Ginger, an amber-colored Weimaraner–Labrador Retriever mix, was first spotted in an empty field near the Accra-Fab facility in Liberty Lake, Wash., sometime in 2009. Employees referred to the skittish hound as “tough girl,” never venturing close enough to people to be brought in out of the field she called home, so that field is where she remained.
Accra-Fab Human Resources Director Barry Stewart, part of the group of employees who cared for Ginger during her time at large, says he and others were worried “tough girl’s” nervousness would prove disastrous were she ever placed in a shelter. “If she was going to go, out here would at least be the spot,” Stewart explains, telling The Spokesman-Review how he and his colleagues continued to leave food and water out for the wandering “tough girl.” “This was her home,” he adds.
Then, sometime in June, Carmel Travis was catching a loose Golden Retriever in nearby Coeur d’Alene when she got wind of a stray Weimaraner mix, a “tough girl” who’d been living in a field just over the Washington-Idaho state line.
A certified Missing Animal Response Technician with the California-based pet search-and-rescue organization Missing Pet Partnership, Carmel Travis has dedicated her life to rescuing strays and helping homeless dogs find forever homes. She knew she was probably this “tough girl’s” best shot of getting inside out of that field for good.
“It would haunt me that there’s a dog living in a field,” Travis remembers thinking. “That’s not right.”
So Travis traveled over to the field outside of the Accra-Fab facility armed with a double cheeseburger and a humane dog trap, determined to safely capture the frightened dog. After only two attempts, Travis was successful — she approached the trap to find “tough girl” waiting inside.
It only took a little bit of good detective work to learn the dog’s story. A trip to the veterinarian revealed a years-old microchip embedded in the dog’s skin. From the microchip information, it was determined the Weimaraner mix was adopted from the Spokane Humane Society in August 2009, but had bolted from her adopted owner’s car the same day she was brought home. The dog’s owner told Travis she spent weeks looking for Ginger before she gave up her search. It turns out the Accra-Fab field in Liberty Lake was less than a mile from where she was to live after her adoption.
Because the dog’s adopted family had recently moved out of state, they recommended Travis take the rescued dog to the local shelter. But Travis had other ideas. Though she had initially planned to place Ginger into a foster home, Travis found she’d grown too fond of the sweet but scared pup in the process of rescuing her. July 6, Travis brought Ginger home as one of her own dogs.
“We weren’t planning on keeping her,” Travis tells The Spokesman-Review. “But she’s special.”
“She’s too sweet to let go,” Travis says of Ginger. “She captured my heart.”
Though Ginger spent the better part of four years slipping past her would-be rescuers and generally avoiding all human contact, today she is an entirely different dog. When Travis took Ginger for a visit with the Accra-Fab employees who cared for her shortly after her rescue, Ginger was happy to accept gentle pets and tasty treats.
“I’ve never seen her up close, she always books,” former caretaker Sam Young says of Ginger. “I used to keep a bowl back there and feed her. I used to leave it and I would see her creep up.”
It was Travis who named the rescued Weim-Lab mix Ginger, after the character from the classic television show Gilligan’s Island— perfect for a dog who’d spent the better part of four years marooned in a field.
“She’s a star, just like Ginger,” Travis says as Ginger’s Accra-Fab family greets the happy dog. “It’s very interesting to hear about part of her life from people who cared about her.”