Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Puppy Tales, Part 42

I have boasted about my own adaptability in the face of upcoming big changes in our life. However, I am a piker compared to Toby the Puppy when it comes to adaptability. For that matter, so is my wife.

Toby has adjusted quite nicely to RV living. That, full-time RV living.

We have taken the plunge. We have vacated our house and moved full-time, all the time into our 28-foot fifth wheel.

How has Toby the coped with the change? Just fine. Thanks for asking.

He’s a puppy with relatively few needs. All he seems to insist on is for Mommy and Daddy to be nearby. We are happy to oblige.

Yes, he has been forced to make his share of adjustments, just as my wife and I have made them. Perhaps the major adjustment in Toby’s life has been for him to tell us he needs to go outside. It’s a non-verbal request, to be sure. He goes to the door of our RV, stands there looking anxious. My wife and I have become quite fluent puppy body language.

It used to be easier for Toby. Going outside meant he would open the back door of our house and turn him loose into our fenced-in backyard. These days, the process requires us to attach a leash to his collar or his jacket. Then we have to go out with him.

That is not an issue for either my wife or me.

We still toss his toys and he still fetches them and brings them back to us.

Toby sleeps through the night and in fact gets so comfortable he’s often the last one to roll out of the sack in the morning.

Adaptable? Yep, Toby the Puppy is the canine definition of the term.

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.

Puppy Tales, Part 40

I already have declared Toby the Puppy to be the all-time greatest road warrior in the history of doghood. I also have proclaimed him to be the smartest, best-behaved and cutest puppy as well.

He joined our family slightly more than three years ago and he has blessed my wife and me daily ever since. He has made us laugh every single day since our great-niece brought him home Labor Day Weekend 2014 after finding him curled up next to a Dumpster in an alley.

Toby’s understanding of the English language, however, has taken a new turn. It occurred to us while we were on our three-week RV trip from Texas to Oregon and then back.

I occasionally turn in for the night first. I did so fairly routinely on our 4,200-mile journey out west.

I would fall into bed and then my wife would say to Toby, “OK, Puppy, go on to bed and snuggle with Daddy.” At that, Toby would jump down off his mother’s lap, scamper across the floor, jump into bed and curl up next to my legs. I would throw a blanket over him and that’s that. Lights out for Toby.

I want to bring this up to illustrate that my wife spoke to our puppy in a complete sentence. He understood it. He then responded appropriately.

It reminds me of how Lassie would respond to Timmy’s distress calls, how the boy would tell the dog to fetch Mom and Dad and rescue him from the well. Or how Rin Tin Tin would aid the soldiers from Fort Apache, alerting them on where the Indians were waiting to ambush them.

OK, I exaggerate, but you get my point, yes?

I don’t expect TV studios to call us while looking for the next Super Dog to cast in a series. For one thing, they don’t make those kinds of TV shows these days.

Then again, if studio moguls are interested, I’ve got just the puppy.

Happy Trails, Part 52

I am happy to report that we have returned from another highly successful retirement sojourn.

It covered 4,279 miles — give or take a few — from Amarillo to the Pacific Northwest and back.

What I want to mention specifically is that Big Jake — our 3/4-ton pickup that hauls our fifth wheel RV — has flexed his proverbial muscle and has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s up to the task.

Jake lugged my wife, Toby the Puppy and me — along with our fifth wheel — up and over some of the most rugged climbs we believe we’ll ask as we continue our lives in the Age of Retirement.

We set out Oct. 9 for points west. We made stops in Gallup, N.M., Needles, Calif., Chowchilla, Calif., Grass Valley, Calif., Eugene, Ore. and finally in Portland, Ore. Jake took us on some hefty climbs along the way — through New Mexico and then into the Sierra Nevada.

Ah, but it got a bit more stringent on the return trip.

We set out for home on Oct. 23, with stops in Bend, Ore., Winnemucca, Nev., Provo Utah, Glenwood Springs, Colo., and Fountain, Colo. It was the Glenwood Springs-to-Fountain leg where Jake earned his spurs, his stripes; the Provo-to-Glenwood Springs leg was no picnic, either.

We managed to climb to 10,600 feet at Vail, Colo. Then we descended, only to climb again, when we reached 11,100 feet at the Eisenhower Tunnel just west of Denver.

Oh, my! Jake did well.

My wife and I knew we bought a winner when we acquired this beastly truck more than three years ago. Jake had hauled us through the Appalachians, the Ozarks and through the Black Hills. No sweat.

This trip, the longest yet in terms of distance, proved to be a stellar test of the muscle contained under Jake’s massive hood.

Big Jake passed. He gets an “A.” Now we’ll catch our breath, get ready for the next big transition in our life — getting our house ready to sell. Then we’ll hit the road yet again.

No worries. I am certain Big Jake is up the next challenge.

