Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Puppy Tales, Part 87: Earning his spurs

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

TYLER STATE PARK, Texas — You know by now that Toby the Puppy is nearly perfect … if not actually perfect.

One of the aspects of his perfection is that he barks only for a reason. He doesn’t just yip and yap at nothing or nobody. Hardly. He barks when people approach our RV, or our house when we’re at home. He knows when one of us is away from the house and when we return that he doesn’t need to bark; Toby the Puppy simply assumes it’s either his Mother or me.

OK, that all laid out there, here’s a tale of how he put his bigger than expected bark to good use.

We were parked at Tyler State Park. We noticed a raccoon walking through our area. We watched as the ‘coon walked up to an RV a few spaces away from ours. This all happened just before dusk.

Then the sun went down and, without warning — and it was startling to hear — Toby the Puppy went absolutely ballistic. He barked, he snarled, he made noises that we had never heard him make. He was looking out the door of our RV into the dark.

I grabbed a flashlight and looked everywhere in our camp site at what might have caused Toby to go berserk. I found nothing. Then it occurred to me: Toby the Puppy scared that raccoon away!

I cannot prove that the raccoon ventured into our site that evening. I am left only with circumstantial evidence. We saw with our own eyes the raccoon snooping around our neighbor’s rig. Then it got dark and our pooch began snarling at a mystery object outside.

Two plus two does equal four, yes?

There you have it. Toby the Puppy has earned his keep as a supreme watchdog.

Puppy Tales, Part 86: Reading lips? Really?

By JOHN KANELIS

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

TYLER STATE PARK, Texas — Spare me the derisive laughter when I reveal the latest wonderment involving Toby the Puppy.

I was sitting in our recreational vehicle; the air conditioner was blasting cool air throughout the RV. It was making a lot of noise.

Toby was lying on the floor next to the bed in our bedroom. He and I made eye contact. Then I turned to my wife and I whispered to her: Do you think we should take Puppy for a walk?

As the Almighty is my witness, the moment I said the word “walk,” Toby jumped up and ran toward us. His tail was wagging. He wanted to go on a walk through the Tyler State Park campground.

My wife offered a potentially plausible explanation for what we both witnessed, which was that Toby is blessed with exceptional hearing. I won’t accept her rational thinking … just yet.

I want to make it abundantly clear that I spoke to my wife in that moment in a voice that couldn’t possibly be heard above the roar of the A/C. Yet our puppy responded immediately after watching me say the operative word.

Not long after Toby the Puppy joined our family, my wife and I learned to avoid saying certain words in his presence unless we were prepared to act on what we had just said. In other words we didn’t say the word “walk” unless we intended to it in the moment.

It’s a good think we could act on it when I mouthed the word “walk.”

I will take greater care from this day forward.

What’s next, post-Trump?

By JOHN KANELIS

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Yes, I do think at times of matters that take my brain into outer space.

One of them has popped into my noggin and it has to do, not surprisingly, with Donald John Trump.

I have spent a lot of emotional energy on High Plains Blogger commenting on the foibles of Trump and the presidency he inherited. What will happen to this blog once Donald Trump exits the White House? You probably haven’t thought about it, as you have many other things to occupy your mind. Truth be told, so do I, but I still have time to ponder things such as this.

I am supremely confident that this blog will continue. For all I know it might even flourish.

The world is huge. We have this pandemic that is likely to stay with us well past Trump’s time as president, which I hope ends in January 2021. We have many existential threats facing us: climate change, race relations/civil unrest, war and peace, terror threats.

There also will be plenty of wreckage left behind by Donald Trump that the next president — and I want it badly to be Joe Biden — will have to clean off the deck.

You see, all of this will require my attention. I intend to attend to all of it in due course as we move past the Donald Trump Era of Political Malfeasance.

I also have other matters to ponder, the “life experience” stuff that occasionally gets my attention. I want to continue chronicling the joy of being parents to Toby the Puppy; we have this eternal retirement journey on which we have embarked and I will discuss that as well with you.

Donald Trump may think he’s bigger than the presidency. He isn’t. The office will recover once he is gone. Trump damn sure isn’t bigger than High Plains Blogger. It, too, will go on.

Puppy Tales, Part 85: He’s gotten jumpy

Toby the Puppy has gotten jumpy, but we think we know the source of his newfound skittishness.

