When I first brought Tyson home from the shelter in May 2015, he was completely emaciated. Not because they didn’t take care of him, but because he was sad, heart broken, and simply had lost interest in food. He was an 8 1/2 year old, American Pit Bull Terrier, who had been given up by his family because they had moved, and could not take him with them.
Boxers have always been my favorite breed, so adopting a pit bull, even though I had grown up around them, was the furthest thing from my mind. I kept stalking the NJ Boxer Rescue website, hoping and waiting for a boxer to become available. One that got along well with other dogs because my sister’s Bugg (1/2 pug 1/2 boston terrier) named Diesel, would often stay with me for long periods of time, having lived with both of us, when we lived home with our parents.
This little guy is Diesel and he has more nicknames than any other dog known to man, and he answers to ALL of them.. Mr. Magoo, Wibbles, Dz Bear, Bear, Mini Snuggs, and “Punky” do little.. (to name a few)
I stumbled upon Tyson who was posted to the NJ Boxer Rescue website as a crosspost. He was listed as Ty, a 6 1/2 year old boxer mix. I couldn’t resist him.. his eyes looked so sad, but yet, you could see he was trying so hard to put on a brave front for his pic. I began reading his story.. basically Ty was short for Tyson (the girl who ran the shelter was not a fan of his name), he was having a difficult time at the shelter, as older dogs often do and he was said to get along with small dogs.. or so, they thought.
Tyson’s age was a concern to me, since I had lost my boxer at 9 1/2. I called my brother in law, whose mom has a history of rescuing seniors, and I’ll never forget what he said to me.. “how ever long that dog has left, his time is better spent with you than in that shelter.” In that moment, I realized it wasn’t about me or the sudden loss I might feel in a few short years to come. It was about doing the right thing for Tyson. If I was about to be his mom, I needed to be the one to endure the pain of losing him versus him having to endure the pain of spending the later portion of his life in a shelter.
I stalked his furry tush all over social media and realized his situation was a little more urgent than I had originally thought. Tyson spent the first four weeks in the shelter, being both tolerant and obedient, but when he realized his family was not coming back, he decided to take matters into his own hands.. he attempted to escape every night by initially gnawing on the chain link fence in his indoor/outdoor kennel which resulted in a broken tooth. Animal Control staff was concerned that he was hurting himself because they were routinely walking into a blood bath each morning. From there, he attempted to climb the 12 foot fence in the outdoor pen, and almost made it over, but not before wedging his head between the fence and cinderblock wall, which caused a huge gash next to his eye. In addition to not getting along with any of the other dogs, he had become too much for staff members to handle. During this time people considered adopting him, but he never seemed to be a good fit for them or vice versa. One couple in particular adopted him and after the first night, brought him back, claiming he would not gel well with their other dog. Animal control began to consider the idea of putting Tyson down and as a last resort, they placed him on anxiety medication, and moved him into isolation which prevented him from hurting himself further or escaping.
After a long conversation with the woman who runs the shelter, I went to visit Ty. I knew the second I saw him, that I needed to take him. He was distraught, 10 pounds underweight, and in addition to all of the cuts and scrapes he incurred while trying to escape, he had a really bad case of kennel tail (the tip of the tail splits open from wagging in closed quarters). I really hadn’t thought my decision through, I just knew that I had the means to provide a good life for him, and couldn’t walk away. Thankfully, I had the full support of my family because I wasn’t fully convinced Tyson & Diesel would ever get along after our little meet greet seemed questionable.
I met Tyson on a Friday, and I brought him home on a Sunday. He was as weary of me as I was of him. I spent the next few weeks trying to get his kennel tail (aka happy tail) under control, so it didn’t look like a crime scene every time someone came to visit. I got to know him while taking him for long walks around town.. I learned that he does not like bikes, skateboards, motorcycles, or loud trucks, but instead of cowering, he wants to confront what he doesn’t like or understand, head on. His strength is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
I live in an urban area, just 15 minutes outside of manhattan where pit bulls are the most popular breed. I began to suspect that Tyson was not a boxer mix when people would yell from across the street or pull their cars over to say, “hey lady, that’s a nice looking pit,” and of course, I innocently responded, “oh no, he’s a boxer mix.” You should’ve seen their faces. One guy in particular who trained pit bulls, was kind enough to tell me that “I got lied too.”