These men and women are doing heroic work

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. — The nation’s eyes, ears and hearts are dialed in to the tragedy that’s unfolding a bit northwest of here, in Santa Rosa.

Fire has destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people. The death toll is expected to increase. Firefighters have poured in from all over the continent to assist in that terrible fire.

My wife, Toby the Puppy and I came to Grass Valley on vacation. En route to this marvelous place we learned of another fire. We half-expected to drive to a site full of smoke; we thought we might have to purchase surgical masks to keep from inhaling all that smoke and dust.

We arrived to find the sky relatively clear, unlike what we saw in Chowchilla about 180 miles south of here. Then we pulled into our Nevada County Fairgrounds RV park and found quite a sight: dozens of firefighters roaming around; rows of firefighting equipment; tents full of supplies (food, clothing, blankets, etc.); one-person tents pitched everywhere.

They’re fighting these fires fiercely. They seem to have caught a break with the weather. The winds were calm upon our arrival, although we heard from several folks that the previous day brought choking smoke to the area.

We visited with a young man who appears to be a senior firefighting officer. He guesses about 1,000 firefighters are on hand. He said they are coming in “from all over. The Midwest is the farthest away.” Jail inmates are fighting the fires. They’ve got CCC crews on the task, too.

He estimated that the fire has burned about 14,000 acres.

It isn’t yet contained, he said.

What’s more, the efforts of these men and women are not going unnoticed by the community. They have made signs on the chain-link fence bordering the fairgrounds. They have earned the community’s gratitude and wishes for God’s blessings to all of them.

On our way back to our RV site, we encountered four young firefighters: three men and a woman. “Where you from?” I asked. “Northern Idaho,” came the response from one of the men.

“We just want to thank you for all you do,” my wife said. “That means everything to us,” he responded. “We sure don’t do this for the pay,” he joked.

These young heroes are here apparently for the long haul, or as long as it takes.

God bless all the firefighters scattered throughout this fire-ravaged state.

Puppy Tales, Part 39

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. — I want to declare Toby the Puppy to be the all-time champeen of travel.

He’s the ultimate road warrior. It matters not where we go, or how we long we sit in our motor vehicle, Toby the Puppy is good to go. He stays ready. I believe he was born ready to go.

I’ve heard of dogs that travel with extreme difficulty. They stress out. They suffer motion sickness in the car. Their phobias restrict their “parents” from travel.

Toby the Puppy is not like that. Not even close. In fact, if he were king of the world — and not just of our world, which he is — he would declare every day to be Travel with Mommy and Daddy Day.

We have ventured to California, where Toby’s never before been. He knows no strange surroundings. He doesn’t always react with total serenity to strange humans; no, he doesn’t bite, although he might growl just a bit, perhaps even bark. We tell him “no!” and he’s just fine.

As for his traveling endurance, he immediately settled into a pattern while riding in our vehicles after he joined our family. Our pickup has a large console between the two front seats. We put his cushy bed on the console, he jumps into it, circles twice and plops down.

It’s lights out almost immediately!

I figure he knows enough to save his energy for when we get out of the truck and start exploring.

Other dog parents know of what I am writing. They likely have similar experiences with their own puppies. My wife and I are still fairly knew at this dog parenthood thing; we’ve been longtime cat parents. Indeed, cats have presented us with their own unique and equally loving charm.

Three years into being dog parents, Toby the Puppy is still making us laugh every single day. Even while we’re all on the road.

Happy Trails, Part 46

GALLUP, N.M. — This retirement journey we’re on has taught me a wonderful lesson, which is that this big ol’ world of ours is actually quite small.

My wife and I don’t usually plug in to cable outlets when they’re available at RV parks where we stay. The RV park where we stay in Gallup has cable, so we tried it out. We usually rely on antenna reception, which is normally quite good.

We hooked up the cable. We got snowy pictures on all the channels. Lousy reception, man. I went back to the office to ask for some guidance from the RV park manager. He gave me a tip. I went back to the RV. Still no good. I unplugged the cable.

Then someone knocked on our RV door, sending Toby the Puppy into a barking frenzy.

“Hi. You were asking about cable TV?” the gentleman asked.

“My name is John,” he said. Hmm. I thought, “That’s a coincidence.” Then he added, “and I’m from Oregon.” Why he said that is beyond me. “Well, so am I,” I responded. My wife told John I grew up there. “Oh, really? Where?” he asked. “Portland,” I told him.  “I live in Corvallis,” he said.

He walked me through a couple of things about the cable hookup that I didn’t know. We tried to hook it up one more time. Still no good.

But I guess the real point of this brief blog post is to remind you all yet again that RV campers are among the nicest people on Planet Earth. They are willing to help. Such as John from Corvallis. He overheard me talking to the RV park office staff about my cable reception, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. I appreciate his thoughtfulness.

