On November 6, 2021, after almost 14 years of love and adventures, Tyler went to join Duke in spirit.
A Celebration of Life for the Dog Who Changed My Life
After almost 14 years of life and love, Tyler has gone to join Duke in spirit. The timing was perfect. We had beautiful moments until the very end, and then it was time. He didn’t suffer, but he also had no time left to spare.
There was a dark time in my life when I honestly didn’t think I could survive losing Tyler. He and I had a bond like no other. So it is a bit of a surprise that my overwhelming feeling in the days since his death has been one of gratitude for his life, rather than grief over his death. I miss him deeply and am grieving, of course, but I’m also aware that I couldn’t have asked for a moment or a memory more than he had already given me.
Tyler changed my life. It’s hard to describe his complexity and presence in words. If you met him, you knew: he wasn’t like other dogs. He was stubborn and demanding, but he also had a huge heart and an old-soul wisdom. He showed me a deeper, wiser, more emotional side of animals that I’d never seen before, and it opened up a passion and purpose in me. Tyler was my inspiration to leave corporate and become a pet photographer. A decade later, he continued to inspire me to go beyond pretty pictures and start advocating for greater dog health, happiness and longevity.
He was a model for what is possible when we see the inherent wisdom, divinity and unconditional love in dogs, and learn to give back to them as much as they give to us. He healed me, and he pushed me to learn how I could heal him in return. The end result is that we had almost 14 years of beautiful moments together. To have a Boxer reach almost 14 years is no small feat. I promised him I would keep showing others how they can do the same for their own dogs.
Tyler loved our new life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I’m so grateful he got to experience it. Apparently, he had waited his whole life to be a “farm” dog, and he finally got to live his dream. He loved “checking the perimeter” with me, walking the borders of our property to make sure everything was in place. He loved doing “chores” with me, jogging alongside me as I did yard work. He loved watching sunsets on the deck with me, staying by my side for as long as I chose to stay and watch the sky. He played in Lake Superior, waterfalls, the mouth of the Huron River, forests, lighthouses, and ate dinner at the Mackinac Bridge and just about every roadside park between L’Anse and St. Ignace. One week after he was given a week to live, he was standing in the wild waves of Point Abbaye, grabbing mouthfuls of the Lake Superior water he loved so much. My boy wasn’t one to rest. (Fun fact: Tyler didn’t let me sleep in or take a whole nap for a single day of his life!) He was my constant companion, protector and co-adventurer until the very end.
The day before Tyler died, I had a dream that Duke was a deer and he was waiting at the fence line for Tyler. The day after Tyler died, two deer ran full speed into traffic at a busy intersection, darted right in front of my car, and leapt off into the field on the other side. (At exactly 11:11am. If you know, you know.)
It was an unmistakable sign. Duke found Tyler, and my boys are running through new adventures of their own now. And obviously causing all sorts of trouble, as all good Boxers would.
Run free in love and joy, my heart dog.
Thank you for all you gave us.
I love you more than words will ever be able to say.