Ginny may look like an ordinary dog, albeit with a unique look from the Siberian Husky/Schnauzer mix, however she is truly become a dog of legend. From shaky beginnings, after Ginny was adopted from the shelter she paid that kindness forward by seeking out stray cats to rescue. However, Ginny didn't target just any stray cats; she only helped the ones that were sick or injured. Before Ginny died in 2005 at the ripe old age of 17, she had racked up a count of over 900 lives saved.
The story of Ginny starts shortly before she was taken to a shelter. She and her three puppies had become locked in a closet of an abandoned apartment building. Before they were found by the landlord, the little family had been without food and water for over a week. The veterinarians at the shelter thought that Ginny may have been beyond saving when she was brought in. They considered putting her out of her misery, but eventually they decided to give her a fighting chance. When Ginny and her puppies eventually recovered, they were placed up for adoption.
The pups found good and loving homes, but Ginny found something more. For a dog who racked up nearly 1,000 lives saved over her lifetime, she started first with her owner. In 1990, after Phillip Gonzales suffered an accident at his job as a steamfitter that left his right arm near useless, he fell into a depression. His neighbor suggested he get a dog to help get him out of his slump. Originally, he had his eye on a Doberman, but it was adopted just before he could make up his mind. Disappointed, shelter workers suggested he take Ginny out for a walk. Ginny seemed to sense his disappoint and refused to move. When Phillip looked into her face, he was under her spell.
Shortly after adopting Ginny, Phillip found out about Ginny's special talent. Ginny sniffed out cats in alleys, abandoned buildings, constructions sites, and even in a glove box on occasion. However, it was strictly just the sick and ill strays that Ginny found. Many of her fans believe that because she was found in similar circumstances that she didn't want others didn't suffer through the same fate--scared and alone.
One of Ginny's most famous rescue stories is her first one. One day while out on a walk with Phillip, Ginny broke free of her leash and ran off. Phillip chased her down where she was scratching at a pipe in a panic. Ginny continued to paw the pipe until it fell and a slew of kittens tumbled out. For a dog, which is normally considered a predator, the kittens treated Ginny as though they had known her all their lives.
While many of the cats that Ginny rescued ended up in shelters, two of them ended up in Phillip's home. When the pair went to donate treats to the local shelter, Phillip found Ginny standing in front of the cage of a one-eyed cat. Giving into those puppy dog eyes, he adopted the cat for Ginny. The very next week, Ginny came across another cat that looked to be perfectly healthy. However, Phillip made it part of the family regardless. He later discovered that the cat was deaf.
Many have theorized why Ginny made it her life's mission to track down stray cats, in particular only the sick and injured ones, but animal behaviorist have come to the consensus that it was an over active maternal instinct. However, for the animals she saved some would argue she had just the right amount.
In 2005, Phillip was faced with a difficult decision. At 17, Ginny had become incontinent and arthritic. Simple tasks for any dog had become a chore. However, when Ginny stopped eating, he knew that it was time for her to move on and be put to sleep. Her legacy lives on in books that tell her story as well as a website dedicated to her. She even has the Ginny Fund, in which Phillip and other donators continue to help the stray cat population of Long Island. Ginny's tale is an inspiring one showing that even lowly shelter dogs are capable of true miracles.