Plus, he’s a home boy from Oregon. That’s pretty cool, too.

Puppy Tales, Part 38

My wife and I laughed out loud this morning when we heard the news.

Today is National Spoil Your Dog Day.

I’m pretty sure Toby the Puppy heard the news, too. Not only that, he likely understood what he heard and very well might test his mother and me to follow through on the promise this day is supposed to bring.

News flash to Toby the Puppy: He gets “spoiled” plenty already. In fact, my wife and I do not know precisely what we could do during this special “day” that we don’t do already to make the puppy’s life more comfortable.

If he wants to go for a walk, he lets us know and we respond appropriately; that is, we take him for a walk. If he wants a treat, he lets us know that, too; yes, we jump at his every command. He likes to sleep in his kennel at night, but if he jumps into bed with us at some ungodly hour of the night, well … snuggle up, Toby.

Yes, we have our limits with Toby. Then again, we had limits with our two human sons when they lived with us.

The bottom line for the puppy is that he’s got it made in the shade.

My mother used to wonder why the term “a dog’s life” was intended to convey a negative message. I’m wondering the same thing.

Oh, one more thing: We wouldn’t change a thing as it regards our puppy. He deserves all the spoiling he gets.

Puppy Tales, Part 37

A friend of mine told me today she enjoys my blog postings about Toby the Puppy and suggested that I’ve been a bit remiss in writing about our pooch.

So, for my friend, this one’s for you.

Toby’s vocabulary has expanded tremendously in the nearly three years he has been a member of our family. I’ve told you already how he knows many words and responds appropriately when he hears them; we have been forced to spell many words in his presence, but he’s now learning how to spell.

Soon, my wife and I will need to start learning to speak in code. I might need to take classes on cryptology. Maybe we’ll become 21st-century code talkers, like the Navajo men who befuddled the Japanese during World War II by speaking to each other over the radio; the enemy couldn’t decipher the Navajo language.

But here’s the latest learned behavior I want to share with you: Toby now responds to the words “It’s ready!” when we’re cooking dinner.

Whether it’s my wife or me in the kitchen, we usually tell each other “It’s ready!” when dinner is about to be served. What does Toby do when he hears those words? He scampers from wherever he is at the moment to a spot in the corner of our dining room; in that corner is a fluffy little doggy bed where he lies down while my wife and I are eating our meal.

He knows that’s where he belongs when we’re eating. We don’t like him begging at the table. So we’ve instructed him to directly to “bed!” when we sit down.

Our puppy now has advanced that knowledge to the next level. He exhibits it when we tell each other that dinner is ready.

This pooch’s knowledge is amazing in the extreme. We’re still fairly new dog parents. Our many years together have included for almost all of that time — nearly 46 years — a collection of kitties. You know as well as I know that kitties generally cannot be controlled. They control you, if you get my drift.

Our puppy has brought an entirely new element to our lives as pet parents. He’s pretty damn smart, so help me!

Happy Trails, Part 33

This ongoing series of blog posts is supposed to chronicle the joys of retirement that my wife and I are enjoying.

We are enjoying many of them. We just returned home today after traveling 3,175 miles from Amarillo, to East Texas, to Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. We spent some glorious family time with our sons, our daughter-in-law and her sons, our precious granddaughter, our daughter-in-law’s parents, my cousin and her husband.

My wife and I saw a lot of beautiful country along our sojourn and spent plenty of great “quality time” with our family members.

We had a serious blast, folks.

But …

Our trip had a couple of serious hiccups, which I’ll explain.

On our return home from St. Paul, Minn., we pulled into a truck stop/travel center in Springdale, Ark., where we discovered one of our RV’s wheels was seriously out of alignment. We looked closely and discovered it had burned through some bearings. The wheel was shot.

We summoned a service guy, who told us the axle was damaged. We needed a new one. He brought it the next afternoon — after my wife and I, along with Toby the Puppy, spent a sleepless night in the truck stop parking lot. The noise of semi-trailers coming and going all night — along with the oppressive heat — kept us up all night. We ran our fifth wheel off the battery, which didn’t run our air conditioner.

The service guy replaced the axle the next day and we proceeded onward.

Then came the trip home from Allen, Texas, where we spent a couple of days and nights with granddaughter Emma and her parents.

We journeyed home with our shiny new rear axle holding up just fine. We pulled up to our Amarillo house, got out, then tried to open the slide on our fifth wheel so we could empty our pantry.

The slide doesn’t work. No response to the switch. It’s deader than dead, man.

We’ll get that problem fixed quickly.

So, the upshot of this story? Not every excursion is trouble-free. We have to learn to cope with stumbles and hiccups along the way. I believe we did all right in that regard.

We don’t need more opportunities to present themselves.