It’s not a worry. Indeed, I get a bit spooked at the very thing that seems to have gotten under Toby’s skin.

It’s the sound of thunder. He no longer likes it. In fact, the sound of it sends our puppy scampering for a bed under which he can curl up.

Toby is now a little more than 6 years old. He’s been through a lot of thunderstorms in his life. He has exhibited little regard to the sound of the thunder … until now.

For that matter, we have discovered he has an acute dislike of the sound of fireworks. The bombs and rockets we ignite on New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July send him into a state of near panic.

But we think we know where he acquired the unsettled behavior.

We attended a fireworks display on the Fourth of July, 2019. We were gathered along a lake in Northeast Texas, with many dozens of other fine folks. We were very close to the launching site for the rockets.

They were loud. As in really loud. Toby the Puppy heard all of that and, shall we say … he didn’t like it one single bit.

His Mommy — aka my wife — took him away from the blast zone, seeking to shield him from the din. It didn’t work.

Toby hasn’t been the same since.

He isn’t traumatized. Of that I am certain. He is an extremely well-adjusted and adaptable puppy. He travels better than any human being I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of my late mother-in-law. Toby is a road warrior, as was my wife’s mother.

However, we have discovered a weak spot in his emotional armor. It’s the loud booming sounds, be they artificial fireworks or the sound and fury created by Mother Nature herself.

Despite all that, Toby the Puppy is practically perfect.

Puppy Tales, Part 84: No yapping from this guy

You know by now that we consider Toby the Puppy to be just about perfect and I am going to provide you with a brief explanation of why we believe it.

We like taking Toby on walks through our neighborhood. It’s often a twice-daily ritual. When we do, we are greeted almost always by barking dogs locked up in homes along the way. We walk by the front yard, the dogs start barking.

If they are small pooches, the barks are more yippy and yappy. You know what I mean.

Toby the Puppy’s reaction to that commotion? He doesn’t even flinch. He keeps on walking. He doesn’t respond to the barks, the yips and yaps directed — I am quite certain — squarely at him.

You also know that Toby the Puppy is not a big dog. He is a Chihuahua mix, a mutt who tips the beam at roughly 13 pounds. He’s more or less a lap dog.

He also has a bark that sounds as if it comes from a much larger pooch. I mean it. Toby’s bark is not a yip. He barks loudly … on the infrequent occasions he chooses to bark. That is not often at all.

He doesn’t bark at other dogs walking in front of our house. He barely pays them any attention at all. He barks when people come to the front door. He’ll issue a warning bark to the visitor and then, when we instruct him, he quiets down.

We have had friends with smallish dogs. One in particular had a pooch that would start barking incessantly whenever we crossed our legs while sitting in our friend’s living room. Fortunately, we do not have that issue with our precious puppy.

He makes us proud … and we certainly tell him so.

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.

Still ‘no!’ on last-word duels

Four years ago I posted an item that talked briefly about my reluctance to engage readers of this blog or other social media acquaintances in a battle of wits.

I wrote: I’m leaning against a possible Last Word Contest with those along my social media network who suffer from the last-word addiction. My sense is that they have more staying power than I do when they engage others — such as me — in these idea exchanges, which is why they’re addicted … and I’m not.

Then again, I could change my mind. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Well, I haven’t changed my mind. My reluctance to engage in such repartee remains as staunch as ever.

I’ll have to admit to something in that regard: I am not smart enough or witty enough or my mind isn’t as facile as others who can’t get enough of this kind of back/forth.

High Plains Blogger allows me to vent. It provides me a forum to express my views on a whole array of issues. It also allows me to talk about matters some might consider trivial; the Puppy Tales series about our beloved pooch Toby, to cite one example. Hey, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I feel like writing. Got it? Good!

As for the last-worditis that afflicts some folks, I know who they are. They know who they are. One of them who sadly recently passed away used to acknowledge my reluctance to engage him in a discussion. I wouldn’t answer his acknowledgement, which I suppose is my way of staying faithful to the personal pledge I made to avoid that kind of (what I consider to be) nonsense.

Part of my increased reluctance has been the intensely personal nature of the volleys that participants fire at each other. One of the goals I have managed to meet with this blog is that I do not launch ad hominem attacks at individuals simply because they disagree with whatever flies off my keyboard and into cyberspace. Consequently, with only very few exceptions, critics of this blog have been relatively high-minded in their responses, although some of their critics have accused them of taking cheap shots.

