Ginty gave us 15½ years of pleasure, from the moment she was born. Our children and grandchildren loved her and you could not have asked for a softer and more loving pet. We have enjoyed so many happy caravan holidays and long country walks with her and her mother. She introduced us to gundog training, something that we have continued with our Tollers. Unlike her mother Purdey, who loved all small furry animals, in her younger years Ginty was adept at catching rabbits and dispatching them with a single shake. The better specimens were sometimes taken home and cooked for her dinner.
Ginty was always the pack leader and ruled our other dogs firmly, but with almost imperceptible body language. They had great respect and would never have even considered challenging her. Even to her last days if a strange dog appeared amongst her pack, Ginty was instantly there, making it quite clear that she was in charge. Often, Janet used her as a ‘stooge dog’ when socialising unruly dogs and Ginty quickly showed them what behaviour was unacceptable in a way far more effective than any human trainer.
Ginty had one litter of puppies, which required a caesarean section and sadly several of the pups did not survive. We then had her spayed.
In her old age, Ginty suffered from painful and misshapen arthritic front paws. In recent weeks her discomfort appeared worse. She developed a nasty infection in one paw and suffered a number of digestive upsets. Her medication was changed to steroids and antibiotics and in the last couple of weeks she showed a noticeable improvement, seeming several years younger and much brighter and happier.
On Sunday 22 February 2015, I took all the dogs for a walk to Croxley Common Moor and was throwing a ball into the river for the Tollers to retrieve. Ginty, in her usual way, broke into a trot and headed straight into the river for a paddle – nobody was going to stop her. On arriving home Ginty planted herself in the kitchen and demanded her chicken dinner.
All was normal and the dogs had their dinner at the usual time. A little later I was sitting at the computer, turned round and saw Ginty behind me with a trail of bloody diarrhoea across the carpet. Subsequently she vomited up first her dinner and then a large blood clot. We monitored her all evening. She was in obvious discomfort and unsteady on her feet. Eventually I persuaded her to swallow a Tramadol which seemed to help settle her a little and we helped her upstairs to bed. At 7am Monday morning we spoke to our vet at home and then took her straight in when the surgery opened. His examination revealed a growth inside and her condition made the decision clear. She was given release by her friend Andrew who has been her vet and friend all her life and had owned one of her puppies. She had an individual cremation and we will keep her ashes next to those of her mother Purdey.
For the first time in over 30 years there is no longer a black Labrador in our house. She will be missed.