Tyler joined our family on March 20th, 1996, about six months after we purchased Green Acres. His previous guardian was looking to place him in a new home, and we thought he would make a welcome addition to our family. We are not sure how old he was when he came to live with us but suspect that he was at least four. Tyler suddenly developed cancer in August of 2003, and while we kept him comfortable for as long as we could, we decided it was time to help him across the Rainbow Bridge on August 26th.
I have always tested as being “very allergic” to cats, so our initial plan was for Tyler to live in the store, where he could greet clients and serve as the official “mouse patrol.” Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, this did not last long. We quickly learned that Tyler was part retriever and lived by the motto, “If it is edible, eat it now, in mass quantities.” He had no compunction about ripping into the largest, most expensive bag of dog food for a little midnight snack. When this became an every night occurrence, we decided it was not economically viable to have Tyler “protect the food from mice.” As a result, he moved into the house with us; allergies be damned.
At the time, there were five adults in the house (Paula, me, Paula’s mom and my mom and dad) and three dogs (Shed, Gus, and Queen). While Paula and her mom had lived with cats before, it was a first for my parents and me. The three of us did not consider ourselves “cat people.” In fact, I would even go so far as to say that my father disliked cats. Tyler did his best to change that and started with the most unlikely subject, my dad.
Dad’s time with us in Maine was difficult. He was in the hospital and nursing home frequently. To my initial amazement, the pet he almost always asked about was Tyler. I still remember asking the nurses at EMMC if we could bring Tyler in to visit, and how happy dad was to see him. He snuggled up on the bed next to him, and the two of them were content as “two bugs in a rug.” I have no idea how Tyler converted dad, but I am very grateful for it. They were good buddies.
We quickly learned that if we wanted to sleep peacefully, we needed to close and latch our bedroom door. Tyler was banned from the bedroom because of my allergies and his desire to try and sleep on our heads. However, early every morning he would come knocking on the door, wanting breakfast. If the door were not latched, he would eventually get it to open, hop on the bed, and start head butting one of us to let us know he was ready for breakfast.
Tyler still liked visiting in the store, and we would occasionally allow him to do so, under supervision. We noticed how well Tyler did with the dogs, and for a couple of years, he would assist Kate and me with dog training classes. I can still remember the time Tyler sauntered through a room full of dogs, not the least bit threatened. There was a huge Great Dane, and he just sat in front of him, gave him “the look,” much like a General inspecting the troops, and then went on his way.
After my father and Paula’s mom had passed in the fall of 1996, Tyler spent lots of time with my mom. He was a great companion for her and gave mom someone to spend time with when Paula and I were working in the store. When Tyler was not on her lap, he was nearby, watching her.
Almost a year after Tyler joined the family, an 8-week old Golden Retriever puppy named Tikken entered the equation. I do not know exactly how their relationship developed, but it was evident Tikken, and Tyler were fast friends. Whether sharing the love seat in the living room, playing or, enjoying a full body massage, they were frequent companions. I will never forget the time I came up to the house from the kennel and found Tyler lying on the couch as Tikken used her front paws to gently bat at his entire body. As strange as it may sound, they were both enjoying this activity. Up until the end, Tikken was around to give her friend kisses, to play, and to clean him as necessary. Tyler got along well with most dogs and enjoyed spending time with them, usually just relaxing.
Tyler was big on relaxing and felt comfortable enough in our home, co-populated with as many as five dogs, to rest anywhere. The arm of a love seat, the floor, boxes, and bags all made excellent spots for chilling out.
As previously stated, when we moved to Maine I was not a “cat person. I had never felt a connection with a cat the same way that I had with dogs. Somewhere during the past couple of years, I am not sure exactly when that changed, and I realize now that I am a cat person. I enjoy their company, their antics, and the joy they bring.
Over the past several months, Tyler and I developed a ritual. Often, when I was working late at night, he would come down to my office, rub up against my legs once, and then settle down on Tikken’s bed, right behind my desk chair. He might just lie there watching me or drift off into a catnap. Often I would find myself watching him. During his naps, I got to witness first hand how cats dream and the strange noises they can make in their sleep. I guess one of the factors in my discovering I am a cat person was when I found myself missing Tyler’s company on the nights he chose not to join me in the office. My office is a sadder place without his presence.
Tyler Hanson passed into a peaceful sleep on Tuesday, August 26th. I know in my heart he has rejoined my father, Shed, and Crystal and is patiently awaiting the day when we will all be reunited. Tyler, thanks for brightening up our home and helping to teach me about the wonder of cats.
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