Normally, I let Tino get close to the dogs he finds, but I kept him back for a couple of reasons. First, I want him to enjoy his job, and I didn’t want him to associate search work with dogs being deceased. I remember when Kelsy found her first dog that had been killed by predators, and she had nightmares that night. The other reason was that Luna looked almost identical to Tino’s mother, Salma. Tino was three months old when Salma left us, adopted by a great family. I wasn’t sure how much Tino would remember about Salma, or if finding an identical dog deceased would make negative connections in his mind. I kept Tino from seeing Luna’s body as I transported her and carried her into the vet’s office.
I loved Salma, and of course Tino did, too. I would like to have kept them both, but Crazy Sky and Crazy Salma would have been impossible to integrate. I’ve always wondered how much Tino thinks about his mom. Tino did a great job finding Luna, in spite of the sad outcome. If not for Tino, Luna’s family never would have found her body, deep in the brambles and brush, a black dog with a black collar in the deep shadows under an evergreen tree. They had already walked past her a dozen times without realizing she was there. Tino did excellent work, and I made sure to tell him so. On the way home, we stopped at a park to play fetch, to make the experience a positive one. We celebrated Valentino’s good work. The sad result was not Tino’s fault. I told him that I love him, not for the first time today. We enjoyed a great moment in the park, celebrating life, which is always too brief.