Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Puppy Tales, Part 64: Still laughing daily

Toby the Puppy joined our family in early September 2014. He quite literally just showed up. It was love at first sight — for him and for us.

I am happy to report something that you might already suspect. It is that after more than four years of life with this 12-pound ball of energy, my wife and I are still laughing every single day as our puppy continues to entertain us.

It doesn’t take much to make us giggle.

We watch him walk ahead of us, his rear end swiveling with each quick-step he takes; we laugh. We ask him a question in complete sentences; he cocks his head as if to understand every word we’ve just uttered and then he looks at each of us for a response. We ask him if he wants to go for a ride in the car or take a walk; he grabs his favorite ball from wherever he placed it last and wants to take it with him.

Every walk we take with Toby is as if he’s never done it before. He whirls in circles waiting for his leash.

We leave him at home for, oh, 10 minutes. We return and he acts as if we’ve gone for 10 days. He jumps into our arms, licking our faces.

Toby the Puppy is a font of laughter.

I am quite certain that we have giggled or guffawed every day since the moment we laid eyes on him while he sat on our back patio. He looked at us as if to say, “Is this my new home?”

Gladly, it was.

Puppy Tales, Part 63: Answering the meal bell

Toby the Puppy’s ever-expanding vocabulary now includes a feature I want to share with you. It’s his understanding of when his mother and I are getting ready to sit down for a meal.

He hears the call and responds with all due appropriateness.

We have a drill at home. When my wife and I are eating a meal, the puppy lies in a bed we have in the corner of our dining room. He waits patiently for us to finish our meal. Then, depending on what we have just eaten, we allow him to lick our plates. OK, listen up: It’s not as grotesque as some might imagine; we do wash our plates carefully after each meal.

Toby spends a good portion of the day curled up somewhere in our residence. He could be in his kennel, where he likes to sleep during the day; he might be on the couch next to one of us. He might be in our study, snuggled on top of a comforter. He could be sound asleep, “dead to the world,” as the saying goes.

But then when one of us is preparing a meal, we usually say to the other — often in a voice loud enough to be heard in another room — that our meal is ready. “It’s ready!” we might say. Or “Come and get it!” Or maybe “Breakfast is served!”

Toby hears those words, he awakens immediately and then rushes to his bed in the corner of the dining room, curls up, lies down and waits for the “treat” that awaits when we are finished with our meal.

I am convinced that Toby the Puppy would respond appropriately even if we rang a dinner bell. 

Blogging brings a particular joy

My calling as a full-time blogger gives me so much joy, it’s difficult to chronicle all of it.

It keeps me in the game of public policy and politics-watching; it allows me to have my voice heard and my “throat” cleared; it reaches a wide audience that includes those who like what I have to say and those who, well, dislike my message.

I want to speak to the particular joy I receive from those critics, the folks who take the time to give me grief.

They aren’t likely to comment on those matters with which they agree. I have some series going: I write about my Chihuahua mix dog, Toby; I comment on the retired life my wife and I enjoy; I now am writing about the joy that my career as a journalist gave me over nearly four decades.

When I turn my attention to issues relating to Donald Trump and my critical view of the man’s presidency, that brings out the critics. They dust off their weapons and fire away.

Yes, I enjoy getting ’em riled. Not because I want them fired up, that I want to cause them heartburn or cause anxiety attacks. My joy comes only in knowing they, too, are engaged at some level.

Bear in mind this important note, though: No one is required to read these musings. We’re all free to look the other way, to ignore whatever it is that is posted under the name of High Plains Blogger.

That these critics choose to read it and then to comment tells me that (a) they want their blood pressure to increase or (b) they cannot get enough of whatever anger they have pent up inside of them.

Whatever, man.

I know it’s too much to ask these critics to share these messages. I ask only one thing: Just keep reading.

Many thanks to you all. Some of you keep me humble. All of you, though, keep me energized.

