The silence in the apartment is deafening.
Gone is the jingle jangle of dog tags…the soft ‘tick tick’ of tiny paws against the hardwood floors…the barking ANY time someone buzzed the intercom.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Tyler this week. There’s an emptiness that Caroline and I will have to get used to as time goes on. He was a faithful, loving, and loyal companion. For nearly eleven years, I spent most of every day with him. He was always there to remind me to take a break from work, because he needed to go out for a walk – or maybe I needed it.
I have sat down several times to write this post, because writing helps me deal with grief. At first, I detailed his final journey dealing with his failing heart, and then I realized that was not how I wanted to remember him. I remember our many adventures. Not just trips to the park or walks around the block, but journeys – he was very well traveled and actually seemed to enjoy the long car rides with all of the wonderful smells coming in from the windows as we traversed state after state.
He posed for a calendar one year that I sold to raise money for animal rescue shelters. He loved to pose for pictures. And he loved to get dressed up. He even appeared on his own Hallmark card – true story! Our friends and family would refer to him as a ‘dandy’ and a ‘refined gentleman’ because he always wanted to look his best (note the crossed paws in the photo below).
I used to try to put my head in his mouth whenever he yawned pretending that I was a lion tamer. He was a ferocious beast, at least in his own mind.
Or maybe he thought he was a parrot. He loved to ride around on my shoulder.
He loved attention…especially if you had a treat for him…like an ice cream cone.
He knew certain words very well. Saying the word ‘bedtime’ would send him sprinting for the bedroom where he would claim a spot in the bed, only to begrudgingly have to give it up to one of the humans he lived with. He not only knew the words ‘out’ and ‘walk’ – he knew how to spell them…
He was also an escape artist. When he was just a tiny puppy, he learned to get out of the box he was in by chewing his way out of it. When I got a thicker box and put that inside another box, he started launching himself out of them both. When I bought him a cage, he figured out how to undo the locks by pulling on the bolts with his teeth until they came free. He even tore through a heavy duty canvas and nylon kennel – a kennel built for dogs weighing between 150 and 200 pounds. We lovingly tell the story of the time he led a ‘jailbreak’ at the vet’s office when he not only managed to get himself out of his cage, but tried freeing all of the other animals.
He really loved going out for his walks, patrolling the neighborhood, letting everyone know who was in charge, like a king surveying his domain. Occasionally, people I didn’t even recognize would say, “Oh, that’s Tyler!” My friends tell me he used to go out at night when I went to sleep. I will miss our walks…
A few weeks ago, I had a dream where there was a lion sitting in the middle of the room. I approached it, despite the people I was with warning me that the lion was dangerous. The lion sat up and hugged me, we wrestled, it licked my face over and over again. I woke up and looked down at the end of the bed, where Tyler was sound asleep. Now that I think about it, that was the last night that he slept in the bed with us.
I will miss our adventures, the sound of his tags jingling whenever I got home, the way he was almost always under my foot as I walked around the apartment, the way he would talk to me like a wookie explaining what had happened while we were out of the apartment. Thinking about these things both makes me sad that he is gone and makes me realize what a special connection we had.
Fate brought us together, and while he may not be sitting on my lap while I write, laying his head on my ‘mouse arm’ so that I can’t navigate around the computer, I can go to sleep tonight…and dream of lions.