Apple Tyree, always remembered

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

JOHNSON CITY, TN - A memorial motorcycle ride was held in Johnson City in memory of Apple Tyree, a very special local service dog. Apple was more than just a dog-- she was a best friend and a companion, never to be forgotten. Larkey Tyree is a Vietnam Veteran. He was never a big dog person until a life changing event, 11 years ago. It was during a bout with cancer that a friend suggested he get a puppy. After some convincing, Larkey finally said he would go pick one out.

"So I went out and got Apple on the motorcycle. I put her in my pocket, stuck her head out and zipped the pocket up, and drove her home. She was 8 weeks old," Larkey said.

From that day on, Apple and Larkey were inseparable. Apple received her certification to become a service dog when Larkey began developing seizures. Apple was there by his side to warn him and to keep him calm. She went everywhere with Larkey, even on his motorcycle. Apple loved riding in her pouch just above the gas tank wearing her goggles with the wind in her hair.

"She probably had, no less, and you can ask anybody, 100,000 miles on the motorcycle...she's been to Canada...everywhere," Larkey said.

Apple rode all across the country with Larkey, becoming the center of attention everywhere she went with her personality and friendly demeanor.

"We went to Yellowstone and here's these hundreds of people taking photos and great picture out there, and they all turn around and take a picture of Apple with her goggles on," Larkey said.

An undeniable bond with a special pup that put a smile on anyone's face who came into contact with her...all until a terrible motorcycle accident two years ago.

"We were in a wreck and she didn't make it...and I was in the hospital for a week and it was really rough on me," Larkey said.

In Apple's memory now, a yearly motorcycle ride run by the motorcycle ministry at Fountain of Life Bible Church.

"It's to raise money for the Donna Hope Special Olympics for here in Johnson City," said Larkey's wife Nancy Tyree.

Apple was one of a kind, bringing joy and happiness to not only Larkey, but everyone she encountered. She especially was drawn to special needs children.

"Apple was a very special, special service animal. She was Larkey's best friend, but she was everybody's friend," said Nancy.

"She was loved, that's all I can say...By everybody," said Larkey.

A small dog with a big heart-- there is no doubt that Apple will be missed by the countless people whose lives she touched everyday.