A Furry Angel Gained Her Wings

With heavy heart, I write to tell you about Ginger, our nearly-14-year-old Norwegian Buhund. Gingy had been part of our family since she was a mere two months old. She was our daughter’s dog, and the two of them have grown up together.

But age catches up with animals faster than it does us. In many ways, this seems unfair (I’ve done my share of wrestling with God on this point recently). They are, it sometimes seems, better people than we are. In particular, dogs are fur-covered love and give us a glimpse into God’s heart for us. They love unconditionally and want little else than to be with us.

Ally with Ginga-Bite-Us on the large ottoman Ginger subsequently destroyed

When we first met Ginger, she was a cute, but slightly odd-looking, little thing. She had crazy whiskers and a tongue that was too long. She also had razor sharp little puppy teeth, and she loved to chew and bite – so much so that one of her first nicknames was “Ginga-bite-us.”

The nicknames that stuck the most were BuBu (since Jax was Bu) and Itty Bitty (since she was so small when we got her). As, of course, did Gingy and Ging. I have a thing for making up nicknames, so she was also It Bit (if Itty Bitty felt too long) and sometimes It Da Bit. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but she didn’t seem to mind. She was just happy to hear us talk to her, no matter what we called her.

At one point, she managed to escape for a “great explore” that lasted a couple of days right at Thanksgiving. We were terrified we had lost her, but a local family found her and saw our lost dog signs. When they had first seen her, they thought she was a coyote, but they quickly brought her in. They named her Shortbread, which also seemed to fit. I think they were disappointed to find Ginger had a home to go back to, but we were beyond elated to have our little girl back home.

At the time we got Ginger, my Eskimo Spitz Shadow was getting old and grumpy. He was 17 and none too pleased we had brought in a puppy that constantly wanted attention from him. It was just too cute when Ginger decided the best way to snuggle with Shad was to slowly back her way into him while he was lying down and then curl up between his front paws. I think even Shad got a good laugh out of that one.

Ginger on the left, Jax on the right. They were not posed; they just always stay close to each other.

Gingy and her older brother Jax (just a year older) would have the most intense wrestling matches I’ve ever seen. They looked and sounded like they were trying to kill each other, but it was all in fun. I’ve since seen other Buhunds who behave the same way when they play, but it worried us at first.

The Buhunds twodling

Ginger and Jax have always been super close. They would often sleep snuggled up with one another when they were younger. Even as they aged, they’d often lie down or sleep touching in some way. And when they didn’t do that, they would often end up in the same angle and position, something we called “twodling.”

Gingy may have looked a little funny (but cute!) as a little puppy with her too-long tongue and crazy whiskers, but she grew into a beautiful little girl. You knew she was happy because she’d give you the cutest little tail flutter wag you’ve ever seen. And she did that little flutter wag quite often. It was one of her defining traits that garnered lots of attention from her many admirers.

She also loved to curl up in what we called her Arctic Fox position. With her pointy snout (Jax’s snout is a bit more squared), she did look a lot like a fox.

While Jax prefers to stay inside and make sure we don’t wander off and get lost, Ginger preferred to stay outside. She really enjoyed surveying her queendom from the backyard. She always looked very royal as she watched squirrels and birds. When she was a young dog, she would stalk them, and catch them more often than we’d really like. But she was the queen, so who were we to tell her she couldn’t hunt?

She is also the only dog I’ve ever known who wouldn’t even attempt to catch food. She was too regal to do dog tricks, although not too sophisticated to eat the treat off the floor after it bounced off her snout.

Gingy in her arctic fox pose

Gingy was cat-like, particularly in her younger years. She was a bit aloof, and she groomed herself. She wanted attention, but she wanted it on her terms. However, she always stayed close to Ally. As Ginger matured, she became a terrific cuddler. She loved to “hug” by rooting her head into your body and then just holding it there while you rubbed her. She gave great hugs.

