Tyler and I met in 2006 after the death of my last dogs, Kobe and Cindy. Sadly, on Tuesday June 20, 2017 around 5 p.m. he died.
He was my bodyguard. He was my forever friend. And he loved everyone he met. He was beautiful in body and spirit. But now he’s gone and I’m devastated.
We met in August 2006, one day after my last dogs died of illness and old age. When I first saw him, he was locked in a cage at the local animal shelter next to about 8 other large dogs that were barking their heads off. Only Tyler was silent, leaning back against the cage, looking up at me and ‘smiling’, happy to see me.
He was bigger than any dog I’d had before, plus he was part Shepherd, so I wasn’t sure of his temperament. We spent four hours together outside behind the shelter where I tried to get acquainted with him, but he wasn’t interested. He was just glad to be outside and anxious to find out what was in the next field.
Eventually, I determined that we weren’t going to get anywhere, so I said, “I think I can work with you.” Thirty minutes later, we were in the car heading home.
To my surprise, he turned out to have basic obedience training, which meant I didn’t have to worry about house training, sit, stay, although he did need a bit more work on ‘stay’, as he was a very determined and independent fellow.
Tyler loved his long walks down the block and into the forest where his nose could delight in all the smells and track other dogs that had gone before. He loved rides in the car because even though some were to the vet, he liked the vet and staff, and they loved him. He was so sweet, patient and a willing patient, seldom struggling, never biting. Our other trips meant walks in new forests or along riverbanks he’d never seen before.
He had free reign of the house, yet he preferred to stay beside me. He particularly liked hogging half of the bed while we slept – probably hoping to push me right out onto the floor.
One of his favorite activities was to play with his Chuckee ball. He managed to destroy about 8 of them over time, he was such an efficient chewer. Good thing, because it sure kept his teeth white and strong into old age. He also loved to stare. Always watching me and staring, he was so confident. You could stare back at him for several minutes, but he wouldn’t look away. Until he got bored.
In the past two years or so, he suffered a lot of pain from arthritis in his back, so the vet says. Then one day, his right rear leg became useless. The vet thought he had a serious neurological problem but it turned out to be a possible slipped disc, because two weeks later, he started using it again. We were encouraged.
During the last two weeks, he struggled to make his way up the street 5 to 15 houses. And then, the worst happened. His right rear leg went again, and shortly after, so did his left rear leg. He could barely turn himself over on his bed, only swivel and then give up. He had no use of his back legs, so I helped him out to relieve himself using a special sling. That same day, I called the vet about a possible injection that might remedy his paralysis.
We went through his usual morning routine, I fed him on his bed, and then we went out to the car and to the vet. When we arrived, the vet did a thorough check of his body and said that the injection probably wouldn’t help him, but we could try. But Tyler had looked at me a few days prior, somewhat teary-eyed as if he knew the end was here and that we would have to part.
I knew it too, but didn’t want to give up. I loved him… and still do. It was just too painful to think of life without him. But I realized he couldn’t go on. He couldn’t even raise his body as he lay on the floor at the vet. I gave the vet the go-ahead. Shortly after, he slowly slipped away peacefully.
It was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life. The images of his last hours haunt me daily. My house is full of dead space, and it’s too painful. I have his ashes, ready to be buried with me when I go, along with the ashes of my previous two dogs, Cindy and Kobe.
So now I wait, and wonder, and just don’t care about anything. It’s sure to pass eventually, as it did with Nikki, my first pet loss some 20+ years ago. In the meantime, I’m searching for another dog but it’s tough because all I can think about his getting Tyler back.
In one of my posts, I wrote that euthanasia isn’t as bad as it sounds. True, the actual peaceful passing that this method provides is somewhat comforting. But the pain of loss is unbearable.
Goodbye Tyler! I love you. And hope we meet again.