Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tuley Mars - A Biography

In January of 2005, David sent me a link by e-mail to a dog on He was a four month old Old English Sheepdog who was deaf. I wrote back "Get me that puppy!" David responded to the posting, and a day later we were scheduled to meet Beethoven. He'd been given two baths the day we met him and was gorgeous. All black and white and very fluffy. He laid down in the floor of David's kitchen and promptly went to sleep.

We talked to his rescuer and were deemed a suitable family for Beethoven. The next day, we drove to Ozark and pulled up to a single-wide trailer full of rescued dogs to pick him up. David wanted to name him after a character in a Jimmy Buffett's A Salty Piece of Land - Tully Mars. We altered the pronunciation and spelling a little and Beethoven became Tuley Mars.

Within the first week, we learned that Tuley was a bit of a biter and not at all fond of being crated or climbing stairs. We suspect that because of the deafness, he did not learn to play bite with the other puppies, so his bites were painful but not mean. He eventually outgrew that stage, much to my relief. Stairs took longer for him to master. He'd spent some time as a puppy in a pet store until they realized he was deaf. In that time, he also developed "cage cripple" in his back legs and they were weaker than they should have been. He preferred to have all four feet on level ground, thank you very much. Tuley learned 2 hand commands - sit and lie down. He would eagerly perform both, but only for treats. Vanilla Woofers were a favorite of his.

In October 2005, we moved to our current house. There was no fence, so David began building one immediately. On moving day, while I was collapsed in an exhausted heap, David was digging post holes by the light of his truck headlights (and as you can see in the picture - larger equipment was soon needed). The fence was soon finished and Tuley moved in. The neighbors report thinking how special the dog must be who would live inside that fence. They were right. Tuley was pretty special.

In late 2005 and early 2006, Tuley really started limping on one foot. X-rays by two veterinarians revealed that his hip joint wasn't functioning properly. As he'd step, the ball would move in and out of the socket. So in April 2006, we took him to the University of Missouri for a total hip replacement. When he came home, he was supposed to be kept quiet - that wasn't all that difficult for Tuley. Being still and quiet was one thing that he was really good at!

For a while, he slept downstairs in the entry way, but eventually his desire to be where his people were overcame his fear of stairs. In May 2007, Tuley climbed up and back down the stairs in our house. It wasn't graceful, or quiet, but he made it! From then on, he slept upstairs with his people. The cats weren't any too pleased, and a gate had to go in the doorway of their room to keep him from breaking in and eating their dinner, but they adapted.

Tuley's big excitement in life was food. He loved dinner, even though it was just the same old food every time. If he was not fed at the time he decided it was dinner, he would pace and whine worriedly. We never once forgot to feed him, but I think he always thought there was that possibility.

As a puppy, there was no way to walk him. He would lay down in the street and refuse to budge. Even if you were crossing the street at the time. Once he was grown, I put the leash on him again to see what he would do. We walked up and down in front of the house. I was afraid to get too far in case he pulled his old stunt, but it seemed that he'd forgotten his aversion to walking. Tuley liked to go on occasional walks, and was the best companion. He'd walk close by your side as if he'd been perfectly trained. He wasn't trained though, it's just where he wanted to be. As we walked up and down Fremont, people often had to look twice at the giant dog strolling along.

Tuley liked small children. When he was a puppy, he'd try to "herd" our friend's two year old like a sheep. As he got older, he'd stand patiently and let kids pet, prod, and poke at him. At our garage sale one year, the only time he interrupted his rest in the ivy was to greet any little kids that might happen by. He became such a good leash walker that another friend's four year old was able to walk him around the park with no problem.

The last couple of weeks, Tuley hadn't been feeling well. We took him to his regular vet who treated him for an upper respiratory infection. But he wasn't getting better. He quit eating, and soon could not get to his feet. A visit to the emergency vet revealed that Tuley had chronic kidney failure. His unfocused eyes showed his panic. He couldn't walk. He couldn't respond. The very kind vet sadly reported that nothing could be done. The difficult decision was made, and we lost Tuley on July 27.

A dog of Tuley's stature - one hundred thirty three pounds at his peak - and sweet nature leaves a great big hole in our hearts and home. We will miss his big furry stinky self.


Keetha said...

That's a great story. Thanks for sharing.

Dawn said...

I know that Tuley will be greatly missed! Not sure you will miss his stench or assisting him to all fours...but everything else, I know you will miss. I'm sorry for you and David. He was a good dog. :(

Unknown said...

I'm so happy he lived an awesome life with your family. I remember bringing him home from the kennel. Totally deaf. Tuley, Aka I had named him Beethoven, got more emails from people all over..... just wanting to know who adopted him so they could help teach his new owners American sign language. He had a hard start to life, God blessed him with an amazing family to love him while he was here. Thank you for loving my goofy little guy . And giving him a second chance to smile! Heather Tyndall (Blanton) Puppies Smile Too! Animal Rescue

Erin said...

Hi Heather! So good to hear from you! We still miss Tuley - he was such an easy dog to get along with. As long as he was fed on time, he was a happy camper. We especially think of him with the time change - he hated this one because he was more sure than ever that we'd forgotten to feed him. Are you still rescuing dogs?