Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Puppy Tales, Part 49

Today is a big day in our immediate family. It’s not just because it’s Easter, the holiest day of the year for Christians. It’s because today is Toby the Puppy’s fourth birthday.

He turns 4 on this day, which we have celebrated as his birthday since the moment he joined our family.

I need to tell you that we don’t know with absolute certainty that he came into this world on April 1, 2014, but we have it on pretty good authority that this is close enough to that date to celebrate it.

That “pretty good authority” happened to be the veterinarian who examined him a few days after he showed up in our back yard.

Many of you know the story of how he arrived. Our great niece — who was spending some time with us in Amarillo — found him in an alley not far from where we lived. She eventually found Toby’s “owners” and then asked them if she could keep him; they said yes.

She didn’t tell it to us in quite that fashion when this was unfolding in real time. But that’s another story. The crux of it today is that he had found a new home and had adopted us — my wife and me — as his new parents.

We took him to the vet for his inoculations and to be neutered. Our first question to the doctor was, “How old is he?” She opened his mouth, peered inside and said, categorically, “He’s five months old.”

Well, now. That was in early September 2014; we backed it up five months and landed right on April Fool’s Day. How … about … that?

The joke was on us!

Do not misconstrue a single word here. We have been blessed by Toby’s presence every single day since the moment he arrived with our niece, which is saying quite a lot, since my wife and I have been unapologetic “cat people” for our entire life together.

The two kitties that we had at the time Toby the Puppy came along have since left us and we still mourn them. Toby, though, makes us smile — and, yes, laugh — every single day.

He has been a blast and a joy.

Happy birthday, Pup.

Puppy Tales, Part 48

Toby the Puppy’s vocabulary is growing.

Yes, he understands English. He is now forcing his mother and me to spell more words to avoid getting him too excited.

We live in an RV park on the east side of Amarillo. We have horses grazing in a pasture to our east. Our RV park is swarming with rabbits. We’ve begun seeing some cats wandering through the site and among the vehicles parked throughout.

So, rather than say the words “horse,” “bunnies,” and “kitties” when we notice them, my wife and I now must spell the words out.

Why? Because if we say, for instance, “look at the horses,” Toby’s ears perk up, he jumps on the chair at the rear of our fifth wheel and starts peering in the direction of where we have spotted our equine neighbors. Then, quite naturally, he insists on going outside. We get the same reaction from Toby whenever we mention “bunnies” or “kitties.”

The words “walk” and “treat” long ago became grist for the in-house spelling bee. If we mention either word out loud in Toby’s presence, well, you get what happens.

Here’s some other info for you to consider: When we mention our granddaughter’s name, Toby gets excited beyond all reason. “Do you want to see Emma?” we ask him as we approach where she lives in Allen. He knows Emma’s name and responds with excitement in the extreme.

What’s more, he gives the same response when we mention Madden, the large black Lab who is part of Emma’s family. When we mention Madden, or “Mad Dog” as we also call him, Toby goes ballistic, as he and Mad Dog are good buddies.

So help me, I never thought puppy parenthood could get so complicated.

It’s dark, drizzly, dreary … but our spirits shine brightly!

The temperature won’t rise much above 40 degrees Fahrenheit today.

The clouds won’t lift and the sun will set somewhere on the other side of them.

It’s been dark and drizzly all day.

And the spirits of Texas Panhandle residents haven’t been this bright and cheery since, oh, I don’t know when.

It hasn’t rained much today. I don’t know what the National Weather Service rain gauge will read at the end of the day. My wife, Toby the Puppy and I are living within spittin’ distance of the NWS station next to Rick Husband-Amarillo International Airport. That means whatever the NWS reports will mirror what we will have received at our RV park.

One of the local TV weather forecasters was described by his news anchor colleague as being “giddy” about the rain that has fallen over the region. Amarillo hasn’t yet gotten much of it; more rain is forecast during the night and again Wednesday morning and into the afternoon.

The irony is weird, man! Our spirits have soared as the sky has darkened, bringing badly needed moisture to a region that has been rain- and snow-starved during the entire winter of 2017-18.

Dare we expect to make up our precipitation deficit any time soon? Umm. No. We’ll simply accept what we get with extreme gratitude.

We’ve needed some reason to smile around here. The rain has delivered it.

Happy Trails, Part 82

I have to credit a fellow recreational vehicle camper for this term, but I have come down with a case of the “hitch itch.”

It strikes me whenever we’ve been parked for a length of time, yet the open road beckons us. It is beckoning my wife and me. Thus, I get the “hitch itch,” or the “itch” to hook our fifth wheel RV to the bed of our pickup and hit the road.

The cure for the itch will come quite soon as we head out on another road trip. It will be an intrastate journey, keeping us inside Texas for its length.

