March 11, 2013 is a day I’ll remember. That was the day I lost one of my best friends. I’m writing this so I’ll never forget some of my bud’s actions, reactions and attributes that made him what he was. People call dogs man’s best friend and in this case that proved to be true for me in many ways.
I brought Tyler home from Madison Indiana in June of 2005, when he was just 7 weeks old. We had the vet there lie about his age because the FAA required a pup to be 8 weeks old in order to fly on a plane.
I picked Ty out of the litter because when he and his brothers and sisters were learning to eat solid food, the dish from which they were eating was taken away. Some of the pups tried to attack whoever was taking their food, a couple just stood there, and two, Ty and his little sister, turned and walk away. It was thought that the ones that walked away during this little test would be the smartest of the bunch. Turns out I never saw any dog as smart as he turned out to be.
I still remember every detail of the getting that little pup home. Things went well on the flight from Indianapolis to Chicago. The plane’s seats were high enough off the floor for Ty’s carrier to fit under them. He was the center of attention at O’Hare, and some young girl carried my things through the airport screening area so I could manage him and his carrier. The plane for the flight from Chicago to Spokane had to be held on the runway because his carrier wouldn’t fit under a seat. This plane’s seats were lower to floor. The flight attendants had to make some guy move from an exit row to allow Ty and I the room we needed before the plane could take off. It was a full fight and I don’t think many of the passengers were as happy to have a Doberman pup with them as I was. It was late when we got home so I let him sleep on our bed. He had kind of a messy accident on the bed that first night, oops.
Ty, Tyler, Teedoo, Tyyoo, Tee was supposed to be Sarah’s dog. It never worked out that way. He was with me all day every day. I had heard a trait of Dobermans was their attachment to one person. That was never in doubt with Ty. He was mine and I was his hands down. Ty helped me put in an underground sprinkler system that summer he arrived here. To keep him occupied, I made the mistake of letting him chew on pieces of the plastic water line. I lost count of the number of lines I had to replace in his first year. It seemed he thought it was his job to dig those lines up. I did after all let him chew on that plastic pipe all he wanted. I could never get too upset at him for doing it, my mistake caused it.
When Ty was 6 months old he and I went through obedience training. The beginner’s program was supposed to last 6 weeks. After the second week the instructor kept us after class. She told me Ty was being called “Mr. Perfect” by the other people in the class so she was moving Ty and me up to the Intermediate training class the next week. Things weren’t much tougher for him in the intermediate class so she moved us up to the advanced group 2 weeks later. I discovered Tyler wanted to learn and usually only had to be shown something one time. To graduate from Advanced, you had to have the dog sit and stay while you went and hid yourself in a large retail store out of sight. The instructor then told the dog to “seek”. I had crawled up into a pallet rack and hid behind bags of dog food some distance away. I couldn’t hear when the instructor gave Ty the command but it didn’t take long for me to come out of hiding because he had not only found me but was ripping up the bags of dog food trying to climb up where I was at. The instructor timed the event and again asked us to stay after class. She told me that of the hundreds of dogs she had trained, she had seen very few as smart as Ty and wanted to test his intelligent using a standard testing method. The test involved a number of commands that she timed using a stop watch. One of the tests I remember was having him watch a tropical fish tank while I walked away after giving him the command to watch the fish (watch-em). The idea was how long the dog could focus on the task. What we saw Ty doing was watching my reflection in the tank’s glass. While keeping his head still so we would think he was doing what he’d been told, he was in fact keeping his eyes on me. The instructor told me he tested in the upper 10% of every part of the test and was the most intelligent dog she’d ever tested.
I took Ty with me nearly everywhere I went. I had a standard cab pickup at the time. While he had no trouble jumping up onto the seat, I taught him to stop with his front paws up so I could wipe his feet. This also turned out to be something of a bad habit as he got older and wanted me to lift his backend into my truck even though he could and would jump into the truck whenever he wanted. I ended up selling the standard cab pickup and going with an extended cab model so Ty could have his own space. Ty had his own space in our boat and motorhome as well.
Ty loved going fishing. We had a motorhome at a resort and a boat docked there. Ty would prance through the resort to the boat anytime we picked up our poles. He was somewhat spoiled. We would pack his stuffed animal (his teddy) a bone, water, and his blanket along with all of our fishing gear. He had his place in the boat and loved to check out every fish we got into the boat.
Years after we were no longer at that resort, but returned to that same dock to fish, Ty would walk down the dock to the space our boat had been and would have jumped into the boat docked where ours had been had I not stopped him. He would sit on that dock with me rain or shine as long as I was there.
