Tyler always knew what night the trash went out.
And so, if he were to escape, it would be on a Monday.
He'd always turn right, and then you'd find them: a string of knocked-over trash cans, contents strewn about, with Tyler standing in the middle of his latest conquest, gulping down whatever he found to eat.
Sometimes, we'd have trouble getting him home. Not because he didn't want to go, but because he smelled so badly of the neighbor's refuse, that it was nearly impossible to drive.
Aside from being the neighborhood's preeminent slayer of garbage bags, Tyler was also adept at hunting up smelly things at the lake.
Used diapers. Rotting bbq. Coyote poop. Dead fish.
Once, I used an entire bottle (32 oz size) of someone else's shampoo to scrub and scrub him after he rolled in a catfish carcass and then happily came up to rub against my legs. We stood in the waves on the shores of Lake Grapevine and I rubbed sand and more sand and even more sand into his fur to loosen the glue-like rotting flesh and then shampoo out that one-of-a-kind smell.
To no avail.
It was summer. It was hot. We're in Texas. I had cloth seats.
Needless to say Tyler rode the 7 miles home in the trunk of my Jetta. And slept on the back porch.
His craziest behavior, however, he reserved for that little-known treasure that melts all doggie hearts - Wonder bread.
Not once. Not twice. But multiple times, Tyler would wander from camp only to return with a loaf of white bread. A loaf of bread within a 1 mile radius was in serious danger when he was around. I was even told by some fellow campers that he'd foregone their steaks to take the bread off their table.
This said, he did not only favor bread while camping.
Once, he escaped the house while a friend was dog sitting. She called, frantic. "Will he come home?"
I suggested she needed to track him down, but then came the text: "Never mind, he's back."
Followed by: "He found a loaf of bread."
He'd gone down the alley and I can only imagine that the fluffy white stuff was sitting atop someone's yet-unloaded grocery bag.
Thank goodness his theft never amounted to more than about $4 and .50 cents.
Tyler never hated anyone. Except one night when the cops came to the house. Mr. Policeman was there to take a report on our stolen bikes. Tyler walked up to the diminutive male human, put one paw on each shoulder and looked him square in the eyes. No barking. No growling. No nothing.
Just his way of saying, "This is my house."
Well, and he once barked viciously at a puppy who was dumb and climbed into the camper. Still haven't figured that one out. But, never-the-less, puppy learned his place.
All my dogs are taught to "get back" when someone is opening a door. When my Ex's kids visited with their beagle puppy, that puppy was not hip to what "get back" meant. After hearing "get back" several times and not seeing the puppy retreat, Tyler walked up, gently took the pup by the nape of the neck and pulled her back so the door could be opened.
It might have been dinner time. The matter was urgent. But whatever, on that day my Labrador was smarter than your average grade-school kid.
And so I recount the wonderful stories of my first and most well-loved doggie. He didn't fight with his sisters, pee on the carpets, kill the neighbor's cat, or growl at anyone he knew. Ever.
He got lost. Spent one night in jail. Covered me in poison ivy more times than I could count. Took to barking at me whenever he needed anything in the last year of his life, when he couldn't get up without my help. And was always, always, always happy to see me.
Fifteen years is a long time for an 85 pound dog. I wouldn't have traded a single moment of it all and I wish only that his last 24 hours - which were the only 24 hours he suffered - had not been so hard.
We choose our pets knowing they will leave here before we do.
At least mine had the consistency we've all come to know and love him for: He left on a Monday night.