She was always very interested in, and very gentle with, little kids. She loved getting to know someone new. Like her brother, she had to greet every person who came into her path. Guests could always count on having a small tap on their leg by Gingy’s nose just to say hi (we call that “being snouted”), but Ginger’s greetings were usually more gentle and considerate than Jax’s.

Ginger had a way of making everyone feel special. There is no doubt Ally was her special person. But there is also no doubt Maggie, Linda, Eric, and myself were also her special people. She made a habit of sneaking into Eric’s room to roll on his bed just to have his scent, and she always greeted him with excitement and asked him for a quick rub. She cuddled her way into Linda’s heart and welcomed her to our family, showing her unconditional love and trust. And, once Ally went to college, Ginger followed Maggie everywhere; they shared eggs in the morning and devotionals in the sunshine whenever possible. And Ging made sure to greet me every day when I got home from work. It’s hard to describe how much Gingy loved us. And she knew, without doubt, she was loved right back.

Without question, her favorite thing was being outside with all of us. She loved walks, and the more off the beaten path, the better. She enjoyed exploring new trails and checking on new scents. We knew were in crisis mode when, less than a week ago, Ginger quit on a walk and had to be carried home. But even then, we didn’t have any idea how bad things were. Until then, our only warning was that she was getting very picky about what she’d eat.


Ginger enjoyed a good life, and our lives are richer for knowing her and experiencing the joy of those soft brown eyes looking back at us with unbound love. Kidney and liver failure snuck up far too quickly. On the bright side, she didn’t linger and suffer long. But we were entirely unprepared for her rapid decline and departure from our lives.

We’re hurting, but she no longer hurts. And that is the part we can hold onto at this point. That and the memories of a life full of love, wags, snuggles, and a bit too much fur. And those soulful eyes.

Now, she’s gone on another great explore. We love you, Gingy, and we’ll always miss you, little girl.


Check Out My New Review Site: Love/Like/Hate

Some of you have already visited my new review site Love/Like/Hate. Thanks for stopping by! If you haven’t visited the site yet, please check it out. The URL is:


As a member of Blogging for Books, Best Buy’s Tech Insider Network (and top-50 review contributor), and Thousandshores Power Users, I frequently receive items for free – or at a substantial discount – to review. Consequently, I recently realized I spend a lot more time writing reviews than I do writing my normal blog entries, so it made sense to put all my reviews in one place. So I started the new site in March 2017. Of course, I also review items I purchase at retail.

I know when I’m shopping for a new item, I pay close attention to meaningful reviews; so I try to be diligent about making sure my reviews are actually helpful.

As of now, most of my prior reviews have been posted on the site. In fact, you’ll see some that were previously published here. Others were first published on Best Buy, and some others on Amazon. A few others were at other sites. My general plan going forward is to upload at least one review per day, so check back often for new content.

Anyway, I hope you find it useful. At the very least, it’s been a fun project for me.

You can also follow the “review version of me” on Twitter as @LLHReviews:

Sick Humor

So, I’ve been sick now for the past 5 or so days. It wasn’t so bad the first few days, but I reached a point where I felt absolutely miserable by Sunday afternoon. Since then, I’ve just been hoping to just get back to miserable. How bad is it? Well, here is a top-10 list of some of the worst symptoms:

  1. There is a very mean small man in the back of my throat with a machete. He is hacking it to pieces in there. I keep begging him to stop, but he ignores me.
  2. I’m not sure how they’re doing this, but through some sort of invisible reverse air pressure device, I am being forced to cough out more oxygen than I can physically take in. Everyone around me denies the existence of this device, but how else could you cough out more air than you breath in?
  3. Speaking of coughing out more air than you take it, every now and then, someone turns off all the lights, leaving me in the dark for a couple of seconds – even in the middle of the day. Actually, that’s usually just me closing my eyes. I close my eyes sometimes because it seems like the right thing to do when you’re about to pass out. No one has credited me with any style points for this, though, so I’m not sure where else to go with it. I should probably stop trying this one while driving.
  4. I think someone in there is trying to break a rib or two or twelve.
  5. In yet another amazing feat of engineering, those little guys attacking me from inside have found a way to make my throat feel like it is freezing while also feeling like it is on fire. These guys are sneaky mean.
  6. My skin, usually a pale, almost-translucent pasty color, looks like someone rubbed spaghetti sauce all over my face, neck, and head. Incidentally, my new superhero name is “The Red Splotch.”

