Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Hard to let go of those Panhandle issues

My wife and I are settled nicely now in Collin County, Texas. We are purchasing a new home and our beloved puppy, Toby, is running himself ragged in his new back yard.

But the blog keeps gravitating back to the community we left after living there for 23 years.

Amarillo, Texas, is the place we called “home” for the longest stretch of our married life together. Indeed, we spent roughly half of our life there. I had a great job, and my wife also found solid gainful employment during our years there.

It is hard for me to give up on commenting on issues that still matter to me. Downtown Amarillo’s rebirth still has my attention. So does the incessant street and highway construction. The same can be said of the local political leadership comprising individuals I got to know quite well during my time as a journalist.

With that, I guess I will declare that High Plains Blogger will continue to comment on Amarillo and the rest of the Texas Panhandle.

I feel I developed sufficient familiarity with the issues that are driving Amarillo to enable me to keep abreast of what is happening there even as we pursue our retired life together in Princeton. We surely intend to continue focusing our attention on our granddaughter, who — after all — is the reason we uprooted ourselves from our Amarillo home and relocated to the Metroplex.

Nor will I fail to take note of the places we intend to visit as we continue our travels throughout North America. It’s a huge world out there and I want to share what we find along our journey.

Still, I keep hearing the call to comment on a community I got to know pretty well. So, I will answer that call when it moves me.

It’s impossible to say “farewell.”

Puppy Tales, Part 66: Canine confusion? Hardly!

The events of the past week have convinced me of the following: Toby is hands down, without question the most well-adjusted puppy that God ever created.


We’ve made the move from Fairview, Texas to Princeton, Texas.

We had a bit of confusion and consternation earlier in the day over whether the movers actually would be able to deliver on their promise to get us relocated from one dwelling to the other one.

How did Toby react to it? No sweat, Mom and Dad. It’ll happen. Trust me on this.

He occasionally has reacted to our emotional ups and downs. When we lost our two kitties a while back — Socks and Mittens — our puppy stepped up to give us an extra measure of the kind of love only he can deliver.

So, we got through the chaos of the day. We are settled (more or less) into our new home in Princeton. We have a lot of boxes yet to empty and we have some decisions to make on how we intend to arrange our furniture.

Toby the Puppy climbed into bed tonight as he usually does. He curled up under his blanket. He is, at this moment, sound asleep. He doesn’t have a care in the world.

You see, his world revolves around two human beings: My wife and me . . . in that order.

As my wife has reminded me over the years since he joined our family: He loves you, too; he just loves me more.

And so it goes. Toby the Puppy is the model of being well-adjusted. If only I could take a page from his emotional makeup.

Puppy Tales, Part 65: A sibling . . . maybe?

Psst. Don’t let this get out just yet, but there might be a surprise awaiting Toby the Puppy in a few months.

When he joined our family more than four years ago, he entered a household with two cats: Socks and Mittens. Neither of his new siblings thought much of him when he took up residence in our home. They viewed him initially as an uninvited guest.

Socks grew to tolerate the new family member; Mittens, not so much. We lost them both eventually. They had grown older and had lived great lives with us. Then we just had Toby. He took over right away. It was love at first sight; us with him and vice versa.

Well, Toby’s mother and I are talking openly now about adopting another furry family member. It’s going to occur in a few months. We have a couple of trips to take in our fifth wheel RV. We’re heading soon to New Orleans by way of the Hill Country and the Golden Triangle. Later this year, probably in late summer, we’re hoping to take a “bucket list” journey across Canada; we would venture northwest toward Vancouver and head east along Highway 1 toward the Maritime Provinces. There might be a short trip or two between those two adventures.

After that epic journey way up north, though, we just might surprise Toby the Puppy.

We’ve long been cat parents. We raised many kitties over our many years together. Toby joined us in September 2014 in a strange fashion. However, we love him so very much. We tell him so every day. He knows what we are saying when we tell him we love him.

How might he react to a feline addition to our family? I am as confident as I can be that he will adapt beautifully. Toby is as well-adjusted, well-behaved and settled a canine as I can imagine.

So, with that, we intend to keep it a secret from Toby the Puppy until the moment we decide to expand our family.

Mum’s the word.