It will be a lengthy trip.

Our plans are to make ample use of three state parks, which is our RV campsite of choice. We have a Texas Parks & Wildlife park pass, which waives our entrance fees into any state-run park in Texas. There happens to be a lot of ’em. They’re everywhere! They’re all well-run, well-maintained and well-groomed.

They’re also inexpensive!

We’ll be heading to San Angelo State Park to start off. A couple of days later we’ll shove off for Lockhart State Park south of Austin for several days. Then we drive to Village Creek State Park just north of Beaumont for a brief visit before winding our way back to Amarillo — with a stop in the Metroplex to visit our precious granddaughter and her parents.

This “hitch itch” strikes periodically. Frankly, we suffer from it more than we don’t. We have enjoyed this lifestyle so much that we want keep enjoying it for as long as humanly possible — health permitting.

To date, we both enjoy good health. We both have our wits. We enjoy the open road. Toby the Puppy is a serious road warrior as well.

The only nagging “health problem” we cannot eradicate — nor do we want to get rid of it — is that hitch itch.

It will disappear the moment we hook it all up and hit the road.

Happy Trails, Part 79

LAKE ARROWHEAD STATE PARK, Texas — As the saying goes: There’s a first time for everything.

Now that we’ve stipulated that truism, I hereby disclose that for the time in my life, or my wife’s life or in our life together — which covers more than 46 years — we no longer are tethered to a physical address. We no longer have a house we can call “home,” a place that sits on terra firma.

Our mail goes to a post office box. Our home at this very moment sits on four wheels and it follows along behind a pickup truck.

We closed on the sale of our house this morning. We said goodbye to the place we called home for more than 21 years.

My wife and I — along with Toby the Puppy — are officially footloose. Fancy free? Not really.

For the past several weeks I have taken great joy in seeing the faces of those who ask us about our plans once we sell the house: We look at each other and say, occasionally in unison: We don’t have any plans.

This is where our retirement journey has taken us. We now are doing what we want to do on our own time and on our own terms.

After signing the papers that closed on the sale of our house, we hooked the truck up to our fifth wheel and headed southeast along U.S. 287. We’re going to spend the next few days visiting our granddaughter, her parents, her brothers and her other grandparents.

We’re going to look around the Dallas Metroplex for a place to park our RV. Then we’ll counsel with each other. We’ll return to Amarillo for a while longer, park our RV at the park where we’ve been living for the past few weeks.

Then we plan — eventually, but likely quite soon — to decide where we’ll haul our home on wheels to set up our next temporary residence.

But you see, this vagabond existence upon which we’ve embarked fills us with great joy and a certain sense of relief from the trials and travails of “traditional home ownership.”

We intend to travel. Yes, this new life has been a dream of ours for quite a number of years. We have wanted to see much of North America while hauling an RV. We have seen a good bit of already, but there’s about 7.5 million square miles that are beckoning us. Will we see all of them? I won’t guarantee we can do that.

We intend to give it our best shot.

Yes, we’ll resettle. We need to determine the precise location. That, too, will come in due course. But … hey, what’s the hurry?

Happy Trails, Part 77

This blog enables me to discuss any topic I wish. Thus, this Happy Trails series has fulfilled that need for me.

This post is intended to tell you about a huge change that awaits my wife, Toby the Puppy and me. We are about to become officially fully mobile. I won’t use the term “homeless,” because our home now sits on four wheels and we pull it behind our pickup.

In just a few weeks, my wife and I are going to signs some papers that turn over our house to someone else. We will in very short order no longer own that southwest Amarillo structure we’ve called home for more than 21 years.

We vacated the house this past autumn, living full time in our fifth wheel RV. The house went on the market in late January. It got a lot of showings and then we got an offer. We countered the offer, spent a sleepless night and then decided to accept it.

There you go. Done.

So now our retirement journey will take us somewhere else in due course.

You know already we intend to relocate in North Texas. Our plan is to move nearer to our precious granddaughter, who is growing way too rapidly to suit her grandmother and me. We don’t have a precise landing place just yet. We’ll make that determination eventually.

You see, the beauty of this retirement life my wife and I have chosen is that we are able to remain somewhat flexible.

For my entire 68 years on this Earth, I’ve always had a roof over my head. Even though we will be without a roof attached to a house planted on the ground, we shall remain covered and out of the elements. The difference for us will be able to haul our roof with us as we hit the road for this or that unknown destination.

I posted an item on this blog about the travail of disconnecting our telephone land line. We have gotten through that transition with a minimum of angst.

My strong hunch is that we’re going to get past this next obstacle with comparable ease as well.

But … this is a big step on our ongoing journey.

We are ready.

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.