To tell of Tye’s death it seems fitting to first tell of his life. We’re not exactly sure when Tye was born, but I always said his birthday was June 17th, 2002 though I think he was born a little earlier than that. It was late August 2002 when he came into our lives.
It was a Saturday and I had had a yardsale that morning. We’d known for about 3 weeks that I was pregnant with our first baby. We’d also been wanting a puppy and Kevin had been watching ads. He had decided on a Brittany Spaniel because they are great bird dogs, but also great family dogs. During my yardsale he told me that he’d called on an ad he’d seen and wanted to go look. The puppies were a bit older. Closer to 3 months, which made them only $150, which was quite a bargain. We always told Tye that we’d gotten him on sale.
As soon as my yardsale wrapped up we headed out. I don’t remember exactly where the puppies were. Possibly in West or South Jordan. This older gentleman ran a hunting club and had at least 10 dogs in his backyard. Tye’s mom had a litter and the man had sold all but three of the pups, which he’d planned to keep, but his neighbors complained so he decided he’d better sell those too if he could. The puppies were a little older, their tails hadn’t been docked (as most Brittany’s are), and they weren’t papered. They were, however, purebred Brittany Spaniels.
We walked into the backyard and there seemed to be dogs everywhere. There was a big empty swimming pool and the dogs were jumping in and out and running around. The man separated the three puppies from the rest so we could really look at them. There were 2 orange and white puppies and 1 liver and white. They were all male. Kev was looking for a puppy that wasn’t too bold, but wasn’t too timid either. One of the orange and white puppies had the softest, most beautiful face and eyes that I’d ever seen. I was immediately drawn to him.
Kev and I had a deal that he’d choose the puppy and I’d choose the name. Kev looked for a long time. I remember him asking the owner, “Which one do you think is the very best?” to which the man wisely responded, “Whichever one you choose, will be the very best.”
Finally, Kevin chose the liver and white. He seemed to be right in the middle of the other two, temperament-wise. Though I always denied it to Tye, I remember as I walked out to the car to get the money, my eyes watered up a little. I’d had my heart set on the little one with the soft eyes and was a little sad about Kev’s decision.
As we left, I remember seeing Tye’s mother penned in a separate area of the yard. I wish that I’d have gotten a picture of her. She looked so much like what Tye would end up looking like. She was liver and white also and her ears were all perked up, her fur crazy and unwashed. She even had the same crazy tassel of hair on top of her head like Tye always had.
On the way home I held Tye on my lap, but had him sit on a box lid, which seems so funny now. I guess I was afraid he’d pee pee on me. For years after that, we told Tye about how we rescued him from an old dirty swimming pool.
I remember we stopped at Smith’s Marketplace and Kev ran in for a little collar, a leash, and probably some dog food because we didn’t have anything. The next day we drove into Salt Lake again and bought a small dog crate from a lady who was selling one on KSL so we could crate train him.
It’s hard to remember specifics of the first days. I named him Jet, but for some reason that just never seemed right. We called him that for about two days, but the name Tye kept coming to me and that’s what I kept wanting to call him. It was the strangest thing. Finally I asked Kev if it would be OK if we changed it to Tye, which he readily agreed to.
As I try to remember back, I do remember all the training Kevin did with him, but it seems so long ago. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that Tye didn’t already come trained and ready to go.
Something I do remember from the first few days were all the things that were “new” to him and that he was nervous about. He’d never seen stairs before and we had to show him how to climb up and down them. That was adorable. He’d never had a bath before, but decided he liked it after we added toys to it. I remember he seemed a little lonely for the first couple of days, no doubt missing his brothers and the life he’d known for those first three months. I guess that is to be expected though and didn’t last long.