Happy Trails, Part 137: The final stop . . . found!

I have been waiting for the right moment to reveal this bit of news for readers of this blog. That moment arrived today, around 1 p.m.

That was when my wife and I — in the presence of our daughter-in-law, son and granddaughter — tendered an offer on a new home that we intend to purchase.

Why is that a big deal? Here’s why.

We had intended to retire forever and ever in an apartment in Fairview, Texas, sandwiched between Allen and McKinney just north of Dallas. Then we discovered almost immediately that apartment living wasn’t in the cards. The location of the place is perfect; it is near plenty of shopping and entertainment opportunities; it is close to our granddaughter; it’s a comfortable pad that my wife has turned into a nice home for us.

We just don’t want to stay here for “the duration.”

So we began looking around for a house to purchase. We came up empty, until just this week!

We ventured Friday to Princeton, Texas, about 10 miles from our dwelling in Fairview. We found a new development. We talked to the builder’s on-site managers. We looked at some houses and we settled on one of them.

We got in touch with our daughter-in-law, who happens to be a Realtor. We sat with her, our son and little Emma to talk about crafting an offer. Our daughter-in-law/Realtor — Stephanie — came up with a figure and today she presented it to the builder on our behalf. She and the builder’s rep went back and forth for a bit.

Then we settled on a figure. Signed a whole stack of documents. The deal got done!

So, our retirement journey is taking one final turn, one more lap.

Then we’ll be done. We have found our “forever home.” It’s a modest abode, but it’s just about perfect for my wife and me, along with Toby the Puppy. It is a brand-new dwelling. We intend to be its residents for as long as is humanly possible.

This wasn’t part of our original plan. However, having made this decision, we are extremely happy with the path our retirement life has taken.

Oh, our fifth-wheel RV, the one we take on the road? It’s still there, waiting for its next journey. That’s coming up, too.

Yep, life is quite good.

Puppy Tales, Part 64: Still laughing daily

Toby the Puppy joined our family in early September 2014. He quite literally just showed up. It was love at first sight — for him and for us.

I am happy to report something that you might already suspect. It is that after more than four years of life with this 12-pound ball of energy, my wife and I are still laughing every single day as our puppy continues to entertain us.

It doesn’t take much to make us giggle.

We watch him walk ahead of us, his rear end swiveling with each quick-step he takes; we laugh. We ask him a question in complete sentences; he cocks his head as if to understand every word we’ve just uttered and then he looks at each of us for a response. We ask him if he wants to go for a ride in the car or take a walk; he grabs his favorite ball from wherever he placed it last and wants to take it with him.

Every walk we take with Toby is as if he’s never done it before. He whirls in circles waiting for his leash.

We leave him at home for, oh, 10 minutes. We return and he acts as if we’ve gone for 10 days. He jumps into our arms, licking our faces.

Toby the Puppy is a font of laughter.

I am quite certain that we have giggled or guffawed every day since the moment we laid eyes on him while he sat on our back patio. He looked at us as if to say, “Is this my new home?”

Gladly, it was.

Puppy Tales, Part 63: Answering the meal bell

Toby the Puppy’s ever-expanding vocabulary now includes a feature I want to share with you. It’s his understanding of when his mother and I are getting ready to sit down for a meal.

He hears the call and responds with all due appropriateness.

We have a drill at home. When my wife and I are eating a meal, the puppy lies in a bed we have in the corner of our dining room. He waits patiently for us to finish our meal. Then, depending on what we have just eaten, we allow him to lick our plates. OK, listen up: It’s not as grotesque as some might imagine; we do wash our plates carefully after each meal.

Toby spends a good portion of the day curled up somewhere in our residence. He could be in his kennel, where he likes to sleep during the day; he might be on the couch next to one of us. He might be in our study, snuggled on top of a comforter. He could be sound asleep, “dead to the world,” as the saying goes.

But then when one of us is preparing a meal, we usually say to the other — often in a voice loud enough to be heard in another room — that our meal is ready. “It’s ready!” we might say. Or “Come and get it!” Or maybe “Breakfast is served!”

Toby hears those words, he awakens immediately and then rushes to his bed in the corner of the dining room, curls up, lies down and waits for the “treat” that awaits when we are finished with our meal.