    English: A bottle of Recipect® over-the-counte...
    Image via Wikipedia
  7. Another of those evil little hidden men has somehow managed to drive some sort of wedge into my shoulder blades. He is merciless.
  8. I thought I felt a bit like the walking dead, but then I realized walking hurt too much. So, now, I guess I feel mostly like the sitting dead. Or, more accurately, like the desperately-trying-to-avoid-a-cough dead. I don’t know why the dead should be so afraid of a cough, so I can’t really explain that to you. But we are. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
  9. Which reminds me: why are the dead called the undead in horror movies. I think maybe it was a translation error from Spanish. “Es una dead.” I dunno. Could be. I never was very good at Spanish.
  10. I’m getting quite proficient at making cocktails of all the different meds I’m trying. I figured I might as well just try them all at the same time and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t exactly remember what happened, but I was happy to see my phone didn’t contain video evidence of a series of misadventures. I think I just coughed more and blacked out for a bit. At least, that’s my story.
  11. Sleeping has become very passé. Only losers and healthy people sleep. Those among us who aspire to be the sitting dead just sit there, cough a lot, and – on rare occasion – cry a little. Oh, and we whimper when we think no one can hear us. Usually, they’re already deaf from the explosive coughing going on, anyway, so they’re not likely to hear much of anything.
  12. I have waking fantasies (not dreams, of course, because dreams only happen if you actually get to sleep) of not sounding like Bill the Cat from Bloom County. Ack! Thbbft!
  13. Maybe it’s not a machete. It sounds more like a chainsaw got stuck in my throat. I wonder what happens when it runs out of power. I bet that little jerk in there will just start using a rusty hacksaw or something. He’s evil, I tell you!
  14. I forgot how to count. This is starting to feel a little too short to be a top-10 list.
  15. My wife rejoiced that I couldn’t talk; not that she would have been able to hear me, what with the explosive coughing making her deaf and all. But she didn’t have to pretend to listen to me since talking felt about as good as trying to guzzle down a pint of molten lava. Yummy.
  16. Instead of the undead, maybe I’m more like the only-mostly-dead. You know, like Wesley, aka The Dread Pirate Roberts. Where’s Miracle Max when you need him? There are several hints in that movie. The albino could barely talk when he first tried to welcome Wesley to the Pit of Despair. The Six-Fingered Man promised that Wesley would suffer more than any other man ever had. That’s it! Count Rugen is behind all this; I should have known!
  17. Most food tastes like razor blades. Same for drinks. Pretty neat trick if you want to torture someone in a secret off-shore detention facility that shall remain nameless. Or maybe a despairing pit beneath a tree in Florin. Not such a neat trick when you’re sitting in the den and the kids ask if you feel any better – and you answer with a gurgling cough that sounds somewhat like Gollum just died inside you.
  18. Maybe it’s not the undead or the only-mostly-dead. Maybe it’s the dead Gollum. Well, maybe not; after all, if he were dead, would it really hurt that much to have him stuck in your throat? I dunno, but I doubt it.
  19. Speaking of Spanish, is soymilk really Spanish for “I am milk” ? That’s bothered me for a long time now. If you think about it, it makes sense. Those soybeans are trying to take over everything. I bet they’re responsible for this mess.
  20. You know how people groan when they reach maybe 180 years old? That’s how I groan when I try to move the slightest bit – at least, it is until I start coughing.
  21. The other night, I realized I was freezing so badly that I was sweating terribly. I’ve never been so cold it made me sweat before. I realize this may seem confusing; don’t worry about it. I think my core temperature was somewhere around 0 Kelvin while my outer shell pushed through the sun’s corona.
  22. Speaking of rap singers, I have decided my rap name will be “Intense Vanilla.” Wait, I think that was actually supposed be my wrapping name at the mall during Christmas. Sorry about that. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially when you’re coughing 28 hours a day (plus 14 more at night).
  23. I don’t know where 23 relates to a top-ten list, but the number resonates with me. It’s like, the number 23 and I, Michael Jordan, have somehow been linked together. Nah, that’s crazy. See? I must be really whacked-out sick.
  24. My lips are more cracked than the sidewalks by an abandoned Detroit factory, but I’m not going to tell you which one. You’ll have to guess.
  25. Rebound congestion is a failure of modern science. Why do they make medicine that makes a non-problem suddenly become a problem? I was coughing, so I took cough medicine. How is making my sinuses feel like someone just drove a monster truck up my nostrils going to help with that? Was the theory to get my mind off the coughing by making me feel miserable somewhere else? If so, you have drastically underestimated this cough, evil pharmaceutical industry! Take that. You can’t make me not feel miserable.

