Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Puppy Tales, Part 46

Take a good look at the face in this picture. It’s the face of a smart puppy. It’s Toby the Puppy, who’s been in our family now for more than three years.

It’s also the face of a pooch that understands complete sentences and catches on quickly to new words and phrases.

We took Toby for a walk this afternoon around the RV park where we’ve been living for some time. We approached a pasture on the east end of the park where some horses often graze. Toby has made the horses’ acquaintance already, has barked at them while his “mother” has stroke their foreheads and noses; the horses give him no particular never mind.

Well, today my wife asked about the beasts. “Where are your horses, Puppy?” she asked Toby. The instant he heard the question, his ears perked up and he raced out to the end of his retractable leash looking for horses in the pasture.

I hope you get my point.

Toby is smart. I’ve boasted already about how “Lassie smart” he is. He understands complete sentences. He understands enough English that my wife have to spell certain words out to avoid having to respond to his hearing the actual words and, thus, react accordingly; however, he’s also learning how to spell, too! We might have to consider developing hand signals … kinda like they do in baseball.

Yes, puppy parenthood is quite the adventure.

May it continue for a long, long time.

Puppy Tales, Part 45

People express their jealousy in various ways: anger, pouting, acting out … or they go overboard in seeking attention.

I guess you can say the same thing about pooches.

We have discovered that Toby the Puppy uses the latter example to get past whatever envy or jealousy he might feel when his mother and I see another canine pal.

We’re ensconced in an RV park near Amarillo’s airport. We have some lovely new neighbors. One couple parked in an RV about three spaces away are the proud parents of a large German shepherd mix. Her name is Maizey. She is a delightful pooch; she’s about 7 years of age.

When we take Toby the Puppy out for his frequent walks/potty pit stops, we often run into Maizey. She might be playing with her parents or she might be leashed up enjoying the sunshine.

Toby and Maizey already have made each other’s acquaintance. They hit it off immediately. You see, Toby is not intimidated by larger dogs; Maizey weighs — and this is just a guess — about 70 pounds; Toby tips the beam at 10 pounds.

But … when my wife and give a little love to Maizey, that sends Toby into a sort of puppy orbit. He jumps all over us. He wants to be loved, too, in the moment. It’s no time to take attention away from Toby and give it all to another pooch.

That would be Toby’s modus operandi.

As I’ve noted already on this blog, Toby the Puppy makes us laugh every single day. Thus, we’ve giggling constantly since September 2014, when Toby joined our family.

I’ll extend a word of thanks to Maizey for cheering us up.

Happy Trails, Part 71

There’s something to be said for living in a recreational vehicle and getting a visual treat such as what we received this evening.

Our retirement has brought us to a new lifestyle. It’s a bit more cramped than what we have experienced. My wife, Toby the Puppy and I are spending our evenings in our fifth wheel. We’re in our second Amarillo, Texas, location.

We vacated the first place right after Christmas; we ventured to North Texas to celebrate the holiday with our granddaughter and her parents, then returned to another RV park near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

This view is from our RV picture window. We saw the sun set in the west and set the sky ablaze as it sank below the horizon.

I’ve mentioned already on this blog about how God blessed the Texas Panhandle with a huge sky in exchange for tall timber and mountains.

I won’t rehash those thoughts.

However, our retirement life in this location has treated us to some spectacular days end sights … and some equally glorious beginning of days.

The sunset today was particularly gratifying, when you consider the bone-chilling days we’ve endured in this part of the world. At least we have avoided the terrible snow/ice/sleet that has plagued much of the rest of the nation.

Today was a special day, made that way by the spectacular sight of the sun sinking slowly in the west.

Let’s do this again tomorrow.

Happy Trails, Part 70

Our retirement journey has hit a bump in the road.

Don’t worry. It’s not serious. It’s not a dealbreaker. There’s an “end game.”

As I write these few words, my wife and I are hunkered down with Toby the Puppy in our fifth wheel waiting out a winter blast that’s plowing through Amarillo, Texas.

The temperature is plummeting through the day. The sun will set — although we won’t see it through the cloud cover — and the temp will bottom out at around 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then it’ll climb back to something more, um, tolerable.

We knew the moment we moved into this fifth wheel full time that we were set to experience a bit of the downside of this new lifestyle we have adopted.

The winter blast we’re experiencing at this moment is one of them.

We’ve taken measures to protect our plumbing. We’ve also taken measures to ensure we have plenty of heat.

As for Toby the Puppy, he seems to have gotten over his case of cabin fever I told you about a few blog posts ago. He knows it’s cold out there and, given that he’s among the smartest — if not the smartest — pooches ever, he is not about to ask his mother and me to go outside until it becomes an absolute imperative … if you know what I mean and I am sure you do.

So, the journey continues. We’re just not going anywhere — until it warms up a bit.

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 43

My wife and I have been catering to Toby the Puppy for a little more than three years. We’ve grown used to spoiling our newest family addition.

Our lives have changed since we moved full time into our fifth wheel. I mean to say “all” of our lives: mine, my much better half’s and Toby the Puppy.

Here’s the deal. When we were living like a “normal” family in a house with walls and doors, all the puppy had to do was traipse outside whenever he felt like it. That presumes, of course, that the weather would allow us to keep the back door open for him to take care of his, um, business. If not, well, we were at his disposal.

The fifth wheel presents another set of concerns for us.

Puppy cannot just go outside. The RV park in Amarillo — just like every RV park where we’ve stayed — mandates dogs must be on a leash. He cannot run around on his own.

No sweat. We get the rule.

My wife and I do spend a lot of time during the course of a day leashing Toby up and taking him outside.

How do we know when it’s time? He “tells” us, more or less.

Since the puppy doesn’t speak English (even though he understands it as well as most human beings I know), he speaks to us with body language and a most expressive face.

He might walk over to either my wife or myself. He’ll start to scratch our leg. We’ll ask, “Do you have to go outside?” Then he’ll shoot a glance usually to the other parent whose leg he isn’t scratching.

We leash him up, take him outside, follow him around the neighborhood, wait for him to, um, “mark” every bit of territory he feels like marking and then we return to our RV. If he has some serious “business” to complete outside, well, he does that, too.

We’re getting used to this increased level of catering Toby the Puppy demands of us. When we resettle eventually in a permanent location, then we’ll have to re-learn how to merely let him have his complete run of the place.

We’ll figure it out … quickly.

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.