To my dog G.

Chapter 1. Ginger

       Cathy lived in a small town with her mom and dad. With many other children she
spent the day at a kindergarten where she had many friends – boys and girls like
herself with whom she played games. However, every day when the time came to return
home, she was sad; she wanted to romp even more. However, to run about alone is so
dull. One needs a friend for this, a good friend and a friend for good.
       All Cathy’s friends had brothers or sisters and some even had a dog… She asked
her parents many times when she would have a sister or a brother but they always
replied she had to grow up and then, maybe…
       - If you do not want me to have a brother or a sister then, would you buy me a
dog? – asked the girl one morning.
       - You are too young for a dog as well, - said her mother. – Why don’t you go to the
dog show with your dad today? You’ll see – everyone will tell you how hard it is to have
an animal in the house.
       Cathy was delighted and right after breakfast they went to dog show. She enjoyed
everything, admired every dog there but she especially liked one little puppy.
       The puppy was red all over, his ears were soft and long and his muzzle was very
cute. He was so little, beautiful and also so defenseless and silly. The puppy’s mother,
who had several medals on her neck, was sitting beside him carefully clapping him
down with her paw every time he started to get too wild.
       Cathy and her dad spent a long time walking around and learning about many dog
breeds. She wanted to see the cute puppy again on their way back but he was gone,
only his mother was sitting there looking very sad.
       - Daddy, where did the puppy go? – asked Cathy.
       - Sweetie, he is a son of the champions. Someone has bought him , such a good
dog. He is a cocker spaniel, a wonderful breed. Such dogs are very kind and devoted.
Besides, this is a hunting breed – agile and strong, they are also fast runners. – replied
her father.
       Cathy did not know what hunting was, but she knew how much she wanted such a
dog. Or any dog at all just to be her friend. She would walk him around, look after him
and feed him. Her dog would see her to school and meet her when she returns home.
Her dog would sleep in her room on a special mat. They would play together and her
dog would be her closest friend.
       - Daddy, please, buy me a dog. I don’t have brothers or sisters, daddy, please,
pleaaase, buy me a dog, I need it so much. – wept Cathy.
       - My darling, I can buy whatever you want. Only let us ask mommy first. – said her
dad and was right to propose it.
       Cathy’s mom refused to buy a dog.
       - You are too little. You don’t even go to school. We have to look after you, not
some dog that you want. Do you know how difficult it is to have a dog? Grow up first,
and then we’ll see...
       Cathy cried all evening long. In the morning, her dad brought a cage covered with
a white cloth.
       - What is it, daddy? – Cathy was surprised.
       - Open it and see for yourself, – answered her dad.
       Cathy came to the cage. Strange sounds were coming out from it as if someone
was clutching the iron bars with small claws.
       - Go on sweetie, open it.
       Cathy pulled the white cloth away from the cage. A big brightly colored parrot was
looking at her with round eyes.
       “Good morrrrning! School perrriod! Hurrrry!” slowly and distinctly said the parrot.
       - Daddy, what bird is it? – Cathy was surprised. – Why can it speak? Birds do not
speak, I know that. They told us.
       - This is a talking parrot I bought yesterday for you. We decided with your mommy
you would not be lonely with him. You must feed him fresh seeds and change his water
every day. In less than a year, you go to school and he will wake you up on time. Take
the cage to your room now, sweetie. I hope you like him.
       Cathy could not think of any answer, as she did not want to upset her dad. “I
wanted a dog and not some talking parrot.” she thought. However, aloud she said:
       - Thank you, I like the parrot. But... when will you buy a dog?
       - Soon. – Answered her dad. – First you grow up a little...
       - I know this “soon”, - sighed Cathy. – It will not come soon at all.
       - It will come by all means, - Her mother intervened. – And now go to your room.
You have a new friend, show him his new home.
       And so Cathy got a new friend – parrot John. He was a grand bird who looked at
everyone patronizingly and always said “School perrrriod, hurrry!”.
       Of course, Cathy became attached to the funny bird and took care of him but the
parrot spent almost all his time in the cage. Cathy could not play with him and still
dreamed of a dog.