Kev decided that he wanted Tye to ring a bell when he wanted to go outside. He fastened a small bell on the door frame of the back door. It didn’t take Tye long at all to master that. It took him much longer to master his bladder though. I remember him at the back door ringing that bell like crazy with pee pee leaking out all over the place. The dining room had carpet then and got its fair share of dog marking before Tye finally “got” it. Once he got it though that was it. We never had any problems at all with him pee peeing or pooing in the house. He was the master, even to the end. He could hold it 12 or 14 hours. I never worried. Even when he would vomit it was always in the dining room by the back door. I know he went in there trying to get out, but couldn’t so he’d throw up right on the tile where it was an easy clean-up. He was a good, good boy.
The next year, Kevin signed him up with some guy in Salt Lake who helped teach Tye about finding birds. Kev would go with him out to some fields in the west and they would plant birds and Tye would try to find them and point. I remember riding out with him. I’d wait and hold baby Brinkley and watch, while they practiced and learned.
Kevin did a TON of teaching just on his own too. He’d hide pheasant scented dummies in the backyard and Tye would search them out. Kev would shoot blanks while Tye was eating dinner, teaching him not to be gun shy.
Tye’s first real bird hunt was in November 2003 and poor Tye had a cast on. In October we’d been visiting Kevin’s parents, who lived in Spring City at the time and Kev was out running Tye. Kev was driving the truck and Tye was running out in front of it. They’d done this many times, but this time Tye veered over into the truck and Kevin caught his front, left leg. It was the saddest thing. We were so fortunate that a country vet lived about 2 miles down the road. Kev scooped him up and took him there, Tye was crying the whole way. The vet fixed him up, kept him over night, saw him for a follow-up visit, and also removed the cast, all for $126.
As I said, the vet kept him over night that first night. When Kev went the next day to pick him up he said that he and the vet were talking outside, right out the door from where the dogs were kenneled. Tye couldn’t see Kevin, but all of a sudden he heard him and started crying like a baby. The vet chuckled and said that Tye hadn’t made one peep the whole night, but as soon as he heard Kev’s voice he had to start telling Kev all about it.
Tye’s jaw was also damaged a little and I remember he couldn’t eat on his own and his tongue hung loose. Kevin would hand feed him canned food and also pour water into his mouth from a water bottle for the first couple of days.
Luckily, Tye healed beautifully but he had the cast on for his first big hunt. That didn’t slow him down though. Kev said he tore through those fields like nothing doing and found the birds. “He is a great bird dog”. That’s what Kevin has always, always said. When Tye got on a bird and told you about it, he was pretty reliable. You could bet a bird was there.
Other things Kev taught him were sitting and staying, catching a milkbone from his nose, and going to his place. Sometimes Kev would send Tye to his place. We’d look over a few minutes later and he’d slowly started to inch off it. He would always keep a leg on, but would inch off as far as he could so he was still on, but just barely. Tye was extremely obedient when it came to Kevin. Tye would never run out the front door with Kevin around, never jump out of the truck, and would come back home even if he was on a full out run away from the house. He would think he’d gotten away with it until he heard Kevin’s voice. He’d lower his head in defeat and sulk back home. He was this way until he got old. Then he pretended he couldn’t hear Kevin. Kevin always said he had selective hearing. He couldn’t hear when Kev called him from 20 feet away, but he could hear his food hit his bowl from a mile away every time.
Tye trusted Kevin implicitly. Kevin would make him do all kinds of things. He would place him on top of concrete walls and make him walk the length of them, make him sit and stay while we walked a block away then would finally call him to come. Tye would race towards us barking the whole way. Kevin would even blindfold him in the living room and then call him over. Tye would obediently and cautiously follow Kevin’s voice across the room until he reached him. Kevin could make him sit and stay on a sled, and he would stay on the whole way down down the hill. Once Tye got older, he didn’t like baths, and the entire time would want to shake his whole body. He’d never dare do it though if Kev was there. He’d wait until after was toweled down and given the OK. Even worse, Tye hated getting clipped. Twice a year Kevin would put him up on a pedestal and clip his hair short. Tye would be miserable the whole time but wouldn’t move a bit. Kevin would always find some creative way to leave a tuft of hair somewhere that would drive me crazy. Wings, a Mohawk – you name it. Kevin thought it was so funny. He always said that Tye liked it but I knew better. Tye was super embarrassed about it.
