When Paul Ferney last offered slots in The Commission Project, I bought one and picked this photo to be turned into a 5×7″ oil painting in Ferney’s pretty, impressionist style.
Only one living figure was was allowed in the painting for the discounted price, so I chose Tino. Of all three dogs, he was the most rejected and downtrodden when we found him.
You remember the story. It was 2007 and we were on a tour bus in Puerto Rico that stopped at a beach. I wandered away from everyone and heard a crying noise over by some trucks. When I saw what was making all the racket, my stomach flipped over, and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, nothing was ever the same again.
Years later, I still think about what I saw; often it promts me to scoop Tino up into my chest and nuzzle my nose on the top of his fuzzy head. If I think about it too long, I start dripping tears down his ears and snout.
Someone had broken his back, and his hind legs were completely paralyzed and laid out behind him, useless. He was dirty, skinny, starving and dehydrated. We gave him a water bottle out of cupped hands, which was all we had, and asked around about him. A few locals shrugged.
“He’s been there for five days.” they said. “No one really cares.”
I became a whole other, stronger person that day as I jumped through hoops and endured a disheartening level of scorn from family to get him rescued, fixed up, and sent to live with us.
Today, he is the worst-behaved and least-loved* of our three dogs. He’s wary around strangers, barks crazily at strange dogs, and bites anyone who dares attempt to pet him (Rob and I can, but no one else.)
But he can’t help it. He tries to be a good dog, I can see it in his body language. He’ll cuddle with a few of our more trusted (and mostly female) friends, and as long as they keep hands off, he’ll fall asleep with his chin on their knees. That was something we never thought we’d see when we first got him. He learned a few tricks, too, and despite how frustrating he can be sometimes, I’m enormously proud of him and how far he’s come.
I know it sounds a little ridiculous, and Tino doesn’t understand, but I thought he deserved this anyway. A throw-away dog turned into a cherished oil painting is a good happy ending.
*By others, of course. I’m not allowed to have favorites!