By Jennifer Neault – Tyson’s savior
Tyson’s story began rough, before he and I ever met. Tyson is a pitbull/plotthound mix. He was found as a stray in Texas at 5 months old along with his brother, Pete.
Tyson wasn’t his name at the time. It was Tiberius. They were both suffering from mange, and had stomachs full of trash along with no trust for humans. They were terrified.
From what I was told, neither of them handled being touched in any way very well. They would cower, shriek, and snap. After a bit of training, Tyson was separated from his brother and sent to another rescue in North Carolina. He sat there for about a month while waiting to be adopted. However, they soon realized it was no use. He was completely shut down in the shelter. He shook, vomited and avoided human contact. So he was moved to a foster home in Massachusetts.
In May of 2013, I had a large saltwater fish tank. Long story short it was cracked and I was on Craigslist panicking, trying to find a tank to transfer my fish to when I saw an add for a free dog. There was no picture, but the ad read as follows “FREE TO NEW HOME. We took in a rescue dog that we did not know was part pitbull. We have many small dogs and children and do not trust him with them. He barks nonstop and all attempts to get him to stop have failed. He is very large and extremely aggressive. If he is not gone today we will not have a choice and he will be euthanized.”
I had no picture. No idea what this dog looked like. But I had been rescuing dogs my whole life and I had room in my home for a dog. I had a cat and reptiles but I had been missing a dog, that and I failed to believe any dog was too “broken” to be helped. I replied and within a half hour I was on my way from southeastern CT to Mass to pick up a dog I had never met or seen, who was extremely aggressive, to take home. The whole way there, I was panicking. What if he killed the cat? What if I couldn’t get him in the car? What if he attacked me? I even cried a little bit. What had I done? What if I was in over my head?
When I pulled into the driveway, I heard no barking, aside from small dogs. The wife met me outside. “We’re so glad you’re here.” “Where is he?” “Oh, he’s in the backyard.” When we walked through the gate into the backyard, I felt my heart shatter in a million pieces, each embedding themselves into my ribcage. There was a dog, but he didn’t look like a dog at all. He was laying down. I could see every bone in his body clearly, his pelvis, spine, the bones in his head, all protruding so much that they looked as though they may tear through his skin. He was folded almost completely in half. I couldn’t find the words.
The husband came out the back door. Beer bottle in hand. He started ranting “damn dog never shuts up. Tried a shock collar even on high.”
He threw the bottle at the dog, laughing. I watched the dog flinch. My sadness was replaced with rage. I started screaming “What did you do to him?!” Over and over until I could barely hear myself. The collar on him was embedded and he couldn’t stand up. I grabbed him off the ground without thinking and remember thinking how light he was. The husband walked off but the wife hustled behind me, she was tearing up claiming that she was sorry. That her husband was mean. She admitted he had beaten the dog with beer bottles, thrown them at him, zapped him for fun, Left him out in all kinds of weather, kicked him, pulled his ears, and on one horrific occasion had even deprived him of food and water for 3 days.
I couldn’t talk. I just drove off. I rushed him to my vet at home where he stayed for 2 weeks. He only weighed 38 pounds, he was almost 40 pounds underweight. He was touch and go each day. We didn’t think he would survive. But 16 days later, he was healthy enough to go home.
And then, I got to meet Tyson, whose name I changed because Tiberius was in no way fitting. He was by no means aggressive, but terrified, of everything. Of me, of the cat, of everything imaginable. He would pee if you looked at him. Cram himself in the tiny gap between my bed and the floor. Hide in the shower. He shook all the time.
That was when we first came across Homeopet. You eased his stress enough for him to adjust. I learned very quickly, and by accident, what he needed. A friend. My bestfriend had a 9 year old pitbull, Cali. She only lived down the road and one day I had Tyson outside and Cali came running up the road. She usually did that but she and Tyson had not met yet. I wasn’t sure how he would be with other dogs. She came bounding up to him and he froze while she sniffed him all over before she started licking his face. HE all but melted at her feet. It was the first time in the 7 weeks since I’d had him that I saw his tail wag. She became his best friend. She came everywhere with us as we desensitized him to the world.
He slowly got better, he was still touch and go with men, but he would approach women, dogs, children. I started him in doggy daycare and he thrived. We hiked. A lot. And he loved the dog park.
One day, we were at the dog park, this was about 2 years ago, and a man came in with a group of rowdy huskies. They were challenging other dogs in the park as a pack and I decided we should leave. I called Tyson and he came trotting along. The next thing I knew, the dogs were on top of him. The most terrifying part was that he looked dead. He was completely limp. I panicked. The other owners and I were ripping the dogs of-of him, and all I could think was that he was dead.
We rushed to the vet where he had his second seizure. As it turns out, the abuse he suffered resulted in brain damage. Tyson was epileptic.
Afterward, I had to learn what his triggers were, but he had become terrified and reactive with other dogs, which broke my heart. He loved other dogs but he was afraid of them now.
For the second time, we came back to HomeoPet, rather than try phenobarb, as it would eventually ruin his liver. And again, you saved us. The past 2 years have been spent adjusting (he also has allergy issues and I have my own anxiety to work through regarding his seizures) but you played a big part in helping me help him.
My dog means more to me than I could ever put into words. He has helped me with mental illness, deaths, breakups, and I don’t know what I would ever do without him. You have given me a way to keep his seizures at bay, a way to help him safely learn to love the world again, and for that, I couldn’t thank you enough.
We at HomeoPet were incredibly moved by Tyson’s story and are so thankful that a wonderful, caring person such as Jennifer took him in and gave him the future he deserved.
You can follow Tyson’s adventures on Instagram at www.instagram.com/tiger_striped_tyson
If you have a story you would like to share with us about how HomeoPet has helped your beloved pet, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org