When I asked the girls some of their favorite memories of Tye, Lily’s of course was the summer they got married. A few years ago she decided that since Brinkley was born first and had claimed papa, Lily would have to claim Tye. She decided that they would marry at Family Camp 2013. She chose a flower girl and bridesmaids and we had a whole ceremony. The best part was when the “preacher”, Kevin, asked Lily if she’d take Tye to be her lawfully wedded husband and she said “yes”. Then he asked Tye if he would take Lily. It was hot and Tye had been panting constantly so Kevin said, “If the answer is yes, then pant.” At that very moment, Tye stopped panting. Lily had lots of nicknames for him throughout the years, but her favorite and most recent was Soodie. She probably pestered him the most out of anyone, but that also means that she gave him the most attention. It was probably a love/hate for him, but mostly love.
For Brinkley her favorite memory was the time we put shoes on Tye. Kevin had bought these booties for him that he was supposed to wear while he hunted to protect his feet. One night we put them on him and it was the funniest thing ever. He danced and pranced, high stepping as he tried to shake them off. He had no idea how to walk in shoes. He thought they were the most ridiculous things he’d ever seen. Especially at the end, Tye loved Brinkley’s ear massages. She could hit that sweet spot and he would just moan and groan over how good they felt. I tried to do the same thing, but never could get it as good as Brinkley could.
I used to say many things about Tye. One thing is that he was a lover not a fighter. It used to aggravate Kevin some, but Tye was the nicest dog. He never bit or nipped at anyone. He cowered from other aggressive dogs. But that was part of his goodness. He was just a nice, happy dog. He loved everyone and everyone was his friend. I also said that he was the best dog . . .except when he was the worst dog. He loved to run the neighborhood. The old red suburban and I spent the best hours and miles of our lives driving around the neighborhood looking for him. Sometimes it literally took hours. Luckily he always turned up. As he started to slow down he wasn’t nearly so anxious to sneak out, but every once in a while he still would. Just last week, he snuck out an open door and I found him around on 75 North. As soon as he saw me he came a running though. That was a change from when he was younger and would run the other way as fast as he could.
We were joking last night that we were going to start referring to life as BT, DT, or AT - Before Tye, During Tye, or After Tye. Honestly though, it’s hard to remember life Before Tye. It seems like we always had him. Even the early years are fuzzy. It’s hard to believe that he was ever not potty-trained. Or that he ever dug holes in Kev’s yard. Or that we ever had to keep him outside while we were gone because he’d chew things up in the house. It seems like he’s always just been part of the house, part of the couch. That’s where we could always find him. He loved that couch. Several times I declared that I was going to ban him from the couch, but I always gave in. If we’d have guests and they’d be sitting on the couch, he’d sit and stare at them, boring holes into them, until they’d finally move and let him have his spot back.
It was probably about 2 years ago that we started noticing signs of aging. Just small, subtle things. Sometimes he’d have all the energy that he ever had. Sometimes he’d tire out more quickly. He started getting a little stiffer and getting up and down was a bit harder. Even last Spring though he was still running with Kev quite a bit as he trained for his marathon.
We’d taken such good care of him. I honestly thought he’d last at least until he was 14. I used to tell him that we wouldn’t even discuss death until he hit 14 years old. He was so naughty. He never did listen to me.
