« Back to rhjr.net

Rest in peace, Tyler

For those who have been following our search:

Yesterday, two volunteers hiked around the mountain preserve again, and they found Tyler.

Sometime in the past couple of days, for a reason I will never know, Tyler walked around to the other side of the mountain, near a service road that leads up to a water tower on the Cave Creek side. Just off the right side of the road, he crawled under a tree, he laid down, and he died.

The two volunteers, Jennifer and John from Mayday Pit Bull Rescue (the foster organization we’d worked with to find him a new home), and myself went to him. They wrapped him in a blanket, put him on a makeshift stretcher, and carried him down from the mountain. We brought him to the emergency animal clinic in west Phoenix; they work with a cremation service there. Tyler’s ashes will be returned to us in a couple of weeks.


When we took him in, he was injured, malnourished, and terrified of every sudden movement, noise, and person. We did everything in our power to give him the best nine months he could possibly have had. To prepare him to be proud and confident on his own. To enable him to be as happy as he deserved to be. To assure him he would never be hurt, abused, or neglected again. To give him the chance to live a long, happy life.

When Tyler came to us, I saw myself in him. He never had the great start to life he should have had, and despite that, he found a way out, and found a way into a situation where he could learn to be happy. Where he could grow. His story echoed my own. Every single day I knew him, I felt proud of him.

We were all so confident that Rachel, his would-be new owner, was the right person for him. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

Less than nine hours after leaving him in her care, she did the exact thing we explicitly told her not to do, the one thing that most blatantly defies common sense: she let him off of his leash. In less than nine hours, she took away everything we did, everything we hoped for, and every chance Tyler would ever have at living the life he deserved.

Tyler was depending on Rachel. We were depending on her. She failed at her commitment to love and support this wonderful, sweet, and loyal dog so miserably and so quickly that it has absolutely stunned each and every one of the amazing people that have volunteered their time and energy to bring Tyler home safely. Even worse, Rachel opted out of continuing to aid in the search, citing her outrageously absurd belief that Tyler would simply go back to doing what nature designed him to do best: be one with the Earth through his nomadic and migratory instincts.

People who never met Tyler, my wife, nor myself came to the area night after night, morning after morning. They hiked through the preserve. They walked neighborhoods. They posted flyers. They talked to everyone they came across. Every last one of them did so much more than Rachel could be bothered to do. Every one of them cared so much more than she ever could.

I wish more than words can say that last Saturday had never happened — that we had decided to keep Tyler ourselves and not brought him to his new owner’s apartment and said goodbye. I wish we had been able to see her naivete and arrogance before it was too late. I wish so many things were just slightly different than they were.

I will never forgive Rachel for her foolish and fatal decision. Tyler will never have the chance.

But far beyond this, the focus of our anger must be on whomever was responsible for Tyler before he ended up in our alley nine months ago. This person’s abuse and neglect and ambivalence were the reason Tyler was afraid of human beings. The reason he was malnourished. The reason he was injured.

Simply and directly: Tyler should never have needed saving.

To those who sent your support and well-wishing and condolences over the past week since Tyler’s disappearance, thank you. I have been overwhelmed by the support of the Twitter and Facebook communities, and I will never forget all that you have done to help us stay motivated and hopeful and positive. I wish so desperately that I could report a very different outcome today. Alas, Tyler’s story has become a tragedy that defines a moment in my life I will never forget.

I don’t yet know how we’ll honor Tyler’s life, but I do know this: he will be honored.

Rest in peace, Tyler. We love you. We miss you.

Help save other dogs in Tyler’s honor (use the “click here” link). Every dollar helps. Thank you.

This slice was posted on Sunday, July 12th, 2009 at 1:07 pm.