Yesterday, my brother, Stephen, and his wife, Laura, said goodbye to the third member of their family. Tyson was a big, loveable beast of a dog. His presence was powerful – a loud, booming bark and large, heavy paws that he would put up on your shoulders as he came to say hi. But behind it were sweet, kind eyes. He was the definition of his bark being worse than his bite.

Tyson was a rescue dog. Stephen and Laura found him at the SPCA and they fell in love. His history was a bit of an unknown. They know that he had not been cared for well by his previous owner, but they didn’t have much in the way of details. It took a while for him to begin to be trusting around other people, but quickly adopted my brother and sister-in-law as his family.

Tyson had a few health issues over the few years he was part of Stephen and Laura’s family. But through it all, the family stayed strong. No matter what it took, Tyson got the medicine and treatments he needed, and he continued to get better. This time, unfortunately, his clock ran out.

My brother and I went through the loss of our dog when we were kids. Rusty was my best friend. He was always by my side. I would watch TV and he’d sit next to me with his head on my lap. I’d go to bed, he’d lay across my legs or at my feet. When we had to put him down, it was heart wrenching. Looking back, I know that the life Rusty lived wasn’t as good as it could have (or should have) been. I was too young to take better care of him, and I’ve lived with that regret for much of my adult life. But he was loved. And he loved us. Unconditionally.

I feel deeply for both Stephen and Laura today. I know that they looked at Tyson as not a pet, but as a part of their family. The hole that will be present in their lives will be large. At least they can take solace in knowing that Tyson’s last weeks on this Earth were full of attention, treats and love. They knew Tyson’s days were numbered, so were able to fully devote their time and attention to him; to make sure he knew he was loved, that he was safe.

On days like today, I take a moment to ponder the day in the future when my darling Roxie will leave us. It breaks my heart already. I know that when the day comes, I will be crushed. And that makes me feel all the more for Stephen and Laura today. All of my thoughts and prayers are with you both today.

If you have a pet, take the time today to give your fur-baby an extra hug or kiss today. Let them know what they mean to you. Tell them you love them. It may sound silly to some, but it could be something you regret not doing some day.

Rest in peace, Iron Mike. You are loved. You are missed.

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