Saturday, October 29, 2005
All Dogs Go To Heaven
After 14 years, Tyler has gone to chase rabbits in green, green fields, where beagles are free to roam large and long.
The dog loosely named for "Tylenol" after the "what-shall-we-name-the-new-puppy" game gave us all a headache, Tyler lived a very full dog's life. Often scolded for not being the smartest dog in town, Tyler knew more than he let on: for instance, he knew that Dad was the best person to sit next to at the dinner table and he knew that countertops were only to be investigated when Mom was in the other room. Both very astute things for a dog to know. He also knew that ceramic tiles were the coolest things to sleep on during hot summers, that the insides of shoes were lovely to smell and lick but that chewing on them would land you in hot water, and that a man and his popcorn were soon (and often!) parted.
Desperately and loyally faithful, he loved nothing more than being close to his family and those he loved (loosely interpreted as anyone who might happen to be in the room, whether they ended up giving him treats or not). Until his very last days, he fiercely resented being shut up in another room away from the action, which unfortunately happened more often than not, as he never really learned that, no matter how much they might love dogs, most people do not enjoy being jumped upon in ecstatic joy at their arrival into the room. But he knew his place - dogs were not allowed on the couch (well, when no one was looking) and even the sacred dog bed was to be ceded to the cat (the recently-, and all-too-soon, departed Xena) should she happen to be sleeping there first. Often the bane of Mom's existence, he worshipped the ground she walked on (much to her chagrin, as his constant licking of the floor sometimes drove her batty) and would sit sadly outside the bathroom door should she dare to go to the bathroom without his accompaniment.
Tyler watched us all grow up, from high school through university and college, and he watched us come home to visit, and he never held it against us that we had been gone so long. Whether we had gone eight months or eight minutes, he welcomed us with such postulations and excitement that we were always reminded that we were all #1 in his heart.
The last year was not an easy one for Tyler, as old age caught up with him; in addition to old creaky bones, he had lost a lot of his hearing, and would look at us while finally obeying a command on its 8th repetition with a look of stunned innocence which seemed to say, "Oh, OK, I will come to sit ... Why didn't you just say so?" He did still enjoy, however, the occasional slow-motion game of fetch with his Kong (though he never did learn that "fetch" meant you were supposed to give up the Kong after retrieving it, so that it could be thrown again), as well as rousing renditions of "Throw-Howl-Stalk-Howl-Destroy (Repeat 57 Times)" with his rawhide chewies. Till the end, still a puppy at heart.
We'll miss you, Tyler. And perhaps when you catch a rabbit in Dog Heaven, you will know what to do with it this time ...*
*I actually missed what was perhaps Tyler's finest moment as a non-hunting hunting breed dog. For a number of springs now, my parents' backyard has had visiting rabbits - they don't live on our property but probably come from the woods across the street. Well, one day a few years ago, Tyler was outside when the rabbits came to visit, and he actually managed to catch one small bunny. He held it between his paws, not knowing what to do with it now, but looking oh-so-happy. The bunny, less than content, began to squeal (who knew rabbits squealed?), and Tyler, in his confusion, let it go and it ran off.
I did catch, a year or two ago, the hilarious "Tyler and the Squirrel" episode, where Tyler chased a squirrel across the yard at high speed. Totally freaked out, the squirrel climbed up our fence but was afraid to jump down to the neighbour's yard, not knowing, I guess, whether Tyler could follow him or not. The squirrel sat on the fence, shaking and shivering. Tyler ran around below, barking like a fool. We finally got Tyler in the house, but then he ran around from window to window, madly trying to get out. The squirrel remained shaking and shivering on the fence. Dad decided the best way to get the squirrel off the fence was to spray it with the hose, but no go - the squirrel remained shaking and shivering and now dripping wet on the fence for hours. It took forever to get Tyler calmed down. "Squirrel!" was always the buzzword in our house to get him freaked out and dashing from window to window (it started the first or second year we had him, when we were in Ottawa visiting my grandparents and he saw a squirrel outside from the window), but this was the first (and last) time he'd ever had a chance to actually chase one so freely.