Not all these tales are perfectly happy. For starters, Tyson had no tail. A docking job gone poorly. Good thing they left his soft floppy ears alone. Tyson was a stray, turned in to the boxer rescue still dragging a heavy chain around his neck. He’d probably been used as a guard dog. He had busted loose, looking for freedom and a better life at the age of 4-ish.
Meanwhile, my life was headed towards another rough patch. After enjoying my nice promotion for a few years, our company was going through a reorganization affecting me and my staff. What better way to take your mind off problems than to create new ones? Since I had no control over this situation, I decided to go save another boxer. It was a disastrous decision, but with a few heart warming and humorous moments.
Unlike my first boxer adoption, I went alone – this time to Hattiesburg – to meet Tyson at his foster Mom’s. He initially growled at me. No worries, I had lots of experience in ignoring red flags. I could do this; win him over and integrate him into my household. By the time we got in my car, he decided I was ok and we had an uneventful ride home. For the first few months he was quiet and deferential to the other dogs. The exception was how he would nash his teeth and throw himself at the front door whenever a stranger came knocking. I didn’t need to worry about anyone sneaking in. Oddly, anyone coming through the garage door was fine sort of “good guy test.” Everyone who was allowed to enter the garage door, with or without me, was fine; parents, friends, dog sitter, etc.
Tyson didn’t play with toys. He’d not been socialized well. Since he and Buster just tolerated each other, Shaylea must have taught him what to do. I was excited to snap this photo of him playing with a toy after months of just hanging out or terrorizing the mail courier.
Eventually, the corporate reorganization was complete and it was announced that someone else was appointed my job. I was stunned (I had been sent to Harvard for executive development just the year before.) I was placed on a project team to facilitate the reorganization. I could explain how much this sucked for one’s self-esteem and confidence, but this is a boxer tale. I was upset and the dogs became restless. Tyson was the first to detect the link in the chain of command. He began asserting himself with the other dogs, especially Buster. I tried for a few weeks to re-home him. I didn’t dare turn him back to the rescue. That would be admitting failure and I was already feeling like one. I was going to keep working on this. I hired a private canine behaviorist. He growled at her. My God. I tried again to find him a new home. Only people looking for guard dogs were interested. No.
Even though he loved and trusted me, I owned a dog that was an ass. I ended up dividing my home in half. Buster on one side, Tyson on the other. Buster stayed on the side with the master suite. Tyson got the front hall and living room where he could continue to harass unwanted solicitors. Shaylea, being the Queen B, was allowed anywhere in the house by granting her access through the doggie gates. When I was transferred to Texas, I actually looked at homes through the lens of someone who would have to separate her pets. When I moved, a friend helped me transport the 3 boxers, since I didn’t dare drive 7 hours with them all in one car.
Once in Texas, I again divided the house and repeated the process of socializing Tyson to vets, pet sitters, friends and neighbors. It was in Texas that I learned Tyson only acted like a Helion when I was present. I consistently got feedback that he was sweet and obedient when he wasn’t protecting me. Life got a little easier, unless I was walking him. Have you ever been jerked off your feet by a dog? Because I lived in a more populated area, we walked only when the sun was down.
After being in Texas a few years, the vet diagnosed Tyson with cancer that had spread to his heart and lungs. By this time, Buster had already passed. Tyson passed a few months later. I loved him like a Mother loves a bad child and he loved me, but my life became so much easier over night. Even though I felt like a failed rescue Mom, I know I did not fail him. He had a better life with us. The next morning I slept in, removed the dog gates and walked Shaylea in the sunshine.