I am convinced that Toby the Puppy would respond appropriately even if we rang a dinner bell. 

Blogging brings a particular joy

My calling as a full-time blogger gives me so much joy, it’s difficult to chronicle all of it.

It keeps me in the game of public policy and politics-watching; it allows me to have my voice heard and my “throat” cleared; it reaches a wide audience that includes those who like what I have to say and those who, well, dislike my message.

I want to speak to the particular joy I receive from those critics, the folks who take the time to give me grief.

They aren’t likely to comment on those matters with which they agree. I have some series going: I write about my Chihuahua mix dog, Toby; I comment on the retired life my wife and I enjoy; I now am writing about the joy that my career as a journalist gave me over nearly four decades.

When I turn my attention to issues relating to Donald Trump and my critical view of the man’s presidency, that brings out the critics. They dust off their weapons and fire away.

Yes, I enjoy getting ’em riled. Not because I want them fired up, that I want to cause them heartburn or cause anxiety attacks. My joy comes only in knowing they, too, are engaged at some level.

Bear in mind this important note, though: No one is required to read these musings. We’re all free to look the other way, to ignore whatever it is that is posted under the name of High Plains Blogger.

That these critics choose to read it and then to comment tells me that (a) they want their blood pressure to increase or (b) they cannot get enough of whatever anger they have pent up inside of them.

Whatever, man.

I know it’s too much to ask these critics to share these messages. I ask only one thing: Just keep reading.

Many thanks to you all. Some of you keep me humble. All of you, though, keep me energized.

Time of My Life: a look back

I have shared with you already my thoughts about my annoying penchant of stressing the negative and pushing aside the positive aspects of a career I enjoyed for 37 years.

I vowed in an earlier blog post that I would seek to look with fondness at a career in daily journalism that gave me much more joy than sadness. Yeah, the sadness at the end of that career stung, but it’s over now. I am a happy fellow, enjoying retirement with my wife and our puppy named Toby.

So, with that I want to announce the start of a recurring feature on this blog. I want to share with you some of the particular events I was privileged to see up close, some of the remarkable things I was able to do, and some of the amazing individuals with whom I had contact during my modestly successful career.

It won’t be an overly frequent feature, but I’ll bring some of these things up when the spirit moves me, or when I lack more topical subjects on which to comment.

I’ve already introduced a couple of such recurring features: Puppy Tales and Happy Trails. You know what they cover. This one I’ll call Time of My Life.

I will ask only thing of you: Understand that I never once saw myself as anyone’s “enemy,” certainly not an “enemy of the American people.” I was just one of many young people who came of age in the early 1970s seeking to make a difference in the community we called home. I clashed a time or two with elected public officials, but in the end they all seemed to understand that I was just doing my job, just as they were doing theirs.

I am likely to share some of those clashes with you. I do not intend to portray myself as the “good guy” and the person with whom I butted heads as the “bad guy.” That’s just one element of this series.

The rest of it will seek to relay to you how much dadgum fun I had pursuing a craft that at times seemed to define me. The fun started in Oregon, my home state and continued through two communities in Texas, in Beaumont and then in Amarillo.

I was fond of telling people after I became an editorial writer, editor and columnist that I had the “best job in the world.” Why? Because I was allowed to foist my opinions on thousands of people every day.

Can it be any more fun than that?

Puppy Tales, Part 62: His vocabulary expands

You are looking at the face of a puppy with an ever-expanding English-language vocabulary.

Toby the Puppy amazes my wife and me almost daily. This morning, though, the amazement rose to a new level. Here is what happened.

I rolled over this morning and started to wake up. As I was getting my wits about me and preparing to roll out of the rack to start my day, Toby jumped on my chest.

I started stroking the side of his face, the front of his neck . . . you know, the usual places puppies like to be stroked.

Then I told Toby what my wife and I tell him multiple times every single day: I love you.

With that, he reached down and licked my nose.

Ah, hah! A coincidence?

I said it again: I love you.

Toby did the same thing, again!

What in the name of canine affection am I supposed to surmise from that? I didn’t do it a third time, but I will conclude only that our puppy understood what I was telling him. He knows the words. He responds quite appropriately.

Who knew that a pooch could respond with such, umm, humanity?

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.