

When asked by someone how to spell a given word, I have been known to chuckle. Not at that person’s confusion.  No, not at all. In fact, my empathy is at its peak at such times. Rather, I laugh at the idea that someone would actually trust me to spell anything, especially out loud. My mother can do so extremely fluently. In fact, she spells words so melodiously that my brain can’t keep up as I frantically try to transcribe the letters in the correct order. My son is also an excellent speller. Once many years ago I asked him how to spell elephant while we were driving thru downtown.  He did so, correctly and out loud while strapped in his car seat. Shown up by my five-year-old. Fabulous.

So why am I such a genetic deviant when it comes to spelling the English language? Do so few people really share my disability? Or do they just hide it better? Is there something wrong with my brain anatomy? It’s not that I haven’t worked hard to overcome my problem. Countless consultations later and I can finally spell words like separate and definitely without having to look them up.  So I have become a better speller. Or at least I know when not to trust my instincts. Being aware of this shortcoming helps me appreciate precision in my work. I double-check everything just to make sure.

What does all of this whining have to do with Ginger, the dog, you might ask? Not much, except that she has a very easy-to-spell name, unlike our parakeet, Cinnamon (damn those schwa sounds) and the late zebra fish, Agamemnon (what was I thinking?), and our runaway cockatiel, Commodore. Two Ms or one? O or A? Give me an envelope. Oh crap.

On How Food Bowls Can be Evil

The Bowl of MalevolenceYesterday we brought home our new dog, Ginger. She is a red (obviously) cockapoo, whose parents have enormously complicated AKC registration names that read like song lyrics. Her hair is the same color as my eldest child’s. I’d like to claim this color coincidence serendipitous, but I cannot. In fact, on Facebook, a friend insinuated that she is my third child. To which I had to admit guilt, although begrudgingly. The redheads in the household now outnumber the brunettes. (Very cool.) And everyone is home.

You see, my second child left for college last September. And the house was very empty. No matter how much I read about being an empty-nester and all the recommended coping mechanisms, nothing quite prepared me for their absence. The beds stayed perpetually made, and there were no more empty boxes of Cheez-Its discarded carelessly under them. Retail therapy at local consignment shops helped for a couple of months as did my new-found addiction to spinning, but it was a hard semester.

But I digress a bit from the point of this post, which is, of course, about Ginger. At only eight weeks, she has shown herself to be already house-trained and crate-trained. By the grace of God, she even slept through on her first night—eight straight hours. No secret puddles of pee have appeared in the corner of the room. And no nose-wriggling, foul presents have been deposited under the table. Just so you don’t think that I think I have somehow happened upon the best, most well-adjusted, and easy-to-train puppy ever, I will disabuse you of that notion now. She has a couple of quirks. First, she wants to be next to one of us ALL the time. A part of her body must be touching a part of my or another family member’s body whenever she isn’t running around outside. (Not so bad. A quirk she will most likely outgrow once she become more emotionally mature.) Second, she is AFRAID of her food bowl. She will not eat from it. In fact, she will not go near it. She will go out of her way to avoid walking by it. Interestingly, she is not afraid of her water bowl. They are exactly the same. I bought them both at the local mega-pet store for a couple of dollars each. Made of ceramic and weighted well with a cute doggy-themed logo on the side, they seemed like the perfect choice.

I thought I had considered nearly every contingency. I bought the dog food, the brushes, the dental chews, the enzyme cleaner, the bitter spray (to deter chewing), the toys, the treats, the kennel, the doggy bed, the leash, the dog collar, and the customized doggy tag with her name and our address. She has her first appointment for the vet booked, and I even purchased and read several books on dog training. I have planned several visits from friends to help socialize her, and am educating myself on how to keep her healthy.

So, how could I have anticipated this? Each of her meals (a few bits of kibble) has been eaten directly from my hand. “How hard can it be to convince her to eat from her bowl,” I thought. A la Hansel and Gretel, I tried a trail of kibble leading to the bowl to no avail. I tried balancing kibble on the edge of the bowl. I tried putting my hand full of kibble directly in the bowl. She took one bite from my hand when it was in the bowl until she detected my ruse, and then quickly withdrew. Super premium (at least according to the package) training treats placed in the bowl have not induced her to eat from it. The bowl is something to be avoided at all costs. Evil emanates from the bowl in her eyes; consequently, she looks at me suspiciously every time I encourage her to overcome her fear.

We are only on day 2 of her being part of our family. I have confidence that she will learn to love mealtimes. In the meantime, I plan to shop for a new bowl.