Tag Archives: pet parenthood

Puppy Tales, Part 83: Oh, how the time flies

This is the face of a 6-year-old pooch. Toby the Puppy turns 6 on April Fool’s Day.

That is no joke, except that there’s more than a little irony that we would celebrate Toby’s birthday on this particular day.

Toby has been part of our family for almost all of the time he has been scampering on the good Earth. He barged into our lives one sunny summer day in Amarillo, Texas. Our great-niece brought him home with her after she found him curled up in an alley not from our home. Our niece was spending some time with us in 2014. There’s a bit of a back story regarding all of this, but you’ve heard it already.

If you’re interested in revisiting the whole story, look here:

Pet ownership lesson No. 1: Don't let them run loose

The irony of all this is that when we took our puppy to the veterinarian, we asked her how old he is. She looked into his mouth and said, “Five months.” That’s it. The doc knew. We backed it up from Sept. 1 and, lo and behold, it happened to fall right on April 1.

There you have it. The “joke” was on us. Except that Toby the Puppy has been no joke. He’s been an absolute joy. He has made us laugh every single day since the moment he entered our home and captured our hearts.

I have chronicled through this Puppy Tales series of blog posts about how smart he is, how well-behaved he is, how intuitive he is and how my wife and I have had to speak in code in front of him because — and I am quite certain of this — he understands the English language.

I want to extend birthday greetings to our beloved Toby the Puppy. There will be more tales to tell about him.

It’s been a wonderful six years. He has made my wife and me so very happy and I know absolutely without a doubt that he shares his happiness with us.

Puppy Tales, Part 78: Now he’s reading my mind … sheesh!

It’s getting weird around our house.

I have boasted about Toby the Puppy’s increasing vocabulary. He knows many words and response appropriately when he hears them. I have bragged about how he learned to use the doggie door leading out to our back yard.

Now there’s this …

I was going to ask my wife, in Toby the Puppy’s presence, whether we “should take … “ him for a stroll in the neighborhood.

When I said the words “should take,” Toby jumped straight up, ran to grab one of his toys, began wagging his tail vigorously and acted very much like he does when he hears the word “walk.”

Do you get my drift? He now is reading my mind. He is anticipating — correctly, I need to add — what I am about to say.

This pooch is continuing to amaze me. Yes, he makes us laugh every single day. He is continuing as well to astound me with his growing command of the English language.

Puppy Tales, Part 75: Commemorating a new family member

I want to commemorate a big moment in the life of our family. The anniversary of that moment hasn’t yet arrived, but it is approaching rapidly.

It was five years ago when your great-niece — who came to Amarillo, Texas, to visit us for a few weeks — went for a walk and brought home the newest member of our family. His name was Toby; we knew that because that’s what his former “family” called him. We kept the name.

This earlier blog post will explain a bit how we knew about our puppy’s name:

Puppy tales, Part 3

He was five months old at the time. We fell in love with him immediately. And he did with us.

My wife and I have long been cat lovers. We have been parents to a number of kitties. We had two of them when Toby the Puppy entered our life. They were getting a little long in the tooth. They didn’t much care for this “intruder.” They learned to tolerate his presence among us.

Then they died.

We’ve had Toby the Puppy all to ourselves.

What a joy he has been.

This is no exaggeration to tell you that every single day of his life with his has brought laughter. We have laughed, giggled, chortled and guffawed with him each day we’ve been together with him.

We aren’t experienced dog parents. We had a couple of pooches over many years. We had a mutt in Oregon for a time; that didn’t work out. Years later, another mutt showed up in our garage in Beaumont, Texas; it was hotter ‘n hell that day and he needed a place to cool off. We gave it to him and kept him for a time … until he ran off, never to seen by us again.

Then came Toby.

We have taken him with us on many trips in our RV. He’s been out west, back east, up north and down south with his mother and me. We’ve taken him to all three coasts: Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf. He is a road warrior to the max. Toby has visited several national parks, communed with bison, elk and bear.

We’ve moved him from house to house to house a good bit, too. His adaptability is legendary. He doesn’t mind being anywhere on Earth … as long as his Mommy and Daddy are nearby.

So, I want to commemorate this upcoming event simply by thanking our great-niece for finding him that day and bringing him home. Toby the Puppy is where he needs to be.

Puppy Tales, Part 74: Nearly mastering the doggie door

Look at that face. It is the face of a puppy that has dug in his claws and played his parents like a fiddle. But I’m announcing today that Toby the Puppy is this close to mastering the doggie door we purchased just for him.

How close is this close?

We purchased the back door to our patio with a portal fit for a 12-pound Chihuahua mix pooch. That would be Toby. We bought it figuring that since he is so smart that it would be a snap for him to learn how to use it.

Just put his nose against the clear plastic swinging door, give him a nudge and he’ll be in and out on his own in no time.

Silly us.

Toby decided to tease us. He resisted initially any effort to persuade him to walk through the door on his own. Over time, his resistance lessened. Each day and week produced more progress. But we still had to push him through the door when he had to go outside to, um, take care of business.

Then he began to turn the corner. I reckon he has grown tired of playing us. Maybe he’s bored with the game. Perhaps he is concocting another stunt he can pull on us.

He is now walking through the door unassisted.

Am I prepared at this moment to declare total and unconditional victory? Not … just … yet.