       Two years passed and Cathy was already going to school. One clear fall day she
decided to return home from school taking the long road because she wanted to gather
some yellow leaves for her collection.
       Therefore, she went to the old park. Humming her favorite tune, Cathy began to
gather the leaves and became so engrossed that at first she did not hear the strange
sounds coming from behind an old pine tree. Cathy stopped and listened.
       Someone was whimpering nearby. She ran closer and saw a dog – no, not a dog,
a small puppy. And a wonderful one! He also saw Cathy and rushed to her wagging his
tail and flapping his paws up and down.
       They started to play together. Cathy ran and the puppy pursued her around and
then she threw pine cones and the puppy found and nibbled them. After that, Cathy fell
down in the grass and the puppy jumped over her barking happily.
       So they played for a long time.
       - All right, pup, good-bye, - said Cathy. – I am already late, mommy is probably
worried about me now.
       But the puppy did not want Cathy to leave. He snapped her shoe and did not let
       - Pup, cutie, I like you so much but I must go. I see, you don’t want to be alone, do
you? You are scared and maybe hungry, right? – asked Cathy and stroked the puppy. -
Hey, do you have a home? You have no place to go? Or, maybe, you are lost?
       The puppy licked Cathy’s hand almost as if he wanted to say “Don’t go, don’t leave
me here alone”.
       Only now Cathy had a good look at him. The puppy’s red fur was fluffy and thick;
he had long ears, short tail and strong legs. Overall, he was very much  the one at the
dog show Cathy admired so much.
       - Your name is Ginger! - exclaimed Cathy suddenly. – Yes, right, how didn’t I
guess that? You are mine now and I will not give you to anybody. Let’s go home. I will
talk to mommy, you’ll see...
       So, Cathy carried the puppy home. She slipped past the kitchen and inside her
       - Stay here for a while, I’m going to get something to eat. – whispered Cathy with a
mysterious air.
       She washed her hands and ran to the kitchen.
       - Mommy, I’ll eat in my room today, ok? – She asked politely, grabbed the plate
and disappeared even before her mom could give any permission at all.
       - Try to keep yourself clean, - mommy said.
       The puppy was so hungry he wolfed down the chop in no time and barked loudly
asking for more.
       - Ginger, not so loud, mommy will hear and I have to prepare her first, see? – The
girl tried to explain.
       Too late – her mom was already in the door.
       - What is that? Where did you get this dog? I thought we agreed, no dogs yet. –
She said sternly. - Also, you have John.
       - Mommy, he has no place to live, he is lost. Please, let him stay. Look how cute he
is. – Cathy tried to persuade.
       - I said no and that means no. If he has no place to live then we should find him a
new home. And we will not keep him here.
       - Mommy what are you going to do? – asked scared Cathy. – Whom do you want
to give him to?
       - You will see. And now, would you mind getting down to your homework. – These
were her mother’s last words when she left the room.
       Mom called someone on the phone and talked for a long time. It was evening and
after feeding Ginger and brushing her teeth, Cathy went to bed.
       The puppy settled down on her bed rug. Cathy lovingly stroked him and patted his
ears. The girl hoped her mom would love Ginger just like she did.
       - Everything’s going to be all right, pup, we’ll be together. – She whispered. –
Sleep now.
       A week passed. The puppy lived with Cathy and she already believed that was
how it would be forever.
       He knew his name and darted to Cathy every time she called him. He even
stopped barking at the parrot, although John was clearly not very happy about the
merry dog that was after his little mistress’ heart.

       Once, having returned from the school, Cathy opened the door of her room and
there was nobody to meet her barking happily. There was only John who muttered “Hi
therrrrrre, hi therrre.”
       - Ginger! Hey, Ginger! Where are you? Where are you hiding, come over here. I
am home, let us go somewhere. – Cathy called loudly.
       Only silence. No response from Ginger.
       - Maybe you are stuck somewhere and cannot come free? Ginger, I am going to
look now! – The girl exclaimed.
       Cathy searched every inch of the house. She looked for Ginger in the kitchen and
in the wardrobe and under the sofa. He disappeared.
       - Where is my puppy? – She asked when her mom returned from shopping.
       - Listen now, Cathy. You are big enough to understand that we cannot afford to
keep a dog. A dog needs attention and quite often there is nobody at home. Also, when
Ginger is grown up, he will become very big and strong and can even break the leash.
He needs lots of attention. I told you I would give him to good people. You know, I work
with mister Kaiser. He and his wife live alone, they are kind and affectionate people. So,
they agreed to take the puppy and even to keep his name. Cathy, please, realize it is
for the best. Don’t worry, sweetie, Ginger will be fine.
       Mommy kept on explaining something but Cathy was not listening anymore.
       She rushed to her room, threw herself on the bed and cried loudly. She had been
weeping for such a long time she did not notice falling asleep.

