Tale of Tails: Tino Chapter 3
What does not destroy me makes me strong.
And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.
Putting Bernie to sleep was extremely difficult, but we knew it had to be done. Watching the seizures take over was a sobering experience that left no doubt in our mind about what was best for Bernie. But we wondered how it would affect Tino. My fear was, that without his brother – his faithful companion and protector – his health would spiral down and he would come to a similar end.
Surprisingly that’s not what happened. But it did seem to be a turning point and Tino’s health improved and improved quickly. It was as if a crossroads had been reached by both pups at the same time. On Bernie’s path, unfortunately the disease overcame him, but Tino’s determination, stamina and fortitude allowed him to fight it off and survive. Almost overnight, there was a marked change in his health. After another week or so, the vet gave him a clean bill of health and we decided to introduce him to the neighborhood.
We figured after having free rein of an entire 100 acre park, Tino would love to get out of our relatively small backyard. To our surprise, he refused to go out the gate. It seemed that no matter how we coerced, pleaded, or dragged him he was determined NOT to give up this new cushy life and safety of our backyard. We could barely get him to the end of the driveway let alone around the block. We knew he needed some exercise, but certainly didn’t want to traumatize him anymore than he had been.
After several days of attempting to get him out for a walk, I was just about to give up! Interestingly, he would willingly get into the car, so I decided to drive him to a park and see how he would react. It was like a new beginning. Once he got out of the yard, got a taste of freedom and then was brought BACK home again safe and sound, he was transformed. Taking a walk became his favorite thing to do – anywhere, anytime, anybody; for his entire life, Tino was always ready willing and able to go for a ride, a walk or a run.
This adventure started out as a short term ‘rescue’ operation, but by this time, after all we had been through together, there was no more discussion about finding another home for Tino. He was with us for keeps and with the distemper finally behind us, we turned our attention to his leg. He was basically a three legged dog. He never used or put weight on his rear right leg. The leg was misshapen and shriveled all the way up to his hip. We assumed that he had been kicked or possibly hit by a car. We didn’t know if the leg could be fixed or at what cost.
We took him to our vet who closely examined it and reported good news. It was merely a torn ACL ligament in his knee, no broken hip or dysplasia. We were no strangers to the difficulties and costs of orthopedic surgery. Our Lab Sally had numerous orthopedic problems. Some of this was a predisposition of Labs to joint problems including dysplasia, but Sally was also rambunctious – always looking to run and play. One of her favorite games was chase – she would cut and weave like an NFL player. Through the years she has torn the ACL in both of her knees requiring surgery and she also developed elbow dysplasia requiring a third surgery. As she aged, she slowed considerably. She had a noticeable limp on her front leg – the one with dysplasia and she was noticeably bow-legged – a result of the two knee surgeries and resultant scar tissue and arthritis. She never complained and was always ready to play or fetch and never let her injuries get in her way.
One of the difficult parts of these surgeries is keeping the dog quiet to allow for healing. We weren’t sure how Tino would react not just to the stress of surgery, but to the necessary confinement afterwards. The surgery went extremely well, better than could be hoped for. It didn’t appear to faze Tino in the least. And then, once his knee was repaired, there was no stopping him. He recovered quickly and other than a scar running down the side of his leg, you would never know the extent of his previous disability. His ability to pull through the distemper and then this surgery was pretty inspiring.
I admire dogs for their ability to persevere through amazing hardships or abuse. My brother Jim had a dog. Her name was Serene – and it suited her very well, she was the most gentle and kind dog I’ve ever met and she was a beauty – not sure of her lineage, I’d say part golden retriever as she had a beautiful blond coat and maybe part border collie because she was as smart as a whip. Serene had one litter of puppies…unintentionally…and my brother, who at the time was a college student in Washington DC distributed the pups among his friends in his neighborhood. Serene’s babies all stayed pretty close.
Jim kept one of the pups – Radar, who’s name also suited him well because he had a tendency to be so exuberant, he would run into things! One day, Radar during his morning constitutional around the neighborhood saying good day to his siblings, was hit by a car. Jim and most of the neighborhood were at school or at work, and the driver just kept going. But Serene dragged her son up onto the porch of Jim’s house and laid on top of Radar the entire day, keeping him warm until Jim got home from school and was able to get him to the vet. Who knows what would have happened to Radar if Serene hadn’t displayed such tenacity and perseverance to pull him to warmth and safety.
Do you have a story of grit & determination…the perseverance of one of your pets? Tell us about it in the comments section.