In September of 2000 I adopted a brindle male pit bull from a local pound. From the first moment I saw him, I knew I’d take him. His initial reaction to me, though, was a low growl. I was told he didn’t like men. But it only took a moment for him to feel my goodwill and shift accordingly. In those days, I was re-homing unwanted pit bulls and it was my intent to find him a permanent home. As I drove home with him, Jonesy my retriever sat in front, and Ty named “Tiger” by the ACO, sat leaning against the backseat and looked out the open window. He was quiet, seemed anxious rather than happy. I could almost see a thought bubble over his head reading, “Now what will life be?”
He quickly settled in and as part of our pack of three. I’d put down my beloved Zeus in July of that summer and was glad to have a new member in our family. Ty and Jonesy got along but were so different they were never close. Still, they shared modest kinship.
It’s always a challenge to re-home a dog-aggressive dog. Ty’s potential aggression towards dominant adult dogs was an obstacle and after a number of months living with us, I recognized staying with us would serve him best. He then became one of us terminating my days as a micro-dog rescue. “Ty ‘n Jonesy” – it just rolls off the tongue and for more than eight years we three enjoyed all aspects of life together.
There are countless stories I could tell about Ty, his gentleness with puppies and his playfulness with any dog that accepted him, his hours lounging on the sunny window sill. In warm months we swam across the pond and back almost daily. And together we logged hundreds of miles mountain biking, inline skating, hiking and walking ocean beaches. As a pack, the three of us canoe camped the North Woods, we lived primitively sleeping together in the truck, or we went to grandma & grandpa’s house for treats and snoozing. We drove to Ohio several times and in March of 2006 Ty and I drove to Arkansas to hike, camp and explore. He was an outstanding travel companion. He had a way of sitting in the copilot seat and looking back at me over his shoulder. I could see the love and attachment in his eyes.
Most nights of his life he slept under the covers with me. Once in bed he’d lick his feet often to point that I’d tap his back and say, “go to sleep.” I suspect his mommy licked her pups before they slept and this was self-soothing for him. Ty was the only pit bull I’ve ever heard of who would howl and together we had howling parties.
I often thought Ty could possibly be the most photographed dog on Earth, no exaggeration. I’m a photo nut and he was my favorite subject. The few photos below are in no particular order and are the tiniest fraction. This blog is full of others, I tried not to repeat. I have thousands.
I put Jonesy down in November of 2008 and later that month took in Mak who became Ty’s best friend. They enjoyed a level of closeness never achieved with Jonesy. They often played together, slept together and acted like brothers. Ty was more independent, Mak more needy, so though I spent a lot of time with Mak I always made sure to caress Ty and reassure him of his place in my heart.
Unlike Joneys who often took a back seat to horses and later rescue dogs, Ty was fortunate to never take a back seat. So I feel no guilt. I provided the best life I could, and with my eight weeks vacation per year, he had the highest quality of life possible for a dog who couldn’t accompany his owner to work. As readers know, my dogs are the center of my life. Because of that, their loss is poignant. On April 17, 2014 at about 18:50 I had him put down. His life had become a struggle. He was born March 8th of 1999 and had more than fifteen years of life. I’m told by both vet and a friend who is an expert on the breed, that this is unusually long for a pit bull.
And though I can’t know what the future holds, Ty had almost 14 of my finest years on Earth, his presence gave us our premium chapter of shared existence. For those of us who live alone with our dogs, losing one is like losing a partner, a child and one’s most steadfast companion.
Am I projecting or is Mak depressed too? Since yesterday evening he’s been subdued, lethargic. He’s poked around the rooms seemingly in search. One experienced friend tells me she’s never known dogs to be depressed over the loss of another. Yet another friend who also lived with multiple dogs for years told me it usually took several days for the pack to get beyond the hole of a missing member. And Mak is an extraordinarily sensitive dog.
But one this is sure, our home and pack is not the same without Ty. It hurts and it sucks. I miss him. I think WE miss him. He was a great friend and I’ll remember, love and miss him forever.
The first time I met him, a foregone conclusion to adopt.
Cradling my new baby boy. Fall 2001.
Ty ‘n Jonesy mattressing.
One of his favorite spots, the sunny window sill.
Paddling the North Woods.
A loving look from the copilot.
Yep, we howled together.
Peas in a pod.
Early autumn sun.
A hot summer day was always the best for biking The Gorge.
Stopping for a drink while biking The Gorge.
Greeting the dewy morning after snuggling a night in the truck.
My boy keeps watch as I snooze.
“Dad, I love these hikes.”
Ty ‘n Jonesy enjoy warm sun on the shores of big water.
Keepin’ him toasty in chilly drizzle.
A quick dip before a downpour in the North Woods.
Ash Cave Ohio. One of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.
Chilly evening down by the river.
A moment of levity while washing up on a North Woods trip.
A wet one from a picnic table.
Ty gags on his favorite faux pas: grass! His insistence that this CANADIAN grass won’t make him barf in the house leaves me unconvinced.
Donna saves the day by giving him cherry yogurt instead.
A spring weekend is the perfect time to hike.
Spring in a hidden hollow.
How many countless miles, dirt roads and trails did we do like this?
Napping in afternoon sun on a long camping excursion.
Thundering falls in the North Woods.
Stopping for a kiss in drizzle on remote, uncontrolled land.
Always the finest travel companion.
Enjoying a smoke on Native American spiritual land.
Playing on the bike path in the moonlight.
Checking the Ozark caves.
Night hike in freezing rain.
Climbing one of many firetowers.
Napping while stuffed with Grandma’s treats.
We never tired of running The Swamp.
Time out from biking for a kiss.
Biking The Swamp.
Hawksbill Crag, Arkansas.
Late afternoon exercise.
Keeping him warm with my down vest.
Checking out the river in flood.
Fields of snow and afternoon sun.
Our apartment in the Ozarks.
My boy tells me he loves me.
Biking along the tracks. Ty loved to chase freighters.
Late afternoon sun at the end of a biking run.
More mountain biking. We logged hundreds and hundreds of miles.
We explore one of the northeast’s mysterious stone chambers.
March 2014, his very last time at the ocean. He loved the beach!