Introduction to “The Book of Tino”

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Tino@ age 9

Every dog-lover has a story to tell about a dog that crossed their path.  It may be a big dog or little dog, a smart dog or a ‘not-so-smart’ dog, but the common thread is they learned something from their encounter.  It may have been a very simple lesson about the joys of life and the contentment found in stopping to smell the roses or how easy it can be to laugh at ones mistakes or it may have been a deeper and more meaningful lesson about courage and perseverance in overcoming adversity.

Over the years, my family has had many dogs in our lives.  Each of us has developed our own favorite breed and each dog holds a special place in our hearts and family history.  The central character of my story is our dog Tino.  Tino was near death’s door when my husband and I rescued him and his brother Bernie over fifteen years ago from an overgrown park in Los Angeles County.

Bernie succumbed to the distemper they both suffered from, but Tino struggled through and survived.  Over the years Tino has grown into a healthy and happy pet, bringing daily amusement and joy to our family.  At the age of 8, Tino developed glaucoma and lost his sight completely.  This book is a tribute to the lessons I learned over the years from Tino and his ability to find the strength to overcome distemper, find his place in our family pack and then adjust and thrive in the total darkness brought about by his disease.  We lost Tino to old age less than two years ago and we miss him every day.

Interwoven with Tino’s story are anecdotes from my family and the life lessons they have learned through living with their dogs.  The anecdotes include Taj, my sister Anne’s Weimaraner a rambunctious young dog, but a dedicated and focused hunter and my brother Jim’s dog Serene, a Border Collie mix with a personality and demeanor that matched her name.  We trace our fondness for dogs back to our grandfather who came over from Ireland to breed and raise collies in upstate New York.

All of our beloved pets have given us laughter for sure, but they also demonstrate unconditional love and inspiring behavior that fills us with amazement, respect and pride.  They motivate us to become not only better dog owners, but better human beings.

Each chapter of “The Book of Tino” is devoted to a particular theme or characteristic such as Strength, Perseverance or Trust.  Each story will be accompanied by well-known – or not so well-known – proverb, adage or maxim that helps define the lesson of the Chapter.  These sayings are intended to supply the reader with a message to reflect upon while reading the story.

“The one, absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog”.

George Graham Vest


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