Last week Tinker died. She was almost sixteen years old and was the best dog we have ever met. Tinker came to us in an unusual way- through visiting teaching. I was visiting a sister that had a little farm. My boys had come to ride her horses while we visited. She also bred blue heelers and shelties. As we watched my two young boys each straddling unbrushed geldings, whacking their legs against horses that were far more interested in eating than walking, the conversation turned and Rene said to me, "I'm not looking forward to this afternoon- I have to drown a puppy."
"What?" I screamed, horrified at her words.
"One of my shelties got in with Pearl by accident and she's got one mutt. If I don't get rid of it, I can't sell the rest of the litter as pure breeds."
"I'll take it." I pled. Maybe it was because I had a new baby at the time but the thought of killing a new life just sickened me.
Rene shook her head, "You do not want a new pup. You have to feed it every few hours. You want to get up in the middle of the night for a mutt? And its not worth anything."
"I'm up with the baby anyway, I can feed them at the same time." I answered bravely and so that morning we went home with a little two-week-old puppy.
At the time we already had a dog named Belle after Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." It would have been more accurate to have called her "Beast." Belle was half chow and half golden retriever, a gorgeous dog to look at. Although she was wonderful with the children, her protective heart and aggressive nature were making me a little nervous. She had killed a chicken and tried to bury the evidence in the sandbox and attacked the meter man who had gone into the backyard unannounced with the children back there.
Luckily, Belle welcomed the new puppy happily and we decided to name our new dog, "Tinker," continuing our Disney theme because if you put the two names together...( it's tacky I know.) Unlike our beautiful Belle, Tinker was not really attractive. She had the markings of a sheltie but the white of her coat had the mottled look of a blue healer which always made her look dirty.
By the end of that year, Belle had jumped the fence and ripped a little dog to shreds that had been annoying her. We felt we had to put her down with much tears. But Tinker's personality was turning out to be the total opposite. She loved attention of any kind. The children would dress her up in baby clothes and she would just pant happily, loving being loved. As Tinker grew she proved to be even more incredible.
One long weekend we decided to go visit family. We left a good supply of food and water in the garage, and the garage door open just enough so she could get in and out. After making sure the dog was outside, we took off, not really concerned. As we pulled up to the house three days later, we couldn't see the dog anywhere. We called and called and then one of the kids opened the door. She had been trapped inside that whole time. I had a pit in my stomach thinking about all the mess I would have to clean up but there was none. She had lasted three days without a single accident- she must have had an iron bladder.
Tinker was great around everyone. The only person she ever bit was a dishonest contractor that I wish I could have bitten. I loved her for that too. She travelled across the country with us, didn't bark excessively and loved to have her belly rubbed. She was a good dog and we'll miss her.
They say "All Dogs go To Heaven" and I believe it. But I also believe that when some dogs are bonded to a family like Tinker was to ours that she'll be waiting for us. And when that day comes that I cross the veil to the loving arms of my family, I have a strong feeling that there will be a wagging tail and turned up belly waiting to be scratched there too.