It’s been four weeks since we said goodbye to Tyler aka The Big Girl. We held her gently while she dozed into that deep sleep that comes when legs have run far enough, a bark has softened and all the adventures to be had are now exhausted.
Tyler ran and barked and had adventures for 11 years. She came to us as a tiny puppy, abandoned in a box in the middle of a road with one brother for company. Were they dumped there to be run over? Did they fall, literally, off the back of a truck? We’ll never know.
What we do know is that the abandoned puppy, who was so small she wore a belled cat collar so we wouldn’t step on her, grew to be 40 kilograms of energy and physical strength, the type of dog who publicly exuded the air of her breeding – German Shepherd, Mastiff, perhaps Ridgeback. In private, she was a sook, pushing onto and into the bed between us for comfort, resting her head on our laps with those intense eyes never leaving our faces. She hated large loud people and would hide under the table assessing if they be friend or foe.
Tyler loved us all fiercely with the kind of love that a dog has when she knows she has received a second chance at life. She protected us and her loyalties lay with those she knew to be her friends – Jill who rescued her, Ange and Nick and Charlie their Dalmatian who she adored with the force of a whirlwind. She would greet them with a joy that had no bounds, crying and barking and racing about like a mad thing. When we returned home from work each day, she would streak to a bedroom to grab a shoe that she would wave in triumph as she danced down the hallway into the lounge then land, satisfied, on her bed.
And she loved Bailey who we brought home to keep her company after the loss of Tyler’s mentor, Boompa. There was just four months’ difference in their ages but Tyler was the leader. When she was too big to use the cat door, she figured how to pull the screen door open then whip around to enter the house. Bailey, alas, couldn’t work this out for love or money. Tyler simply held the screen door open for her, the concierge of Bailey’s life.
She was the bravest of dogs yet her courage was underwritten by an anxiety that we could never fathom. She destroyed a fence to chase burglars away one day when we were at work; from that day on there would, in her mind, be a burglar behind every noise, every storm. She ate and tore and dug her way through walls and weatherboards and iron fences to chase the imagined invaders away. She would escape to the back lane then reconnaisance with Bailey at the front gate, pulling it apart to liberate her best mate and accomplice.
She was so big, so loud, such a presence in our lives. Yet, she was the most gentle of dogs. I found her in the back yard, one morning, guarding a tiny bird stranded on our fence. She sat completely still yet completely relaxed with not a hint of any intent other than “Here, tiny creature, I will stay with you until you are rescued”.
Solicitous was the word that struck me that morning; she was solicitous and concerned and…..kind. This huge lug of a dog, who had once broken my nose with the full force of her head, was kind and gentle and loyal and loving. She loved us, I’ve no doubt. And we? We’ll never stop loving her. Ever.