Ok, well, that’s enough of that. I appreciate you playing along with me. Please forgive the typos, as I typed this while I was blacked out from a particularly violent series of combustion coughs. But it’s ok; I did it on my smartphone while driving, so at least I didn’t waste any time. I’ve got quick thumbs. It only took, I dunno, 1032 years to write (thankfully, I finally got caught by a stoplight, or it may have taken even longer than the monkeys writing Shakespeare). Really, though, I had nothing better to do than try to suppress a few gazillion coughs.

To your health!

Younger Next Year?

A friend and I were talking about exercise a few months ago.  I told him exercise was a constant struggle for me.  I tend to prioritize many things ahead of taking care of my body.  At 42 years old, my lack of focus on health felt like it was starting to catch up with me.

He asked whether I had ever heard of the book Younger Next Year.  I had not.  He explained that a basic premise of the book was that you should view exercise as a job; since many men respond well to the responsibility of their job, part of the idea was to turn that focus onto personal health.  The idea was intriguing.

Jim loaned me the book, and I read it over the next couple of weeks.  The book encouraged at least 45 minutes of exercise a minimum of 6 days per week.  Ouch.  I was loafing along at 25  minutes or so 2-3 times per week (on a good week).  That was going to be tough.

As I read the book, I discussed the principles in it with my wife and kids.  We were all quite fascinated.  The book is written by a retired attorney (Chris Crowley) and a practicing doctor (Harry Lodge) and combines humor, practical insight, and medical knowledge in an easy-to-read format.

With the encouragement of Jim, who had loaned me the book, and the support of my wife and kids, I began to work out much harder and longer more consistently.  It took about 3 weeks to really get myself up to 45 minutes every day, but I made it a couple of months ago and have been there since.  I’m also eating healthier as a result of some recommendations in the book.  We’re trying to apply the lessons learned to our entire family, and the kids are surprisingly into it.

I have some quibbles with the book, of course.  They base a lot of their conclusions on theories of evolutionary function.   I am not an evolutionist, so I had to get past that.  Despite my disagreement with that aspect of the book, the conclusions made great sense.

My wife is very happy I’m getting in better shape.  I can outrun the kids again.  I can lift more weight.  I have more endurance.  I’m still not in the kind of shape I should be in, but it’s improving.  I haven’t lost much weight yet, which is a little disappointing, but it’s really not a weight-loss program.  It’s a better health and condition program.  I’m losing a little weight, and I think this is probably much better long-term than some sort of crash diet, anyway.

And while the immediate benefits are good, the book is really about the future health benefits as we age.  Their big idea is that regular exercise (coupled with eating well and investing yourself in something you care about) can help you age FAR more gracefully and keep you physically well into your 80’s or 90’s.  In other words, your health can (in many cases) get better as you age rather than worse.

Chris and Harry have a website, if you want to check it out.  I think it’s worth your time.