The Story of Tink and Zu

Tink and Zu were littermates. We got them at 12 weeks, and in the five years we had them, they were only apart three nights - two, separate nights when they were spayed, and one night Tinka spent in the hospital.

When we first brought them home, we tried to treat them like two dogs. It never worked. If we put down two dishes of food, they would go to one dish, share it, finish it, and then head for the other (assuming they were still hungry). We bought them a long chew stick and cut it in half. They weren't interested in having their own and would just wrestle over one. We learned to leave the sticks long and then hold it in the middle while a dog chewed happily on each end.

We had a leash with a "Y" on it for walking two dogs. Hook them up and off they would go, never fighting or pulling at each other. Never had to train them that way either, they just knew what to do.

When we walked them Tinka was always on the left, Zu on the right, with both dogs on my left hand side. We thought that was because Tinka had to be on the outside and Zu on the inside. The habit of being on the right is so ingrained in Zu that he would try to keep me on his left when we would go for walks.

Their personalities were the best one could ever hope for in a pair of dogs. They never fought (not that we ever allowed that kind of behavior anyway) and were never jealous if one was getting attention and the other was waiting. When we took them anywhere, we never worried that they would cause problems, bark, bite, or give us any reason to be concerned.

The dogs were with one or the other of us every day. Lisa kept them with her on Mondays and Tuesdays. She works Wednesday through Fridays, so I would take them to UCSD with me on those days. When they were pups I would put an exercise pen around the outside of my office door and they would sit in the hallway and wait for someone to come by and pet them. They rarely had to wait long. As they got older, and on days when traffic in the hall was light (Mondays and Fridays), I would just leave the door open and they would sit in the doorway.

We never left them overnight - they travelled everywhere with us. Our favorite B&B in San Francisco is the Inn 1890. We have been going there for over 10 years and, until last year, they took dogs. When we called for reservations for last summer, they said that they had stopped taking dogs, but we could bring Tink and Zu. We assumed that the Inn had a list of dogs they knew, and ours were on that list.

When we got there, and asked the innkeepers about pets, they told us that they had no list, and that Tink and Zu were the only dogs they allowed to stay there.

For all their closeness, they had distinctive personalities. They never slept together, nor did they need to be right beside each other on off-leash walks, or around the house. As long as one could see the other, everything was fine.

Tinka loved being inside things. At hotels she would always curl up inside the nightstand beside the bed. Mr. Zu prefers open country for the most part. Tinka was far more adventurous, venturing forth to explore new places. But Mr. Zu is the one who likes to meet new people.

Tinka loved having her butt scratched above her tail. I often worried that she would loose her fur at that spot. But when I came home, I would lay down on the floor so she could jump on my chest to get scratched.

Mr. Zu loves toys, especially balls. Tinka (for whom we bought the balls originally) could not care less. Zu's favorite thing in the world is to chase a ball down the hallway, and we have to throw the ball whenever we come back after leaving him. If you want him to follow you, pick up his ball and squeak it. He'd go over a cliff with you if you had his ball in your hand.

Like many things in life, these two were more than the sum of them as individuals. Their behavior was complimentary almost to the point of symbiosis. The loss of Tinka was more than just losing a dog, it was the loss of part of the center of what gave our lives meaning for the short time we had her in our lives.