       Mister and Mrs. Kaiser had a big house. It had three floors, an attic, a basement, a
garage and a big piece of land. Everything was well groomed, green and smelled fresh.
       Cathy’s mom told the truth – Ginger really liked it here. Small and silly, he naively
expected Cathy to return for him by all means. He did not even think about not seeing
her again.
       The very first day the spaniel’s new masters took him to a vet. The doctor
vaccinated the puppy and gave some recommendations for looking after him. Ginger
could not grumble about his fate – the Kaisers were kind people and loved him dearly.
He had everything to be happy about – space to play, good food and care.
       The Kaiser’s daughter sometimes visited them on the weekends. She had twin four-
year-old boys.
       They enjoyed pulling Ginger’s ears and tail and even tried to ride him like a horse.
Naturally, Ginger was not very pleased with that but out of respect for his masters he
patiently put up with all their grandchildren’s pranks.
       To be fair, though, one should admit that sometimes the time was better with kids
than alone. The three of them rolled in the grass, played ball and hunters. Nick and
Sam (these were the boys’ names) taught Ginger to retrieve sticks and to bark on
       Still, Ginger wanted to grow up, to become a big, strong and agile dog so that
mister Kaiser would take him to hunt.
       Several months passed and indeed, he participated in a hunt. The first time
Ginger did not understand too well what his master expected of him, but learned
everything quickly and knew precisely what to do. He carried the hunting bag, sniffed up
tracks and even could find and retrieve the game. Mister Kaiser was very pleased with
him and praised Ginger constantly.
       But there were times when he wanted to see Cathy once again, rush to her, lick
her nose and play as they played in the park when she had found him.
       Also, he did not tell Cathy how it happened that he was all alone in the park. He
could not tell the truth even if he was able to speak. They were being carried in a
basket - his two sisters, his brother and himself, but he did not want to go anywhere to
be sold. He wanted to be back home with mother, that’s why he simply jumped out and
ran. Running seemed to take him closer to his mother, but it was a long way and mother
did not come.
       So he had fallen asleep in the park, in the soft green grass under a big tree. And
woke up so hungry he tried to regale himself on a pine cone. That’s when Cathy found
       Cathy... “I don’t believe I will never see her again.” - thought Ginger. He did not
quite understand why the girl gave him away after her promise to stay forever. Life was
good for him, warm and cozy. But still he missed Cathy, thinking the girl with cornflower
blue eyes and funny freckles was his real mistress.

       Autumn came once again. One weekend the Kaiser’s went to visit their friends.
They stopped along the way at a big mall to buy some flowers and told Ginger to stay in
the car.
       He sat and watched sticking his head out of the car window. “My, my, where did all
those people come from? Everyone is buying something, everyone is in such a hurry.
What is the purpose of all this on such a fine day when one could simply walk around...”
thought Ginger. But then...
       It could not be true! He saw Cathy! She was with her parents carrying a big doll.
Then they got into a small car and closed the doors...
       “Cathy, hey Cathy, it’s me! It’s Ginger, I am here.” – Ginger started barking with all
his strength.
       The car with Cathy slowly moved out of the parking lot. “What can I do? I have to
see her. I want her to know I have not forgotten her. Cathy wait, don’t go. I am here.
Why doesn’t she hear?” – whined Ginger.
       All of a sudden, unexpectedly even to himself, he leaped out of the window of the
Kaiser’s expensive car and chased Cathy’s car that had already taken the curve.
       At first, he managed to keep pace with the car, as it did not go very fast. But soon
it came to a highway and trying as he might to run as quickly as he could, Ginger soon
lost it.
       He stopped for a moment to gain some breath. Then he lay down and his eyes
glistened with tears. “Cathy, I called you, why did not you hear me? Why did you go
away? What should I do now?” – he thought.
       In a few minutes, Ginger stood up on his strong paws. He looked around and but
for a single moment fear overcame him. “Where am I? Where is my house? Can I find it
now?” – he thought sadly.
       Ginger was strong and smart. “I will find my way home.” – he thought and trotted
back along the highway.

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