Tyler’s story has been the hardest to write and share. He turned out to be an excellent dog and having him in my life was one of the highlights. He is no longer with us and it kills me that he is gone. I guess because he was such a hard case to crack it made him all the more special. So Grab a cup of Joe, something to nibble on and maybe some tissue and enjoy Tyler’s Story.
My husband found Tyler on the internet. He liked his looks; he was about 8 months old and a handsome devil. We were looking for a dog that my husband could do agility with and also a brother for Mohave while I recuperated from neck surgery. I filled out the necessary paperwork and we set up an appointment to meet him.
We met across the valley at a Walmart which was about half way between our house and the rescue. When the people pulled up and opened the back of their car Tyler was plastered against the metal pet barrier in their car. He really looks like a cartoon character with his feet wrapped around the kennel like barrier. The rescuers already had a leash on him and my husband got him out of the car and took him for a walk to get to know him.
I stayed and talked to the rescuers. They told me about how they came to foster Tyler, his siblings, and their Mom. It seems the mom was a stray who burrowed under the local school where she had her babies. She was part cattle dog a medium size dog with longer hair. They were not sure who the father was but were sure to warn us it may be a Great Dane. By the time the rescuers got to the pups they already had the instilled the fear of people instilled in them. The kind rescuers were not really a dog rescue but a reptile and tortoise rescue. They had not had much time to interact with him and he was afraid of people. Well with a story like that I knew he was my next mission, but I let my hubby feel like he made the decision. It was not hard as we are both big dog lovers.
We paid the fee and thanked the rescuers and the lady cried once everything was done. Even though she only had a short time with him he had touched her life. I could feel his gentle soul already myself. He got into our car ok and we set off to take our new dog home to meet his brother.
We have an acre of fenced land and when we got home and the gates closed we let him off leash. That was the last time Hubby or I touched him for the next six months. He was so scared of my hubby and I we could not get near him, but he and Mohave became fast buddies. Tyler was always better with other dogs than he was with people.
It was at least a month after my surgery before I could get outside to even be out with him and assess the damage to his personality. I was still in a lot of pain and had a long way to go before I would recover enough to be well enough to any kind of training with him.
After two months of trying to get him to come I saw what needed to be done. I needed to ignore him and let him get use to me. In other words I needed to stop trying to touch him and let him come to me. Still in my neck brace I would take a chair out to wherever he and Mohave were laying and just sit there. Eventually he began to know I was going to make no sudden moves to scare him. Our biggest connection was Mohave because he wanted to be wherever he was. If you know anything about Labradors they are most comfortable when they are in some way touching you. That meant if I was outside Mohave was right by me and Tyler was just out of reach. It was time to start positive training. I got the dog cookies out.
Mohave was a cookie hound and for a while there he got most of the cookies and I threw Tyler’s close to him so he did not have to come near. Of course each day his cookies got closer to where I was sitting. Then of course he had to take them out of my hand. I remember the very first time he took one and it was so hard for me not to reach out and grab this big goofy guy and hug him. But I knew it would only ruin what little trust he had for me now.
Almost six months to the day he let me touch him, but only his ear. I cried that day, tears of joy but I knew I had to continue on this same path. Tyler did not come in the house at this time no matter how much we tried to get him in so of course we had to wait until he was ready. During the next month he let me rub his ear, then neck, then back, and so forth. I was overjoyed but our battle was still not over. My hubby could not touch him for another six months.
Mohave became my biggest tool for getting through to Tyler, and the day came when it was time to work on him coming in the house. I kept the back door open so he could see what it was about. He would come in and look but would never get in far enough where I could shut the door. Finally one day he came in and laid on the big dog bed we have in the living room. Eventually he got use to it but it took a lot of patience, and persistence and good dog treats.
Eventually my hubby got to pet him and he came to trust us. He did not trust other people though. He learned tricks or commands when I was teaching Mohave. One day I was teaching Mohave to shake paws. Now mind you Mohave was a great dog but he was never very intelligent. So I was trying to get Mohave to shake (not a good thing to teach a huge, uncoordinated dog when they work with little tiny kids) I was trying to get Mohave to understand what I was teaching him and Tyler came up and put his paw in my hand. He did that with other commands especially with agility. We had some jumps, tunnel, an A Frame, and table where they dogs are suppose to down stay until released. Tyler would run through all of the equipment and be lying on the table before Mohave got through his first jump.
We went on a camping trip one time and got a dog sitter to come and feed the dogs. At this time we had a small Jack Russell Terrier and we had a Chihuahua size door for her to go in and out. She went with us and the boys stayed home. We forgot to lock the dog door and Tyler had a party while we were gone. Oh did I mention it rained? To this day I still cannot figure out how that big guy got through that tiny door. There were muddy dog prints all over the kitchen the counters, the washer and dryer, and our bed. Poor Mohave must have been standing out in the rain watching Tyler through the sliding glass door. We are not sure if he was egging Tyler on or stand in the rain yelling “I’m melting.” That boy hated the rain. Tyler somehow got my husband’s pillow out that tiny dog door and had ripped it to pieces. I can see him and Mohave having a pillow fight. He also stole the laundry soap and threw it all over the yard. Then there was the blanket, my favorite blanket too ripped to shreds. We were amazed and heck it took so long to be able to touch this now big goofy guy he blossomed into a maniac! We never left without locking up the dog door again.
He acted like he was a gymnast bounded across the furniture like he was a little dog. Eventually when I would let them in he would charge into the living room, clear the back of the couch and was standing on the back of it looking at you before you could think. Now mind you that by this time he was closing on 90 pounds. He liked to sit on our laps and hubby and I got big chairs so he could. He got so comfortable you would often find him lying on his back feet curled and I swear it looked like he was smiling. He really turned out to be the most lovable of all our dogs. He was always so cautious with me but at the same time so loving you could not help hugging him and thanking the Lord he let us.
He was stealth and you may never know he was behind you. It may have come from his feral days. It was like he tiptoed when he was in the house. He was always so quite especially if he was sneaking in that tiny dog door.
After Mohave passed away my hubby bought him a bigger dog door. He was afraid he was going to hurt his man parts squeezing in the small one. He was allowed to come and go from the house as he wanted and we never had a problem with him going potty in the house and he never tore anything else up. We did have to buy a trash can with a top on it but it was a small price to pay.
We also started taking him camping with us. I felt bad leaving him home alone and after all we had the motor home, which at the time we were using as a kennel for the little dog why not Tyler too? It saved us 30 dollars a day in dog care. He was so good on these trips I could not get over how good he was. Now remember he was a big dog and there are not a lot of places for a big dog in a small 22 ft. RV. The big guy would lie on the bench seat with his head on the table and would touch nothing. Not even interested, he was just glad to be along. The night that touched me most was the night hubby brought Tyler out to the campfire I expected him to be afraid of the popping of the fire but he surprised me and was nice and calm. By the end of that first weekend he actually was going up to the other campers and wanted them to pet him. What a long road it was but what an amazing transformation, I cried.
Tyler left us not long after that. He somehow ingested a piece of metal and it was ripping up his insides. Out of all of The Dogs Who Loved Me, I feel that Tyler’s rehabilitation was the most dramatic as far as his issues. When I am standing at the pearly gates and they ask what is the best thing you have accomplished I will have to say rehabilitating dogs. It was the most rewarding.
Copyright 2012 Notsofancynancy