You see, Toby the Puppy still requires us to stand next to him while he exits and then enters the house. Hey, it’s better than it was in the beginning. I stand by my declaration of Toby’s smarts.

We’re taking it a step at a time.

Puppy Tales, Part 70: Learning curve gets a bit steep

You know already how smart Toby the Puppy is, so I won’t belabor that point.

However, our brainy pooch is presenting a bit of a challenge for us.

You see, we just purchased a couple of doors for our home in Princeton, Texas. The front of the house now has a storm door; the rear of our new digs has a combination glass-and-screen door — with a pet entrance!

It’s the pet entrance that is presenting our challenge.

Toby hasn’t yet grasped the concept of how it works. All he has to do is push on it with his nose, or nudge it with one of his front feet for him to walk through it.

He hasn’t gotten it. At least not yet.

It’s been less than a week since we had the doors installed. The way I figured it, though, he was going to get it quickly. As in immediately! Oops, silly me. Toby is making some progress, but he hasn’t yet figured out how this pet door works.

His first attempt was fraught with flinching and resistance. He isn’t resisting it now. He barely blinks as we push him through the pet door. The puppy, though, just isn’t ready to take the initiative.

I consider it to be a sort of canine leap of faith.

I am far from discouraged over Toby the Puppy’s ability to get it.

He will. As I have noted many times already, I consider him to be one of the smartest pooches in history.

Puppy Tales, Part 62: His vocabulary expands

You are looking at the face of a puppy with an ever-expanding English-language vocabulary.

Toby the Puppy amazes my wife and me almost daily. This morning, though, the amazement rose to a new level. Here is what happened.

I rolled over this morning and started to wake up. As I was getting my wits about me and preparing to roll out of the rack to start my day, Toby jumped on my chest.

I started stroking the side of his face, the front of his neck . . . you know, the usual places puppies like to be stroked.

Then I told Toby what my wife and I tell him multiple times every single day: I love you.

With that, he reached down and licked my nose.

Ah, hah! A coincidence?

I said it again: I love you.

Toby did the same thing, again!

What in the name of canine affection am I supposed to surmise from that? I didn’t do it a third time, but I will conclude only that our puppy understood what I was telling him. He knows the words. He responds quite appropriately.

Who knew that a pooch could respond with such, umm, humanity?

Puppy Tales, Part 44

We’ve all come down with a case of it. We deal with it by going outside, enjoying ourselves, taking in the wide open spaces.

Right? OK. Can a high-energy dog do it whenever he feels the need to blow off some energy?

Not exactly. Toby the Puppy has become afflicted with a case of acute cabin fever. I cannot stress the word “acute” enough. He has gone stir crazy.

Here’s the problem. We’re all — my wife, Toby and yours truly — are now living in our fifth wheel RV. We’re parked at an RV park in Amarillo. The place has rules regarding dogs: leash ’em up, clean up after they do their business. Got it. Enough said.

The park has a nice dog park: two fenced-in yards with plenty of poop bags available just in case.

However, it’s been cold here on the Texas Tundra. We can’t just let Toby out to play in the dog park. We can’t leash him up at our RV site and leave him out there! He gets cold, man! Just like his mother and I get cold.

The adjustment for my much better half and me has been to get used to living in close quarters. We still like each other, which is a blessing — even though I like her more than she likes me. We’re coping, though, just fine.

Toby is having a bit of time of it. Back when we lived in an actual house with walls, a roof, a back door and a fenced-in back yard, he could come and go as he pleased. That cannot be the case in our RV.

He’s a captive audience of one.

I’m sure other puppy parents know of what I speak. I am not asking for advice. We’ve simply learned to take him out, walk him for a few minutes and bring him back. We do this many times during any given day.

We do understand that this became part of the deal more than three years ago when Toby joined our family.

Puppy Tales, Part 41

Toby the Puppy is going to have to share this blog post tribute with another member of our family … but he’s still a champ.

Toby is comfortable around virtually all human beings. The only group of people that makes him slightly uncomfortable is young ones, mainly those of toddler age.

Well, you can scratch little Emma Nicole — our precious granddaughter — from the list of young ones who give Toby the Puppy the heebie-jeebies.

Emma and her Daddy — the younger of our two sons — arrived this weekend for a visit. We were waiting outside for them and the moment Toby saw little Emma jump out of the car … well, let’s just say he went nuts.

He greeted Emma the way he greets his Mommy and me when we’ve been away for any length of time. Indeed, he gets hyper-excited when we’re gone for 20 minutes, let alone for two hours! Emma got the treatment he reserves for those he recognizes, which is a very good thing, given that we still live some distance from Emma — for the time being.

How did our little 4-year-old react to the enthusiastic greeting? She loved it! Indeed, she loves Toby very much and showers him with plenty of tender, loving care.

As an aside, I should add that Toby and Madden — our granddaughter’s large and loving black Lab — also are big-time pals. Toby weighs about 10 pounds; Madden, aka “Mad Dog,” tips the beam at around 80 pounds, give or take. They play and tussle with great enthusiasm whenever they’re together.

The weekend figures to be a fun event for little Emma, who gets to play with her “other” puppy. As for Toby, he too will be in his element, enjoying the endless supply of TLC that Emma will deliver.