I wanted to know as much as I could about Tyson. With each passing day he began to feel more and more like my dog, and I hated not having any history on him. I knew he was well trained, well cared for, and loved, but that’s all I knew. I called every vet in the area (of course, I was asking if they had a 1/2 pit bull 1/2 boxer, named Tyson who was 6 1/2 years old), googled him, grilled the shelter staff, but came up with nothing.. Until one day a friend reached out to tell me that one of her Facebook friends saw a pic of Tyson that she had liked, and he texted her to say, your friend has my dog..
I found out that Tyson had attended obedient school in PA and I was able to get ahold of the trainer who remembered him. She gave me the 8 commands that Tyson was well trained on, and he listens to all 8 religiously. He was 8 1/2 (my guess is that they wanted to increase his chances of being adopted) and he was in fact, an American Pit Bull Terrier who was adopted from a shelter in Patterson, NJ at approximately 3 months old after having initially come from a breeder.
He loves people and children, and NOT other dogs. He’s not aggressive toward them, but he’s dominate, and when they don’t cooperate, Tyson takes matters into his own hands. He and Diesel manage to share space, but cannot interact on their own.
In my efforts to put weight on Tyson, I tried various combinations of food, but nothing ever seemed to stick for more than a few weeks. I constantly tried to come up with delicious ways to top off his dog food, but most of the time, this resulted in him eating the topping only, and last October, he finally decided he was done with dog food which I suspect had something to do with someone feeding him prosciutto at my annual Halloween party. I can’t say I blame him, so I decided to switch him to a real food diet. After all, I felt guilty giving myself real quality food, and giving Tyson dog food even though the dog food he was “occasionally” eating was grain free, etc. I spoke to his vet who ironically, was always his vet.. who knew??!! I called every vet in the area accept my own.. And we came up with the amounts Tyson should have because dog food is measured in kilocalories not calories, and he began his own real food diet.
Tyson eats twice a day, it’s usually a combination of wild caught sockeye salmon or chicken with either brussels sprout or broccoli, sweet potato, and a little chicken stock. Because garlic and onions are toxic to dogs even in low dosages, they can cause liver failure over time, I make Tyson’s chicken stock using this recipe in my instant pot. This way he gets all the benefits without anything that is toxic to his system. While the benefits of the vitamins and minerals from the chicken bones are extensive, the apple cider vinegar helps with a wide range of things including your pet’s digestive system, and the parsley helps to freshen their breath.
I get a lot of questions on Tyson’s name, particularly the addition of La Salle. I didn’t want to change Tyson’s name because I felt he had already had enough change in his life. He knew his name and he was proud of it especially when I told him, he was a good dog. I always thought about naming a dog, La Salle, after the navy ship my father served on. She was an amazing ship with a long history of being out at sea because they were able to convert her over time. When the day came to retire (sink) her, it took them 12 hours of repeated bombing before she went down. She was a fighter, a true survivor, and out of that, Tyson La Salle was born.
He loves to chase my medicine ball and steal my 10 pound weights, making at home workouts, even more challenging!
Pet Friendly Instant Pot Chicken Stock
makes 4 quarts
- bones from 2 chickens (I use leftover rotisserie chickens)
- 6 carrots (tops removed)
- 1 large sweet potato, quartered
- 7 stalks of celery with leaves
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- a handful of fresh parsley
- Place all of the ingredients in an 8 quart instant pot
- After pressurizing, cook for 2 hours
- Strain the stock and place in storage containers.
*You can also freeze the stock. I keep mine in the fridge since we go through it rather quickly. I usually give Tyson a 1/2 cup with each meal.