Tale of Tails: Tino – Final Chapter
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows.
Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.
Author: Omar Bradley
The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.
Author: Lin Yu-t’ang
I took a detour from my Tale of Tails: Tino series with anecdotes about his adventures (or misadventures) with various critters over the years. I want to get back to the final chapter of Tino’s life because that’s where the true inspiration comes.
Tino’s final years were filled with peace and contentment. I started each of his Chapters with a quote that focused on a virtue that Tino displayed, be it Perseverance, or Strength or Gratitude. During his final years, there was all of that as well as Bravery and Contentment.
Tino was nine when he went blind and he lived to 15, so there were many years he was completely blind. It never stopped him from doing anything he wanted. It might have hampered his progress or slowed him down, but he still ran with me, he still chased bunnies and lizards and whatever other creatures he could fixate on. One of our favorite stories is how Tino helped us trap and capture a squirrel that had gotten into our house when he was not only blind, but was 14+ years old.
I could tell Tino stories all day, he was such a dog. That’s all I can say, he was a dog of the highest caliber. He did all the dog things a good dog should do: protect his mom, his sister and his yard, investigate any unknown sound inside or outside the house, hunt down and destroy, if possible, any critters within his vicinity, greet strangers (human and canine) warmly with an opening to play, but don’t back down if they are rude and don’t realize his superior prowess, eat whatever is put in front of you or next to you or behind you, as a matter of fact, eat whatever you can wrap your teeth around, let the vet poke and prod you because that’s what mom wants, come to mom or dad each evening for a scratch and a kiss, sleep soundly all night long, never pee or poop in the house, love mom and dad and sisters Sally and Becca with all your being. Live life to the fullest and with joy.
It’s a long list, and I could go on. Needless to say, I loved Tino a great deal. I think my deep feelings for him stem from having truly rescued him from a certain slow death, nursing him back to health and seeing him grow into himself, literally and figuratively.
After he went blind, life went on. During his 14th year he started to slow down. We had stopped running him maybe a year before and this year, his back legs really started to weaken. He started to sink when he stood in place and would just plop down wherever sometimes with his legs just giving out. He also lost control of his bowels, which made for some real issues. It wasn’t everyday, only a few times a week, but his bed was getting worn out from washing.
He showed signs of dementia. I struggled with this as some of his behavior from blindness was similar to signs of dementia, but I realized that his circling, wandering and restlessness were not blindness – he knew where his bed was, where the door was, he was just confused and disoriented.
We started having the conversation that every pet parents dreads…when should we let him go. It was a heartbreaking decision since there were no clear cut signs. It was easier with Sally, she was in excruciating pain and later with Becca as she had bone cancer. But with Tino, he was just slowly disintegrating in front of us. He still ate, but he no longer tracked me or my voice, something he did since he had gone blind, he never slept through the night, he was up wandering and pacing the house. He started getting lost in the house and I could see him having these tiny little tremors and I knew he was having some type of seizure.
Although he had a very rough start, he was with us for over 13 years and lived a long and eventful life filled with love and adventures. He’d had his share of suffering and I knew I couldn’t hang on to him for my sake. We made the decision and one sunny Saturday we sent Tino on his next journey. He had gone out in the morning and was lying in the sun in his backyard, as he usually did. I went outside, laid out a blanket and sat with him, stroking him for the last time waiting for the doctor. She arrived and quietly performed the procedure. Tino never stirred from his nap, he just slipped quietly into his next life. I’m glad it was a peaceful journey for him and that we were able to share our lives and our love with him while he was here.
This is my last picture of TIno, in his napping spot that day. He was a sweet, old soul.