Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

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.

Puppy Tales, Part 79: What would he do if he caught one?

LAKE LIVINGSTON STATE PARK, Texas — We came to a place that is swarming with squirrels. They seem to be everywhere.

Their presence among us begs the question: What would Toby the Puppy do if he actually managed to catch one of them?

As you likely can figure out, Toby has gone nuts straining to get at the little bushy-tailed critters that scamper through our RV campsite. He sees ’em and wants to get at ’em. They scoot up a tree and Toby tries like the dickens to dig in enough to start climbing after the squirrels. Well, no luck there.

I keep telling Toby the Puppy that God didn’t put him on this Earth with the ability to climb trees. He dismisses that bit of truth-telling. He seeks to get up the trees anyhow.

I keep wondering what in the world he would if he ever were to catch one of them. How would he hold? Could he hold it? Would he be, um, aggressive and seek to harm it?

I ask these questions because he is so remarkably gentle. All he wants is to lick people’s hands when they reach out to him. He does get a little jumpy when too many children approach him. We were forced to advise some little girls camped not far from us about that; they were at Lake Livingston as part of a Girl Scout/Brownie outing. Toby wanted to visit with them — but only one at a time.

Back to my point …

I hope I never will find out what he does if he catches a squirrel. I don’t anticipate that ever happening.

He does get mighty excited, though, to see these potential “friends.” We just need to remember to keep him on the short leash.

Puppy Tales, Part 78: Now he’s reading my mind … sheesh!

It’s getting weird around our house.

I have boasted about Toby the Puppy’s increasing vocabulary. He knows many words and response appropriately when he hears them. I have bragged about how he learned to use the doggie door leading out to our back yard.

Now there’s this …

I was going to ask my wife, in Toby the Puppy’s presence, whether we “should take … “ him for a stroll in the neighborhood.

When I said the words “should take,” Toby jumped straight up, ran to grab one of his toys, began wagging his tail vigorously and acted very much like he does when he hears the word “walk.”

Do you get my drift? He now is reading my mind. He is anticipating — correctly, I need to add — what I am about to say.

This pooch is continuing to amaze me. Yes, he makes us laugh every single day. He is continuing as well to astound me with his growing command of the English language.

Happy Trails, Part 170: Wonderful trek comes to an end

I am happy to report that my wife, Toby the Puppy and I are safely ensconced in our Collin County home. We pulled today into Princeton, Texas, at 5 p.m.

We unloaded our pickup and our RV. We locked the vehicles up in front of the house and we’re going to relax for the evening.

Now for a couple of particulars about our multi-state, multi-province trek through the western half of North America.

For starters, we logged precisely 6,037 miles on our pickup and, by association, on our fifth wheel. We traveled through seven states on our way to the U.S.-Canada border. Then we visited four provinces on our journey from west to east in that monstrous nation to our north. On the return to the U.S. of A., we crossed through six more states, not counting Texas — from where this journey began a little more than a month ago.

This is precisely the kind of trek we envisioned taking when we retired from our respective working lives just a few years ago. I quit working full time in newspapers in August 2012, but didn’t actually begin retirement until I turned 66 in 2015. My wife quit her accounting job a few months after I left my job at the Amarillo Globe-News.

Our retirement journey has taken us already to a lot of places, to both coasts, to the Great Lakes, through much of Texas and New Mexico.

This one, though, was something quite special to my wife and me.

We visited with family in the Pacific Northwest, then we trekked off to British Columbia.

Our journey began with a frightening near-collision just outside of Wichita Falls, Texas. We caught our breath and kept on going. Our journey through the western U.S. and into Canada was largely event-free.

Until this morning! We awoke in Tulsa, Okla., our final stop before we got home, and discovered a flat tire on our fifth wheel. Oh, what to do? Fix it ourselves? Call the roadside assistance program to which we belong? Or do we look for a local person to solve the problem? We lucked out. The RV park where we spent two nights has a handyman on staff who changes RV tires. We paid the gentleman a small fee for his effort and we were on our way to the house.

We saw much of Mother Nature’s splendor throughout our journey. We witnessed the big sky of the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. We drove through marvelous farming and ranching country. We peered at the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mountains.

It’s time to take a break. We’ll catch our breath. We’ll visit with our granddaughter and her parents and get caught up with what is going on with her.

The next trip awaits. I don’t know when or where it will take us.

That’s all right. It’s the beauty of retired life. We have the whole wide world at our disposal.