Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

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.

Puppy Tales, Part 56: Memory never fails him

Toby the Puppy’s memory is like a steel trap. A vise. He never forgets. Anything.

We returned home to Fairview today after spending more than two weeks on the road. We hauled our fifth wheel north and west: through Denver, through Wyoming, to West Yellowstone, Mont., then to Grand Coulee, Wash.

Then we came back home.

More than two weeks on the road, man!

What does Toby do the instant we walked into our digs in Fairview? He ran straight for where he stashed one of his toys and dropped at his Mommy’s feet. He wanted her to throw it. Now! It was time to play fetch/catch.

Holy cow! I was stunned. Our puppy was home. He knew immediately where to find the item he knew was to be tossed, so he can fetch it and bring it back.

All the activity we saw on our marvelous sojourn out west was ancient history in Toby’s mind.

He was ready to resume the fun of being home.

Man, I am worn out. It will have to wait until the morning.

Sighted: an actual UFO … maybe, possibly

Toby the Puppy and I went for a walk last night in the Amarillo, Texas, RV park where we’ve been parked for the past couple of days.

I looked up and noticed something. It had multiple lights. It was moving at a high rate of speed from west to east.

I couldn’t tell what it was. I couldn’t identify it. I didn’t know if it was, oh, a helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft. For that matter, well … it might have been something from the great beyond. Right?

Here’s my question. Does that mean I have just witnessed an actual unidentified flying object?

Hey, I couldn’t ID it. I didn’t know if as a friend or foe, or if it meant to do harm. C’mon, hang with me on this one.

So, there you have it. Maybe. I have spotted a UFO. If that’s the case, maybe we need to redefine — with a lot more specificity — what we mean when we talk about UFOs.

There. Now I’ve seen everything.

Happy Trails, Part 118: Packing warm clothes

A young woman at an RV park in central Wyoming delivered a message that was music to my ears.

I made an overnight reservation there and then asked about the temperature. “It’s been hot here the past week,” she said. I then asked about Yellowstone National Park, where my wife, Toby and Puppy and I are heading.

“Oh, be sure to bring warm clothes there,” she said. “I hear it’s cooling off nicely.”

Man, I hope she heard it correctly.

This is our first trip in a few months; it is the first since we moved from Amarillo to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

We have had a toasty summer so far in the Metroplex, although it’s been more,  um, tolerable the past few days. We had quite a few consecutive days of 100-degree-plus weather. That, and the humidity, does take the starch out of you.

However, very soon we’re packing up our RV and heading north and west toward Yellowstone. We’ll spend four nights there before heading ever farther north and west, where we’ll spend three nights near Grand Coulee Dam, Wash. I grew up in Portland, Ore., which isn’t all that far away, and have never been to Grand Coulee Dam. So, this is kind of a bucket-list destination for me.

I am not expecting frigid temps on this road trip. I do expect to layer up my attire while we’re visiting Old Faithful and gawking at the wildlife that runs around the nation’s oldest national park.

I do hope the young woman on the phone today knew what she was talking about.

I’ll keep you posted.

Puppy Tales, Part 55

Toby the Puppy has an identity issue.

I won’t call it a “crisis” because our puppy isn’t bothered by it. How does it present itself?

OK, Toby weighs about 11 pounds. When he meets much larger dogs, he tends to act more aggressively than when he encounters fellow canines of similar or smaller size.

Toby the Puppy thinks he’s a pit bull. Or a Rottweiler. Or a German shepherd. Or any variety of Lab.

It might be that he is smitten by the sound of his own voice. Toby’s bark sounds as if it comes from a much larger dog. He speaks sparingly. He barks only for a good reason: someone at the door he doesn’t recognize or someone outside who gets his attention.

We now live in a Fairview neighborhood that is full of dogs. Many of them are much larger than Toby. Some of our neighbors have pit bulls. I’ve seen a couple of English bulldogs. I’ve seen many mixed breeds of considerable size as well. When Toby sees them, he pulls hard on his leash. I have to shush him when he barks or snarls. He listens and then settles down — immediately.

I won’t worry about whether Toby will ever come to grips with the fact that he’s a small dog. He isn’t going to whip many other dogs in a pooch-on-pooch fight. His temperament won’t engage them.

I’ll let him strut around the neighborhood, going through whatever motions male puppies go through.

He will keep my wife and me in stitches every step of the way.

Happy Trails, Part 116: Puppy now knows Emma

I was torn between filing this blog item under a Happy Trails installment or a Puppy Tales episode. I settled on the Happy Trails route, as it helps explain another milestone that our retirement journey has passed.

It actually arrived some time ago, but I noticed again today.

Our granddaughter visited us briefly this morning at our place prior to taking her downtown to see the Dallas World Aquarium. When she walked through the front door, Toby the Puppy greeted her precisely the way he greets my wife and me whenever we’re away for more than 10 minutes: tail wags, licks and running around vigorously in circles.

This is the kind of greeting Emma can expect whenever she sees Toby. It’s also the greeting she’ll get with increasing frequency now that her Grandma and I have moved to our new digs in Collin County.

She’s used to enthusiastic greetings from dogs. She has one of her own. Madden is much larger than Toby. He also is just as cheerful and affectionate when he sees Emma. For that matter, he greets Toby the same way; Toby is more than happy to return the affection to his much larger family relative. I hasten to add that Madden greets my wife and me with plenty of licks and tail wags, too.

This is one of those transitions we expected to occur once we resettled in North Texas. I enjoy watching it every time it occurs.

Today was no exception. I am so looking forward to many more of these greetings.

I should add that Emma loves Toby as much as he loves her.