Tina had white fur that resembled long stringy feathers. This "fur" barely covered her anorexic frame, exposing pink and grey skin beneath like a bad comb-over. She did not like to be held by anyone beside my grandparents. She hated children. She snapped at us when we tried to pet her. She shook on her spindly legs as though she would fall down any second.
|This in no way does Tina justice.|
Despite all this, my grandparents loved that dog more than anything else on the planet. Their love somehow sustained Tina. The poor creature defied its dodo roots, living to be around 157 in dog years. She lived long after she had lost the ability to hear, see, and bark like other dogs.
One winter, while we visited, crashing on the icy floor in the outer living room, my grandma mentioned she had not seen Tina in a while.
We searched everywhere, calling out the dog's name, even though she could not hear us. My grandparents became more frantic as they worried for their lost freak show of a dog. We assumed she snuck outside into the cold where her feathers would not offer much protection. We did not stop looking though. Tina was their precious extremely elderly baby. We could not give up hope and destroy our grandparents' hearts.
Someone heard a faint raspy bark, then another. At least she was in the house and not frozen in the snow outside. The barks seemed to come from nowhere, everywhere, the ghost of Tina calling from the walls in every room. I followed the sound as best I could, leading me slowly to the source, the heating vents. My grandpa had removed one of the grates to let more air flow out in order to heat the small section of the house we could use and occupy.
Tina was in the vents! She wandered around lost, blind, and alone, only able to move forward in the narrow ducts. We called to her down the open vent, but her barks came from a great distance. She would not return the way she had gone.
My father raced to the scary basement where the fruit room resided. He followed the little tik tik sound of Tina's footsteps. Her destination was not pretty.
My father heard the barks from just outside the furnace. He acted quickly, pulling the the ductwork apart with his hands.
Soot fell from the gaping hole.
Tina fell into his arms, exhausted, covered in soot, but alive. She had been inches away from a very messy and bar-b-qued end. She was around 102 in dog years at the time. She lived a good many years after. She was too frail to give her a bath in the middle of winter, so the soot stayed, became a part of her, yellowing her feathers...um fur...even more.
We then endured several days of my grandpa repeating the joke, "We almost had ourselves a HOT DOG!" to everyone he saw, including those of us who had heard him say it 79 times already. We pretended to laugh for him every time.
My grandparents and Tina will be missed. Wherever you are, I love all three of you.