Can you set a price on love? Can you set a number to it? Can you calculate it by the cost of veterinary care? Squeaky toys? Greenies?  Dog food? Grooming?


Tinker Belle was a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, usually called PBGVs or Petites. They are a medium-sized, shaggy rabbit hound from the Vendée region of France.

PBGVs are not the dog for everyone. Smart, sometime scarily. Natural clowns who will do almost anything to make you laugh. Noisy, nosy, and into everything.

Tinker Belle was special. From the day I brought her home, she wasn’t like any other puppy. Incredibly smart. As a rule, hounds are intelligent, but she was something else.

Housebreaking? We showed her the doggy door. She was henceforth housebroken. She could open any door, any gate and close them behind her. She would open jars of peanut butter without leaving a fang mark to note her passing. All you’d find was a perfectly clean empty jar that had previously been an unopened, brand new jar.


She was sensitive. Probably a born therapy dog, she knew who was in pain, who was sick. She knew where you hurt. The only dog who would never step on a healing incision, but would cuddle close to you, look at you with her dark, soft eyes and tell you everything would be fine.

She never hurt a living thing, not human or anything else … except for small varmints she hunted in the yard. She was, after all, a hound. A hunter, born to track, point and carry prey back to a master.

She was the smartest of our dogs, the smartest dog every. Not just a little bit smarter than normal. A huge amount smarter. When you looked into Tinker’s eyes, it wasn’t like looking into the eyes of a dog. She was a human in a dog suit.

She knew. We called her Tinker the Thinker because she planned. Remembered. She held grudges. Nonetheless, she was at the bottom of the pack hierarchy.

We thought it was her own choice. She had no interest in leadership. Too much responsibility maybe? But the other dogs knew her value. When they needed her, other dogs would tap into her expertise in gate opening, package disassembly, cabinet burglary, trash can raiding, and other canine criminality.


Throughout her life, she housebroke each new puppy. A couple of hours with Tinker, and the job was done. It was remarkable. Almost spooky. She then mothered them until they betrayed her by growing up and playing with other dogs.


When Griffin, our big male Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen came to live with us a few months after Tinker, they became The Couple. inseparable, deeply in love. They ate together, played together, slept together, sang together. When about a year later, we briefly had a little Norwich Terrier pup and Griffin (what a dog) abandoned Tinker to go slobbering after Sally.

Tinker’s sensitive heart broke. She became depressed, would not play with humans or dogs. For the next decade, Tinker wouldn’t even look at Griffin. She apparently blamed us, too, her humans for having brought another girl into the house. In retribution for our crimes, Tinker began a Reign of Terror.

Tinker took to destroying everything she could get her fangs on when she was three years old. She’d done a modest amount of puppy chewing, but nothing extraordinary. She was more thief than a chewer. She would steal your stuff and hide it. Shoes, toys (Kaity was very young), towels, stuffed animals. After Griffin betrayed her with that stupid little bitch — Sally was indeed the polar opposite of Tinker being the dumbest dog I’ve ever known and ill-tempered to boot — Tinker was no longer a playful thief. She was out to get us.

Nothing was safe. She had a particular passion for destroying expensive electronic devices. Cell phones, remote controls, portable DVD players, computers. If she could get a fang to them, she killed them.

She would do more damage in under a minute than you could imagine. It meant we couldn’t leave the room together unless we put everything where Tinker couldn’t get it. She would strike quickly. If we were off to bed for the night, every item had to be put away. If she couldn’t get to an electronic item, she ate the sofa, the rocking chair, the coffee table, a lot of books, many DVDs.

For dessert, shoes were yummy. I didn’t own shoes without tooth marks. We called them “Tinkerized.” We had a grading system from 10 – Utterly destroyed, to 1 – Only shows if you look closely. Most of my shoes fell into the 2 to 3 range and since she tended to start at the heel, I figured most folks wouldn’t notice.


During one memorable intermission, Tinker dismembered the remotes. She pulled off the backs, tore out the batteries (but did not eat them). Then she ripped out the innards. It was less than two minutes.

She didn’t waste time. If she had leisure, she’d also tear out keys and mangle cases, but if time was limited, she went straight to the guts of the thing. She was good.


For 10 years, we lived under siege. If you didn’t want it Tinkerized, you couldn’t leave it exposed, not for a minute.

For the last year of her life, after we brought Bonnie home, Tinker became a real dog again. With Bonnie, Tinker ran around. Played tag. Joined the chorus when the pack pointed their muzzles at the sky and sang.

