Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tyra 'Puppy Monster' Best

Tyra Best

11-13-02 to 8-27-14

She was 'only a dog', but she was the 'once in a lifetime' dog that all others are compared to.  She was a GREAT, GREAT dog.  We miss her.

The beauty of animal ownership, aside from the obvious; the loyalty, the companionship, the field work that they do in their breed's disciple, is that it is an opportunity to experience 'life lessons' #1, unconditional love, #29, loss and #30, grieving.  I've heard it said many times in numerous ways.  They only live a short period of time.  I don't want to get attached.  I don't want my kids to have to experience the loss of them...

But those experiences are an important part of who we become.  They teach us so much about life and about ourselves.  Mostly, how we could be better _________ (you fill in the blanks)... communicators, friends, at showing appreciation, at recognizing the little blessings in life, at loving without reservation.  They open their hearts and give us everything they have to offer.  No strings attached.  No questions asked.

So our Tyra, the one of 12 little 'accidents' that prompted an early December 2012 phone call from a friend wondering if we wanted a puppy, spent twelve years caring for and LOVING our family.  A family that couldn't be more blessed by her constant presence in our lives if we had special ordered her and ponied up cash for her.

Tyra 'Puppy Monster' Best on New Years Eve 2002.  She was eight weeks old when we got her.

I remember going to the movie, Marley and Me in the theater over Christmas vacation one year and thinking "Uffda.  I would NOT tolerate that deviant behavior.  It would be a one way trip to the wood pile for that dog."  And thankfully, outside of chewing up all the Christmas presents in 2003 (in her defense, we had wrapped a box of milk bones for her and as she spent Christmas Eve service in the pickup with the presents, well...), chewing up a few pairs of shoes (cosmetic damage only), and scratching up a garage door (again, only cometic) to make her great escape as a puppy, she was pretty much "PERFECT".  I will also quickly point out that after being disciplined for each of these violations, there were never repeat incidents.  Tyra was a people pleaser whose most appreciated praise was having sticks or tennis balls thrown for her.

For a couple who didn't see the possibility of children in their future, she spent the first six years of her life with people who had the time to take her hunting and road tripping.  The analysis by Pete determined that she knew over 30 words / commands and had an arsenal of tricks to entertain people with.

One of our many 'pre-Kyle' Christmas card pictures with the T-Dog.
Oh, there was one very, very naughty black mark on her record.  She wasn't a fan of cats.  Particularly kittens.  She didn't chase them, but if they disrespected her by rubbing against her legs... well it could possibly end poorly for the kitten.

There were however, cats that she had built a relationship with.  For those cats she exhibited amazing tolerance.
After six years of being the 'one and only', she welcomed Kyle into our family and became his full time play mate and part time foot warmer at bedtime.  She was always a fan of his, but found exuberant loyalty when he became proficient with the Chuck-It.

The always gentle, always kind Tyra checking out baby Kyle in his Christmas pajamas - 2008.

Our first day of kindergarten - 8-25-14.
The winter of 2009 - 10 Tyra spent with restricted, minimal activity based off Doctors orders to heel a torn ligament in her knee.  Outside of that little episode and the development of cataracts the last two years, Tyra had been completely healthy.  Again, another of the many blessings she provided us.  In late July, I noticed a tumor growing on her side.  Pete took her in to Dr. Seth at the Watford City Veterinary Center.  He plated it and informed us that she had weeks, maybe months to live.  She was in a terminal state without question.  We sent Gunner home for the remainder of the time and spent it enjoying our dog in a way and looking back, with perspective that I am so thankful for.  Life can get so away from us and we forget that in the end, happiness is in the journey, not in the destination.  It isn't how many pheasants that you bring home, but how you feel during the thrill of the hunt, locking on and pointing one out and flushing it up... and of course retrieving it like only God programmed your DNA to live for should your person be a good shot.  Yes.  On occasion she fired Pete and moved over to the 'hot shot' without a dog, usually Kurt.

The morning of August 27th after sending Kyle off on the bus.  She was a GREAT DOG.

Shortly after this photo, I made the call.  It had been a rough night for her.  After we got Kyle on the bus and the guys headed out for the day with their 'to do' lists of ranch work, I threw Tyra a tennis ball.  For the first time ever, she quit.  She looked at me, but wouldn't pick the ball up and bring it back to me.  She would look down at it and look back at me, but she wouldn't scoop it up and bring it back.  She was communicating to me the thing I didn't want to hear.  She was ready.  It was time.  I called Dr. Seth and sobbed on the phone to him that I thought it was time.  Could he send someone out after the clinic closed and after Kyle had a chance to say good-bye when he got home from school?  I worked in the office that day.  She was restless and evidence of pain showed that the cancer was spreading throughout her entire body and consuming it.  She did her best to lay in her spot by my office chair like she had done for so long and in numerous home offices from Bismarck, Dickinson, Williston and Watford City, but she was full of pain.

Kyle got home that day.  We talked about the fact that when he went to bed that night he would never see Tyra again, on Earth.  He questioned why Dr. Bruce and Dr. Seth couldn't fix her.  The complexities were discussed, but the bottom line was that we needed to do what was best for Tyra and not for us (who didn't want to say good-bye just yet (or ever)).  Interestingly enough, we had watched the movie, Heaven Is For Real a few weeks back and I found it comforting at this difficult time during this difficult conversation with a 5 year old.  Kyle said his good-byes.  I was proud of him.  They were composed, thoughtful, heartfelt good-byes.  I was crying.  He turned from her and started walking toward me and said, "Well Tyra, see ya in heaven good dog" and then he whispered to me, "Hey Mom.  Can we get a puppy now."  Sigh...

Pete and Brad got home around 8:00.  It was the most perfect evening in God's country.  No bugs.  Still as could be.  Partly overcast.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  Pete started a fire in the pit and proceeded to procure Tyra's resting place on the ridge overlooking the beautiful valley that falls away behind our house.  She more than earned that spot and it was the least we could do for her.

Tyra taking in her last evening with us.
A bit after dark, August 27th, on one of her favorite blankets, Tyra took her last breath and said good-bye to us.  It was a good death which ended the good life of a GREAT dog.  I sent her away with hopes that Kurt (who she adored) was in need of a good (or at least an enthusiastic) bird dog.  That night was one of the darkest skies in recent memory with one of the brightest sets of stars in a long time.  Maybe the stars have been there and we just haven't paused to take the time to consider them.  Or, maybe heaven was joyful to receive a kind and gentle soul that night.

A week has passed and each of us at our own time has visited her.  Kyle doesn't know it, but he is being watched when he does.  He will find a ball or a bone lying around and naturally he hauls it to her and drops it on the disturbed soil.  He hasn't asked for a puppy since 'the whispers of the 27th'.  Don't tell him this, but he will get one some day.  It will be a couple years from now, but I suspect we will know when the time is right and when life lessons #1, #29 and #30 need a kind, gentle canine soul for a young blonde haired boy.  A canine soul that will teach a young blonde haired boy how to be a better person.  A young blonde haired boy who will some day be a man who had that 'once in a lifetime' dog.

R.I.P. Tyra Best.

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