Tyson the Wonder Dog: Unconditional Love

Royal Canin Canada is Passionate for Pets! Scientific evidence shows the numerous benefits pets bring to our lives – to their owners and also to society as a whole. This blog post is part of a series that showcases the important role pets play in peoples’ lives by providing companionship and support, and enabling social connections.


After a recent chat with her friend, classmate, and colleague Dr. Graham Thatcher, Kirsten wanted to share this special rescue story that demonstrates the lengths an animal lover will go to save a dog in need. Please note that although this blog post contains an image that some may find unsettling, the story does have a wonderful ending!

This is the story of Tyson the Wonder Dog. Tyson got his nickname due his incredible resilience and a series of fortunate events that ultimately delivered him into the capable hands of Dr. Graham Thatcher, a veterinarian pursuing a dentistry specialty designation at Alta Vista Animal Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario.

Through social media, Graham discovered a dog living in Nicaragua had sustained a severe – but surprisingly common – injury to his muzzle from a machete accident. As you can see, Tyson’s maxilla, the upper portion of his jaw including his nose, was almost completely transected. Tyson’s owners were told the only option was to euthanize him although many dogs end up with a maxillectomy, essentially living the rest of their life with only half of their face. These weren’t options Tyson’s owners wished to consider.

Passionate for Pets - Tyson2

Enter Dr. Thatcher. “Pain and suffering knows no borders. Just because Tyson didn’t live in my area code – or my country – didn’t change the fact that he needed help.”  As you’d expect with any veterinarian, Graham has a very strong desire to help all animals. When he learned about Tyson’s case, it was particularly compelling because it also posed a professional challenge. He knew that without access to a skilled professional, Tyson wouldn’t get the care he needed.

Overcoming a number of logistical hurdles associated with airline transport of an injured animal, Graham’s wife, Andi White, was able to escort Tyson back to Canada so that an attempt could be made to salvage his muzzle and return his quality of life.

Tyson received an early Christmas gift in December 2015 through the efforts of Dr. Thatcher, veterinary surgeon Dr. Charles Bruce, and a team of clinic support staff. In a complicated seven-hour procedure, they worked together to carefully put Tyson’s face back together. I think you’ll agree that the outcome is, quite frankly, incredible.

Passionate for Pets - Tyson

Throughout this whole ordeal contact with Tyson’s Nicaraguan family was lost. To this day, despite many efforts, they have not been located. For Graham and Andi, the clear solution was to bring Tyson into their home, although there was certainly no shortage of people stepping up with offers to adopt this dog with such a remarkable story. 

Tyson has now closely bonded with Graham and goes everywhere with him, including to work.  He’s also become a bit of a celebrity and has received plenty of media attention – he’s even got his own Facebook page and hashtag on Twitter (#TysonTheWonderDog)! Tyson was even named one of the Top Ten Canadian Animal Stories in 2015 by the Canadian Press.

As a result of all the attention, this dynamic duo is well-known in their neighbourhood and the city of Ottawa. Perfect strangers recognize Tyson regularly and strike up conversations about his journey and how he’s doing. They also thank Graham, Andi, and the veterinary team for their continued commitment to the well-being of this Wonder Dog.

Passionate for Pets - Tyson & Mickey & Dr Thatcher

Although Tyson was initially meant to be a temporary fixture in the Thatcher household his sweet, silly personality has very quickly made him a beloved – and permanent – family member. “Adopting any pet is a positive experience. Of course we offer them love, good nutrition, and provide a healthy environment, but in Tyson’s case there’s no way we can replace the love he gives back to us.”


Kirsten is a veterinarian who lives on a dairy farm with her family and lots of pets – two large dogs, four house cats, and six barn cats, at the last headcount. She is particularly passionate about backcountry canoe camping, geocaching, and helping turtles cross the road.

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