Hounds have beautiful voices and Tinker’s was the most beautiful.

Three years ago, Tinker died of cancer. She had shown no symptoms except a slight slowing down. One day, she collapsed. A couple of weeks later, Griffin had a stroke and died too. They were exactly the same age and I don’t believe for a minute that their nearly simultaneous passing was a coincidence.

After the two hounds were gone, the pack did not sing for half a year. One day, mourning ended and they started to sing again.

Great Griffin

What was Tinker’s true cost? We paid $700 for her as a pup. She caused thousands of dollars of damage to electronics, furniture, shoes, books, DVDs, videotapes, dolls, stuffies — who knows what else?

She paid us back and more. When I was ill, Tinker never left my side. When I was back from surgery, missing another piece of me and in pain, Tinker was there, never placing a paw where it would hurt me. How much is that worth? What is the true cost of a lifetime love of a dear friend?


Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

59 thoughts on “FOR LOVE OF A DOG – TINKER”

  1. The love of a dog is such a pure, unconditional love that it simply demands an equally pure, unconditional love in return. Buster the schnauzer has unleashed his destructive powers on every door frame and window frame in the house, but the loss of a few bit of wood seem a small price to pay for being so adored. Tinker sounds like she was one in a million!


    1. She was indeed absolutely unique. Even among her breed, she was different. I miss her, even though I’m glad I don’t have to hide EVERYTHING anymore. It has taken Garry and I years to recover enough to actually leave something out on a table and not expect it consumed before morning. The weird part was that she wasn’t a destructive puppy. It was as a vengeful adult dog that she ate the entire world. But what a sweetheart she was. Buster reminds me of her. About the same size with the ever-dirty beard 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What wonderful memories you have of Tinker. Those humans in animal clothing just steal your heart. No matter what they make kaput, they are forgiven. We just misunderstand them. But they leave their marks on your life forever.


  3. Oh my Gosh Marilyn, I read it and got tears in my eyes, still missing our special dog so much. She will be gone 2 year Memorial Day weekend and it seems like just yesterday that we played. There is no price on dog love.


      1. I tried to find a puppy similar to the one we had to let go, then I realized that wouldn’t be fair at all. She was a one of a kind dog. If we get another one, then another rescue totally different.


        1. I have done the same thing for the same reason. I don’t want a dog just like the other beloved one. It can be the same breed, but not the same color, from a different bloodline. Or a different kind of dog altogether. You can never replace a dog. Or cat. Not really.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Tinker is smiling as she reads this lovely and moving tribute. She was all those things and more. I still remember as we sat with her in her final moments. She looked directly at me. It was devestating, to say the least.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. How this story just grabbed my Heart and then some. Tinker lives on in your memories and in your Heart. The really tough part about Loving an animal, is that we usually outlive them. And that is truly Heartbreaking. (((HUGS))) Amy ❤


      1. I know. I Love many cats, who have special needs. Believe me when it is time to say goodbye, it just about breaks me to pieces. I truly am so sorry for your loss. I understand in spades the Heartache involved. ❤


          1. As so have I. My Dad just passed this past January and even though I took it hard, and still am some days, the deep feelings I have when I loose one of my babies, was not there. That sounds horrible to anyone who does not experience the type of Love only a pet can bring you. But nonetheless, it is true. (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

            Liked by 1 person

  5. A beautiful post Marilyn. I can’t get over what she did to the remotes. They were about 11 on your scale of being Tinkered. But that pales in comparison to the joy she has brought to your family


    1. I never entirely processed losing Tinker and then Griffin. I was fresh out of a bilateral mastectomy. They both went suddenly, one right after the other. So FAST. Neither was sick, then both were gone.


    1. Not only could she open gates and doors, she could also close them. A lot of dogs and cats learn to open them, but Tinker closed them behind her so you didn’t know she was where she wasn’t supposed to be. She was quite a handful!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s how I feel, too. We live through many passings of our pets … generations of “families” of pets. We see them as kittens and puppies, then maturing dogs and cats … and suddenly, where did the time go? Too soon old, way too soon.


  6. Dogs steal out hearts and the saddest thing is they don’t live as long as us generally. The upside of the pain is the love you felt for Tinker and the love she gave back. Bless you and content yourself with the fact that you had such a special bond.


    1. We do. We have lost so many dogs over the years. We don’t have to like it, but we understand. That’s the way it is. And, after a while, we remember, and we love them for all the times they were there for us.


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