That’s when it gets nasty. And personal. I watch these rhetorical fire fights from a distance and experience what I only can describe as a sort of out-of-body episode.

But this blog will trudge on. I am proud of it. I enjoy it beyond measure. It gives me relief … even if some folks want to goad me into a battle of wits.

Sorry. You’re outta luck.

Puppy Tales, Part 82: Toby finds a new best friend

Toby the Puppy tips the beam at around 12, maybe 13 pounds.

He thinks, though, that he is much larger. Much meaner. Much tougher than he is. So, when he encounters another pooch of more impressive proportions, Toby might be inclined to ruff and woof his way toward them.

That is, unless he and the other pooch somehow communicate with each other that says “Hey, it’s all good. Let’s be friends.”

He did so today. Toby’s mother and I took him for his morning stroll through the neighborhood. We encountered a friend of ours who was walking his, um, great Dane. Duke is the Dane’s name. He is nine months of age. He weighs in at around 100 pounds. Our friend says he’s still growing, likely to around 150 pounds.

Toby and Duke hit it off right away. They sniffed each other’s … you know. There was no huffing and puffing. No growling. No snapping. Just good old-fashioned canine fellowship.

Which leads me to believe that dogs must be far more intuitive than we give them credit for being. Toby and Duke both knew the other one is friendly. They surely must have communicated that mutual knowledge to each other.

To be sure, our Toby has other large puppy friends. Our grandpuppy, Madden — aka Mad Dog — and Toby and great pals. They carry on whenever they see each other. We venture to our son and daughter-in-law’s home in Allen and the first order of business is to turn the pooches loose in the back yard where they spend a good bit of time running full tilt around the yard.

We have a niece and nephew who live in Austin. Their puppy, Lucy, also gets along well with Toby the Puppy.

Today, Toby the Puppy expanded his roster of friends by one. It just amazes me to the max how our little guy — who tends to think of himself as a big guy — knows when to display his good manners.

Puppy Tales, Part 81: Hey, he’s got his foibles, too

I am obligated to report that despite what you might have inferred, Toby the Puppy does not leap tall buildings in a single bound, or is faster than a speeding bullet. He is not a version of Super Dog.

He has his foibles. One of them is fireworks. He hates ’em. They make him super jumpy. We saw evidence of it this past Fourth of July attending a fireworks show at Lake Bob Sandlin in East Texas. The rockets’ red glare — accompanied by plenty of noise — frightened our brave watchdog.

Overnight as the world welcomed in 2020, fireworks were going off all over our Collin County neighborhood. Toby the Puppy heard ’em. He didn’t like it one little bit.

We tried to turn in at our regular time, a little after 10 p.m. Our granddaughter, Emma, had conked out earlier. Was the puppy ready to snuggle with us at the normal time? Hah!

Even after the fireworks began to subside, he was having none of it. Up and down all night. He didn’t want to go outside to, um, take care of his business. Oh, no!

Dogs, of course, can hear things we mere humans cannot hear. So I’m guessing this morning he was hearing noises that were beyond our earshot.

I remain immensely proud of our Toby the Puppy. However, he has his limitations … just like the rest of us.

Puppy Tales, Part 80: What’s next, note passing?

Toby the Puppy continues to astonish my wife and me.

Just about the time we think we have devised a way to communicate with each other without getting him all wound up/excited/delighted, he surprises us by hearing certain words we thought were innocuous enough for him to ignore.

Take the personal pronouns “him” or “he.” He knows that when he hears those words, the next thing to come out of our mouths involves Toby the Puppy.

I am now considering whether my wife and I need to start passing notes if we have to communicate messages that we don’t necessarily want Toby the hear.

All this reminds me a bit of when my sisters and I were growing up. Our parents were bilingual. They spoke English, obviously. They also were fluent in Greek. They would speak Greek to each other when they didn’t want my sisters and I to hear what they were discussing.

It made me so mad I coulda spit. Mom and Dad didn’t act smug when they put something over on us, however they surely must’ve felt like they were successful in keeping secrets from us. But … whatever.

My wife and I are not bilingual. We are limited to speaking to each other in plain English. Toby doesn’t speak the language, but he damn sure understands it.

I might need to keep a pen and a pocket tablet handy at all times.