Tales of Tails: Tino Part 5
All things come round to him who will but wait.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
Our lives moved on uneventfully and we learned that Tino was a dog with many interesting quirks. One which evidenced itself early on, when Bernie was still with us was hoarding. Tino loved to dig and loved to bury things. During the first weeks with us, we would give Bernie and Tino chew treats. Neither one of them was quite sure what to do with them – I assume they had never had treats like these before. Bernie quickly discovered they were edible and would plop right down and devour it. Tino however would delicately carry his treasure around in his mouth until he found the perfect spot to bury it. Because of his bad leg, he could not dig and bury things as a normal dog would – digging with his front paws – so Tino would dig with his nose. It wasn’t a very effective methodology because he just couldn’t dig very far, but he would do his best at creating a hole, drop the treat into it and then cover it over – sliding the dirt back on top of it with his nose. I could always tell when he had buried something by the caked dirt on his nose.
His burying soon extended to his toys. Since they still didn’t really know how to play, the toys, like the treats, were another prized possession that need to be squirreled away to enjoy at a later date. At least once a week, I would make a circuit of our yard, unearthing all of the dog treats and dog toys that had been buried around the circumference of the yard.
One week while I was out of town, Steve experienced Tino’s digging obsession first hand. He had been out to the store during the day and returned to discover his wallet missing. He retraced his steps out to the car, back into the house, back to the store, back home growing more and more frustrated with himself at misplacing his wallet. He resigned himself to its disappearance and set himself to calling and canceling his credit cards, ATM, etc.
Later that evening as he was watching TV he noticed the telltale mud-caked nose on Tino. He grabbed a flashlight and checked the garden in the front yard. Sure enough, under a little pile of dirt, he uncovered his wallet. He must have dropped it in the yard on his way to the car and Tino – realizing its value, did what he did with all of his treasured possessions – he buried it. From that point on – whenever things went missing, one of our first places to look was at Tino’s nose to see if he had been excavating.
A few years later, we moved to a new home farther away from the city with almost an acre of land for the dogs to roam in. Tino was in his glory. When we moved in, our yard was completely overgrown, with lots of little woodland animals making their homes in the trees, under the old dilapidated hot tub, or underneath the shed out back. There were lots of rabbits, gophers, birds, etc. to stalk and hopefully to capture. Tino had a very strong prey instinct resulting from his time in the wild. I am sure that is how he and Bernie survived, hunting and killing their own meals.
The rabbits were typically too fast for him. Birds obviously were unattainable as they could just fly away. Or so we thought. Our home had an enclosed courtyard and frequently, when we were out we would leave the door to the courtyard open so that the dogs could sit in the sunshine and watch the neighborhood.
One day, when Steve came home from work and went into his closet to change his clothes he came racing back out holding a handful of feathers. That was all that was left of the poor little bird who most have flown into the house through the open courtyard door and found themselves the object of Tino’s instinctual drive. We’ll never know what went on that day in the house, but I can imagine the sight of Tino and possibly Sally chasing the poor bird from room to room until they finally cornered it in Steve’s closest.
We did not leave the courtyard door open again after that.
As I said, Tino had some quirky behaviors. At our home in Pasadena, we lived close to a fire station and frequently heard fire alarms at all hours of the day or night. Tino loved to sing along to the sirens. His howling would start as just a low rumble and then grow into a full throated, through your head back howl as good as any coyote around. Occasionally, Steve would join in and the two of them would howl away long after the siren faded.
Our new home is set in farm land about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles. We don’t get many sirens, so Tino’s singing has ceased. Although, one day, I was sitting with him out on our back deck and heard what sounded like an ice cream truck song. Within seconds Tino’s distinct rumble started up and soon he was singing away to the ice cream truck. The two sounds are very dissimilar so I’m not sure what prompted the behavior, but it was nice to hear him singing again.
When we first moved in, the yard of our new home was overrun by gophers and Tino had a field day digging for them. He would stand in the front yard at the opening of a gopher hole with his head cocked – listening to the gophers underground. He would then pounce into the hole with a frenzy digging for all he was worth. By now he had learned to use his front paws, but he still relied on his nose to lead the way. There were days when I would look out the front windows and see him hip deep into a gopher hole seemingly digging his way to China. His patience in slowly listening for and stalking these gophers was a site to see.
Life goes on with various adventures and misadventures we will capture in future chapters but at age nine Tino develops glaucoma.
Stay Tuned for Part 6: Tino goes blind.