Tale of Tails: Tino & the Critters II
If you read our blog, you know about our dog Tino. If you don’t, you can read previous stories of him here. Today’s story is about Tino & the squirrel.
Tino lived to be about 14.5. Since we rescued him from a wilderness area, we’re not really sure of his age – but he was pretty old. He’d been blind since about age 9 and also had Canine Cognitive Dysfunction…or canine dementia.
We had just started having those difficult conversations about Tino’s quality of life and whether or not it was time to let him go. While the blindness really wasn’t an issue, the dementia was. He had very bad arthritis and his rear end sagged all the time – he couldn’t really stand up very well. He wandered in circles, forgot where he was, was incontinent and slept about 23 hours a day. We knew the time was close, but we had just lost our Sally about 18 months earlier, and just weren’t ready.
About this time, a squirrel got in our house. It was pretty weird, I opened the door to take the dogs out for a walk and the squirrel, who’d been munching on something on the front porch just ran in the house. I screamed (of course) and ran OUT of the house, so I didn’t see where the squirrel went. We hunted for it high and low armed with brooms and blankets to throw over it, but couldn’t find it – the door out to our back deck was open, so we assumed (hoped) that it had just run in the front and right out the back.
Being a Sunday evening, we settled in for some TV. After a bit I noticed that Tino wasn’t settling in, but rather pacing from his bed, down the back hallway to the dog door and back. Since he’d been displaying some disorientation from the dementia, I didn’t think much of it, but when it persisted even after I put him into his bed, I got up to investigate further. Sure enough, there was the squirrel – cowering in a corner of that hallway. It scampered away when it saw me – back the other way into the family room.
Our hunt began anew. We opened the doors so it could run out and then tried to herd it towards one of them, hoping it would see its escape route and take it. The squirrel was freaked out and I’m hopping from couch to table and back since I wasn’t going to step foot on the floor! Squirrels are fast little things and we were not having any luck. We regrouped in the other room, getting some additional equipment to try and herd it better and came back and couldn’t find it. We thought it had gotten under the sofa bed, but when we moved it, nothing was there. We searched the room and figured it had scampered out the door when we weren’t looking.
We sat and waited a few minutes, trying to figure out whether it was indeed gone and then I noticed Tino. He’d been involved in the hunt since it began, just kind of wandering around the room, trying to keep up. But now he was circling the sofa, stopping at the midpoint in the front, sniffing and then walking around to the same point in the back and sniffing. He was clearly smelling the squirrel IN THE SOFA. It was a sleeper sofa, so the squirrel had probably climbed up onto one of the metal bars of the pullout. But Tino knew exactly where it was and by watching him, so did I.
Steve turned the sofa over and sure enough…there it was. Totally freaked out, as were we…but Tino was cool as a cucumber. After more hopping around, we managed to herd it out the door and then closed everything up nice and tight. Tino wandered outside to make sure everything was ship shape and then came back in and went right to sleep, so I knew for sure the squirrel was out of the house.
That little episode gave us pause in our thoughts about Tino and the quality & enjoyment of his life. Tino was always a hunter and he clearly LOVED this little escapade and if it wasn’t for his persistence in sniffing out that squirrel, we’d still be looking for it!