Tye passed away on Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 12 years and 9 ½ months old. It was quite unexpected and I'm still trying to grasp it. Probably back in the fall he started panting a lot. Then at the very beginning of March he had what we called a breathing episode. He’d gotten excited about something and his panting turned into gasping. He sat on his place and gasped for breath for about 15 minutes. Kev and I were both a bit panicked. We couldn’t get a hold of his vet and didn’t know if there was something we should be doing or if there was even anything we could do. Everyone is a doctor with Google, so Kev went and searched around and decided that Tye had Laryngeal Paralysis, which is a paralyzed larynx. A very dumbed down version is that if he would get excited or anxious the flap over his larynx wouldn't open and he'd end up trying to get air in through a hole the size of a tiny straw. When Kev did talk to the vet, he confirmed that was probably what the problem was. Over the next couple of weeks he had another few episodes, but they weren’t bad. They were quite sad though. Tye would lie there gasping for air. They didn't last too long though and he had always pulled out of them. We'd just been to the vet 2 weeks ago and he seemed to think that if we would keep him calm then Tye could very well live quite a while longer with it.
On Friday we left to go camping and he had quite a bad one on the way up. I don't know what happened, but something changed that afternoon. Friday morning he woke up totally normal (relatively speaking), but by Friday night he passed some point of no return. Saturday he had 5 episodes. Not all were bad ones, but still, that was more in one day than all the previous ones combined. Sunday seemed better. He had one in the morning, but then not another one until Sunday night.
So the episode Sunday night was bad and it lasted longer than the others. Monday he woke up good though. Very low energy, but I got him up for a very short walk (to the next campsite) and he did his business and seemed OK. Our goal for the day was no episodes. He was eating OK and perking up at birds and sounds. I wish so much I'd have gotten some pictures. Later in the afternoon I got him up again and walked him again a short distance. He was OK until he got back to his blanket then as soon as he got back the gasping started. This time it lasted a really long time and he just couldn't pull out of it. Never in a hundred years would I have dreamed that that was the end. We tried to leave him alone when he was having an episode because he just didn’t want to be touched or bothered and sometimes especially having the girls around made him more anxious. I laid by him for a long time on the blanket but I was up and around doing stuff too. We just thought he’d pull out of it. Even at the end, as he weakened, we mistook it for his breathing slowing down and him gaining some control again. It just wasn’t meant to be though. It was just too much and too long for his little body and his heart failed.
I'd prayed and prayed and we'd prayed and prayed as a family that we'd know what to do to help Tye or minimize his suffering. We realized shortly before the end that it was coming and ran around to gather things up to get him to the vet but it was too late. The girls and Kev said their goodbyes then handed him to me in the car and while I held him he took a few last breaths and was gone.
Apparently I've lived a pretty charmed life because this is possibly the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. Either that or I need to put more emphasis on loving people in my life and less on loving my darned dog.
I'm grateful his suffering is finished and he didn't have to suffer too much. I'm grateful I didn't have to make the tough decision of when it was time because I probably would have prolonged his suffering more than necessary. I'm grateful that we were all together and that we're on Spring Break so I can kind of hideaway a little before having to face the world again. I dread going home tomorrow and getting back to my new normal. That dog was a big part of my day every day and the house is going to seem mighty lonely for a while. That being said though, I can’t wait to leave this place too. I’m sure by summer I’ll be recovered and want to come back. Camperworld and my camper have always been my sanctuary but this time it’s just too quiet and too lonely and not enough to keep my thoughts occupied. Plus there are sad memories everywhere I look.
When he died Monday we sat here for a while in a stupor trying to decide what to do. As everyone does, we thought we had more time and so we didn’t really have a plan. I kind of wanted to cremate him, but Kev really wanted to bury him. We finally decided to take him back to Bountiful and bury him up by the “B”, so we did. Monday morning we were sitting with him in the sun with him squinting at the light and watching the birds and Monday night Kev was digging his grave.
I hope he knows how much he was loved and how much he is missed. We all know that pets are just a chapter in our lives and I guess our Tye Chapter has come to a close. I’m glad we got to live it though. And I’m so glad 12 ½ year ago as we stood in the backyard with the empty swimming pool full of dogs that Kevin chose the one that turned out to be “the very best”.