The rare times I left him at home when I went somewhere, he would smile at me when I got home. He had an odd thing he would do when he smiled. He would show his teeth and wrinkle his nose. His smiles were always at appropriate times and he never did that to anyone else. He was always on his best behavior when I took him places. I don’t remember having to raise my voice to him and I don’t recall having to scold him much even as a pup.
He would tiptoe like a cat. While doing this, he would move each of his four legs in as slow of motion as he could and still maintain his balance. Much like a cat does when stalking. It was something to see a 100 pound dog walk in slow motion.
When he played, he would jump around in a circle. Once while on a beach at the Oregon coast, he was chasing his buddy Chazy full speed across the sand. Janet made the mistake of not getting out of his way. Ty hit Janet with his shoulder sending her parallel with the ground. It looked from a distance like an amazing open field tackle. Both Janet and Ty were fine.
Any stuffed animal became his teddy and he would greet Janet every night she got home from work with a teddy for her. He would bring other people he liked a teddy as his way of greeting them. If one of the other dogs had a toy that made a noise he didn’t like or if the noise of the toy was disrupting his nap, he would get up and take whatever toy was making the noise and lay on it.
Ty wasn’t without his rudeness. If I ever left him over night, which I seldom did, he would hide in the basement and not come up for anybody. I don’t remember many accidents in the house from those events. If a person or a dog was around he really didn’t like and he was stuck in a room with them, he would sit with his back to them or keep his head turned away from them so he wouldn’t have to look at those he didn’t like.
He would mother new pups, and wrinkle his lip as a warning when needed. He was hard to walk because he was constantly attempting to be protective and would aggressively bark at any large dog along the way. He loved to go for walks and even on his last day, him on 3 legs and I went for a little walk.
He didn’t seem to have much of a problem with small dogs but was very aggressive towards bigger ones. If we introduced him to a new smaller dog and we called them “babies”, he was generally accepting of them. I could tell Ty to go get “the baby”, or go get some other dog we had and he would go get them and bring them back. Our next door neighbors had a wolf that would frequently get out of their yard. That wolf could be very stubborn. When asked by my neighbor for help Ty would always find his buddy the wolf and get him turned back towards home.
He probably knew 20 or so words and I never had any trouble understanding him. There were times I told him to do something and he would just look at me. An example of this would be telling him to go out in the rain. He’d go but only if I would go with him. Another example would be for me to tell Ty to bring me a “teddy” only to discover the door to the room they were located was closed. He would pee or poop on command even if it took him some time to accomplish it. He would rattle his food dish or step on the food bag when he wanted to be fed. If I ignored him long enough, he would pick his food bowl up and bring it to me so he knew that I fully understood what he’d been trying to tell me.
Dexter was another Doberman I got thinking Ty would play with dog like himself. Ty and Dexter would play. Once when I was downstairs in the shower, the whole house started shaking. Thinking there was an earthquake I jumped out of the shower and opened the bathroom door. Just as I did, Dexter came running by with Ty close behind. They had been playing upstairs directly above me and their mass while playing was causing the house to shake.
One of the more amazing things I saw him do happened when an old cat we had was dying. The cat, looking for a place to crawl in and die, ended up hiding under a corner bench. Two other dogs were here at the time. Those two dogs, sensing the cat’s vulnerability, were attempting to get into the small area where the cat was hiding. Ty came from another room of the house and got between the two dogs and the cat. He growled at the dogs as a warning for them to leave the old cat alone. He then laid down in front of the cat protecting it. The two dogs gave up harassing the old cat and left it alone.
In the summer of 2012 Ty sustained a neck injury. While he somewhat recovered, he was constantly reinjuring himself.
Ty was then diagnosed with Wobblers. Even though I could treat some of the symptoms, x-rays convinced me that the older he got, the more painful his life would become regardless of surgical intervention.
I decided to not let Ty suffer any more pain and end his life while he was still happy and functioning.
As painful as this was for me, it was the right thing to do for him. Ty was still waging his tail while I was petting him the morning of his death. He fought going to sleep when the Vet gave him the sedative and I had to tell him it was OK to go to sleep. I had to close his eyes. A few months before this, Janet said something to the effect that “Tyler would be looking for me until his dying breath”. How painfully true that statement turned out to be.
The Bible is not real clear on the issue of having our pets in Heaven. I have however found some comfort in thinking of my Dad and Tyler together and caring for each other as much as I cared for both of them.
This is my tribute to Tyler. There will never be another like him. I had Ty with me when I was learning to be by myself after having retired. I never felt alone when he was with me. I found he was a faithful of friend as you could have, and of all the friends I had in life, he was one of my best.
From: Frank Simmons