I just wanted to share my experiences that I had with Toby so that others can see what such a special animal can do to those around him. Most of you know me quite well but many of you have not known me for the length of time that I had Toby, or Toby had me… so much may come to you as a surprise.
I moved out of my dad’s house when I was 18. I was DONE with rules! I found myself at the age of 21 living with my future husband… Since I was such an angry person, yes, I showed it on the outside, too. There were many times that I yelled and slammed holes into the apartmant walls. I was upset with the world… and then Toby came along.
My sister had just given birth to her son, Walter, and her dog, Boggy, was just too much to handle. She called me when Boggy, now named Toby, was about seven months old, and wondered if I wanted to take him. I have always loved dogs, so I said yes…. without taking into consideration John, my then roomate. John wasn’t too happy sine he had never been around dogs before, but this dog, Toby, won his heart over. Yeah, it took a while, but he did… just like he would win everyone’s heart over that he met.
I was still angry at who knows what then, and when I got REALLY angry Toby would get upset. He would hide. I loved him so much that I tried to “hide” my anger so that he wouldn’t pick up on it. It never worked because he could read whatever it was that was on my mind. He read me so well.
It didn’t take long before my anger subsided, and my love for Toby grew. I didn’t want to upset him, so I did whatever I could to not be upset. If it were not for Toby, I know that I would not be with my husband, John, for I was just so uncontrollable. Toby changed the path of my life in such a short time. In trying to make Toby happy, he made me whole and happy.
It was because of him that I began to work at a vet’s office. I needed money for him, so I thought… hmmmm… work at a vet, get discounts… yeah! Toby led me to that vet’s office and it became our home away from home. I loved it! Toby loved to go to work with me, too! He helped me to discover the parts of life that mattered. He knew that happiness led to wholeness. When I went to work for another vet, Toby was just as elated! New friends!
Toby read me so well. The phone would ring and he would bark. He knew when I was going to say “bye” to the caller before the word “bye” was mentioned. He just picked up on my voice and knew when it was time for the call to end… and, as a result, I often went outside to finish phone calls so that he wouldn’t say bye first. 🙂
We went through training classes together, which only made our love grow stronger. Toby learned all tricks the same night that they were introduced to him. He was agility trained in six weeks, so we went back for more training. He loved it! We went all the way through the advanced class (which took about 1 year) and when he heard any command, he would find a way to achieve it. He watched my eyes to know when to “go for it.”
I think he knew most words in the English dictionary. 🙂 Cookies, Food, Cheerios, Vaccuum, Go Outside, I gotta go, Go to work, Bye… I can’t name them all. He just seemed to know everything, and he was always by my side. The commands he knew… Finish (facing me, he would come around my right side and end up on the left facing forward), flip (same thing, only he would go to the left and turn facing forward), Come, Sit, Stay, Take it, Heel, Gimme five, Bang, Roll over, Down, and he made some up along the way… Speak, Get her, Squirrel, Rabbit, Free…. and, of course, more.
The commands he taught me: love, happiness, loyalty… and yes, the time to eat (5am and 5 pm). The things he showed me will last a lifetime. I can’t express how proud and happy he made me.
Toby also had a few kitty friends along the way. Our youngest cat would nurse from him when she was 2 or 3. I don’t know what was going through their minds, but she would suck on his nipples and leave bare spots on his belly. Toby allowed it for a long while and then finally told her how it was. Patience he had.
Toby aquired a sister, Emma, at the age of seven. He taught her everything she knows. She followed his every step and repeated whatever he did. They loved each other so much! She enjoyed the taste of his ears every now and then, and he would return the favor.
When Toby was 9 1/2, he experienced a terrible back injury. He was cage rested for an entire summer and came out pain free, and we thought he would remain unscathed. About a year later, he started dragging one of his rear knuckles, then his whole leg, then the other. The surgical specialists said the surgery could be a risk, and since the symptoms came on a year later, there was probably nothing that could be done. If it was a nerve problem, chances are, it would all be downhill. so we decided to build him a ramp for the back steps since his front legs were still quite strong. We used a sling under his belly to support his rear end. He never seemed to mind. He took it in stride. He cherished his life and those in it too much to let the loss of two legs get in the way.
In July of last year, when he lost his back leg strength, he could pull himself around in the house quite well with no assistance. He didn’t care that he couldn’t use his legs. He just did what he had to do.
Then in April of this year, we noticed he was having trouble with one of his front legs. He would try to keep up with us, but would express how upset he was that he couldn’t get to us… he whined… something he had never done. After many tears, we decided we would get him a cart so that he could regain his front muscles and chase us around the house again.
His cart was orded and arrived at the end of May, just in time for summer. I thought we could get those muscles back. Then his little bladder couldn’t work without help. The deeper we got into it, I realized that the “maybe’s” that all of his vets spoke of was a definate. He had Degenerative Myelopathy. His nerves weren’t speaking to each other and were degenerating.
We used the cart together as a bonding mechanism. We pulled it around and he paddled his little legs, sometimes he would pull himself around, but unsteadily. Oddly enough, every night when we said the words “nite nite” we would pick his tail up and he would run to the bedroom to his bed (he knew there would be a cookie there).
On Sunday and Monday of this week, Emma kept giving him kisses on his nose. We had never seen her do this before.
On Tuesday, the 22nd of July, at 10:00 in the morning, we took Toby to the vet to release him of this world. We are quite sure that he didn’t have any pain, but depression was becoming an issue. He still would do anything for food or love, but we could tell that he was ready.
Usually he shakes at the vet, but this time he just patiently waited. He died in my lap with John and I both loving on him.
I will never forget him or the love that he gave. Hearts were changed because of him. Hearts were tamed because of him. Toby will never be forgotten!