Time of My Life: a look back

I have shared with you already my thoughts about my annoying penchant of stressing the negative and pushing aside the positive aspects of a career I enjoyed for 37 years.

I vowed in an earlier blog post that I would seek to look with fondness at a career in daily journalism that gave me much more joy than sadness. Yeah, the sadness at the end of that career stung, but it’s over now. I am a happy fellow, enjoying retirement with my wife and our puppy named Toby.

So, with that I want to announce the start of a recurring feature on this blog. I want to share with you some of the particular events I was privileged to see up close, some of the remarkable things I was able to do, and some of the amazing individuals with whom I had contact during my modestly successful career.

It won’t be an overly frequent feature, but I’ll bring some of these things up when the spirit moves me, or when I lack more topical subjects on which to comment.

I’ve already introduced a couple of such recurring features: Puppy Tales and Happy Trails. You know what they cover. This one I’ll call Time of My Life.

I will ask only thing of you: Understand that I never once saw myself as anyone’s “enemy,” certainly not an “enemy of the American people.” I was just one of many young people who came of age in the early 1970s seeking to make a difference in the community we called home. I clashed a time or two with elected public officials, but in the end they all seemed to understand that I was just doing my job, just as they were doing theirs.

I am likely to share some of those clashes with you. I do not intend to portray myself as the “good guy” and the person with whom I butted heads as the “bad guy.” That’s just one element of this series.

The rest of it will seek to relay to you how much dadgum fun I had pursuing a craft that at times seemed to define me. The fun started in Oregon, my home state and continued through two communities in Texas, in Beaumont and then in Amarillo.

I was fond of telling people after I became an editorial writer, editor and columnist that I had the “best job in the world.” Why? Because I was allowed to foist my opinions on thousands of people every day.

Can it be any more fun than that?

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 61: Canine intution? You bet!

I hereby declare my belief in canine intuition.

Toby the Puppy embodies it. I know it whenever we approach home. And by “approach,” I don’t mean walking up to the front door of our dwelling. He exhibits his understanding of his bearings blocks away.

We came home this evening from a weekend trip to the Panhandle. We drove for more than six hours from Amarillo to our home in Fairview. As we made the exit off U.S. 75 about a mile from our residence, Toby perked up. He had been dozing for hours.

He sat straight up. He looked around. He recognized his surroundings. He was ready to get out of the car. He knows where he is at all times.

I have boasted through numerous previous blog posts about how smart Toby is. We’ve known it almost immediately upon his joining our family in September 2014. He adapted himself right away to life with a new family.

And as we hit the road on our various travels around the country, he has shown himself to be an outstanding traveler. Toby is a road warrior par excellence. 

He also knows when he’s coming home. Even when he’s knocked out. Unconscious. Lights out!

He wakes up. He’s ready to get out and make himself at home.

Puppy Tales, Part 60: Yes, we’re a trio

Toby the Puppy is out of sorts.

He’s been moping around the house. His “team” has been separated.

You see, my wife — aka Toby’s mother — has been out of town the past few days. It’s just been the Puppy and me at home. He does all the things he normally does with me: He awakens every morning around the same time; we eats breakfast, we goes outside for his morning, um, potty walk; we play fetch with one of his squeaky toys for a good part of the day; he eats dinner and then we turn in for the night.

However, he does none of it with quite the same gusto and joy that he displays when all three of us are together.

My wife tells me that when she takes Toby for walks that he is anxious to return home to see “Daddy.” Since I cannot verify that with my own eyes (if you get my drift), I rely on my wife’s testimony. Given that I married the most honest woman on Earth more than 47 years ago, I have no reason to doubt that she’s telling me the unvarnished truth.

And she informs me routinely that Toby loves yours truly, but he loves “he just loves me more.”

Toby the Puppy considers us to be a trio. He loves it when we’re all together. He’s in his element. He is safe and sound and he gets all the attention he deserves … which happens to be every ounce of it we can spare.

