By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — The Seaport won't be the same without Tyras.
The soulful Great Dane, a beloved neighborhood mascot for the past eight years, died on Sunday, leaving local residents and dog owners devastated.
"He definitely wasn't just a dog," said Deborah Boulac-Geleski, 40, a Seaport resident who knew Tyras from the time he was a puppy. "Tyras kept everything together. He was that face and presence that could always make everybody smile."
Tyras belonged to Amanda Byron, owner of The Salty Paw pet spa and accessory shop on Peck Slip. People came to the shop from all over the city, and beyond, to visit the handsome, 140-pound dog, who understood at least 200 words and always tilted his head to pose for pictures.
Byron said she had long known that Tyras had a bad heart, but his condition worsened a few weeks ago and he recently stopped eating. When Tyras collapsed during a walk on Saturday, Byron and her family decided it was time to put him down, a friend said.
As word spread on Monday that Tyras was gone, condolences poured in and workers at The Salty Paw struggled to do business as usual.
"I just don't know how we're going to get past it right now," said a shaken Janet Carhuayano, 26, manager of The Salty Paw. "He was just such a big part of not only the store but also the neighborhood."
Carhuayano said she hopes to hold some form of a memorial for Tyras soon.
Although Tyras' Great Dane bulk was imposing, his quiet gaze and subdued manner quickly put people of all ages at ease. He didn't mind if Byron's two young sons grabbed at his jowls or sat on his head, and he always preferred being with people to being alone.
"He was just such a gentle giant," Carhuayano said. "He was literally scared of everything. He just wanted to be a lapdog, to curl up next to you and watch TV."
From the time he was a puppy, Tyras was attached to Byron, who called him her "first born." Part of the reason Byron opened The Salty Paw in 2007 was so she could take her dog to work with her each day, she said.
Carlene Jadusingh, Byron's neighbor, sometimes babysat Tyras when Byron had to travel, and said Tyras would often be so heartbroken at his owner's absence that he wouldn't eat until she returned.
A German Blue Great Dane, Tyras came from a breeder in Upstate New York. He was named after the German leader Otto von Bismarck's beloved dog, who was also a Great Dane, Byron said.
Byron said in an e-mail Monday that she would miss Tyras' gentle pawing and head butts, his barking when the doorbell rang and his large drooling jowls.
"But most of all," she said, "his kind human-like eyes that would always have a way to make me feel better."