Who Rescued Whom…?

Did Dr. Michael Ginsberg save the lives of two rescue dogs, or did two rescue dogs save the life of Dr. Ginsberg? Hard to say, but before Toby and Lusi came into his life, he remembers feeling extremely grumpy and downright despondent after a 2.5 hour commute home to the Bay Area one Friday night.

These days, he’s greeted at the door with a whole lot of tail-wagging and licking. “Now, I’m giggling and laughing when Lusi and Toby greet me at the door,” he says. “Dogs will make you smile every day.”

But dogs are not for everyone, warns the affable pediatrician, who practices at the Hilborn Road Center for Primary Care in Fairfield. “I’d never tell someone to get a dog if they didn’t really want a dog. It’s a big responsibility and a commitment. But it can also be a very rewarding proposition for a family, especially to teach lessons of responsibility and routine to their children.”

Lusi was his first rescue. A backyard breeder sold her to a family in Yuba City, but a medical crisis forced them to give her up. She was only in the shelter for three days when Dr. Ginsberg claimed her.

He has tremendous respect for the folks who run dog rescues, saying he’ll never purchase a purebred. “These people at the rescues are doing it as a labor of love. They’re angels,” he says.

When Lusi was first adopted at the age of 4 months, she weighed only 22 pounds. Two weeks later, she had gained a healthy 10 pounds and now weighs in at 63. She loves people, especially children, and always wants to play fetch, he says.

Toby came along in 2011. He was in a shelter for three to four months after he was found wandering around a playground in Modesto. “We don’t know too much about him,” says Dr. Ginsberg. “He was skittish and fearful. And although he’s warmed up a lot, he’s still not as friendly as Lusi. But he is her protector, even though he’s only one-third of her size.”

When Lusi had to go to the vet for treatment, Toby sat at the door and waited patiently. And when she came home, he guarded over her while her leg was in bandages. “We know who he loves best,” jokes Dr. Ginsberg.

Still, Toby has made a lot of progress from that frightened little fellow that first came home with him three years ago. “I started saying his name, but he wouldn’t come. He wouldn’t even come out for treats. What kind of a dog doesn’t come out for treats?” he asks. “A very damaged dog,” he answers quietly.

But Toby is well on the road to recovery, if you trust his Facebook page where he has a positively cheerful collection of happy puppy pictures. Yes, he has a Facebook page, as does Lusi, who shares such thoughts as “Why sit on dry grass when you can lie down in a mud puddle?” and “Someone throw the ball, please!”

They make sure their master gets plenty of exercise and sunshine, which is a pretty healthy prescription for just about anyone, agrees Dr. Ginsberg. “I think they’re good for me, and I’m good for them. It’s a perfect match.”

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