OK, so he’s a bit out of sorts. He’s a little under the emotional weather at the moment. I keep telling him that Mommy is coming home soon, which seems to perk him up.

It’s just not soon enough.

In the meantime, Toby the Puppy has just me.

Puppy Tales, Part 59: Speaking in complete sentences

I know I am repeating myself, but I’ll do so anyway: Toby the Puppy is the smartest canine God ever created.

He demonstrate this morning what I mean.

We had a visitor early today. Our younger son stopped by at the start of his day to have a cup of coffee and a pastry with his mother and me.

I told Toby about 20 minutes before our son’s arrival to be sure “not to bark. It’s going to be your “brother,” and when he knocks on the door, you don’t need to bark. Have you got that?” That pretty much repeats what I told him.

I mentioned it to Toby because the drill usually goes something like this: When my wife and I are inside our residence, Toby barks at the knock on the door; when either of us is coming into our place, Toby knows instinctively its either his “mother” or me. He doesn’t bark.

Today, when our son knocked on the door … Toby was quiet. He didn’t bark. He wagged his tail and when his “brother” walked in, Toby delivered the requisite licks — and then brought one of his fetch toys for our son to throw for Toby to retrieve.

What staggers me at this moment as I recall this bit of brilliance from our puppy is that I spoke to him in complete sentences, kind of like the way Lassie’s family talked to her, or the way Flipper the fish, er, dolphin would receive instructions on how to save a boater from disaster.

I’m tellin’ ya, this puppy continues to amaze me every single day. 

Puppy Tales, Part 58: The bigger they are …

Take a good, long look at the face in the picture you see here. Is it the face of a killer? Of a ferocious canine? Of a beast that would tear apart you limb from limb?

Of course not! It’s the face of Toby the Puppy — who happens to think he can do and be all those things I mentioned.

He’s none of the above. He weighs all of 12 pounds, as of his most recent visit to the doctor, which was about a week ago.

However, I have concluded something about Toby: The larger the dog he meets on our many daily walks, the bigger he thinks he is.

Toby is far from the smallest dog we’ve ever seen. However, at 12 pounds, I would rank him as a featherweight in the weight classification of puppies. He acts much more aggressively to middleweights up to heavyweights than he does toward dogs more his size.

Look at it this way: Who would win a fight between, say, the great featherweight champion Willie Pep (126 pounds) and, oh, Muhammad Ali (220 pounds)?

Toby the Puppy thinks that his size doesn’t matter any more than the size of whatever dog he thinks he wants to tangle with.

To our puppy’s ever-lasting and enduring credit, he responds quickly and correctly to our instruction to settle down. It’s as if he knows his bark is far more meaningful than his bite. And as I’ve noted before already, he does have an outsized bark, which sounds as if it should come from a much larger dog.

But it doesn’t. It comes from our 12-pound family member who makes us laugh every single day. Even when he thinks he wants to mix it up with much bigger puppies.

Puppy Tales, Part 57: Who needs travel training?

I laughed out loud when I heard this tidbit from a pet-training expert.

He talked about a dog he had given to a couple that was looking for a dog to replace their previous “baby” that had died. The training expert talked about how he gets dogs accustomed to travel by letting them sleep in their kennels prior to sending them to their new “pet parents.”

Why did I laugh? Toby the Puppy was born to travel. He remains in constant travel mode. There was no need — none at all, zero, zilch — to “train” Toby how to travel.

He’s a natural at it. I long thought my mother-in-law was the world’s greatest road warrior. She surrendered her unofficial “crown” the moment Toby the Puppy joined our family.

We ask him: Do you want to go for a ride? His response is that he whirls around like he Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. Yep, he’s ready for a ride. He stays ready. He was born ready.

When we travel with our fifth wheel, Toby is good to go the moment he settles into his bed, which my wife and I place on the console between the two front seats. He might circle once or twice before settling down for his road-trip nap.

Did we have to “train” our puppy to do this? Hah! Hardly. He puts his mother and me to shame with his travel endurance. It comes naturally.