Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

A bitter date awaits

My bride and I celebrated April 1 in an odd fashion: we commemorated the birth of our puppy, Toby on that day.

He joined our family in early September 2014. We took him to the doctor to get him vaccinated, neutered … all the stuff pet parents do. The vet looked him over and calculated him to be five months of age. We backed it up five months and learned he was born in early April.

Thus, April Fool’s Day became Toby the Puppy’s birthday.

On Monday, he would be 10 years old. Except that he is no longer with us. He passed away from cancer on Dec. 1.

I had struggled mightily to keep him longer. His 12-pound body couldn’t keep up the fight. His demise ended the worst year of my life, adding a poignant symmetry to a year that began with the loss of my wife on Feb. 3, 2023, and ended with Toby’s passing away on Dec. 1.

I still struggle with Toby’s passing. I well up when I see couples walking their own dogs down my street in Princeton, Texas. I told a dear friend today that I get “jealous,” but she responded that it isn’t jealousy I am feeling, but that “You’re just missing your puppy.” I accept that definition of what happens to me.

It will take some time get over my loss of this critter who turned into the best friend and companion I ever could have imagined. We fell in love with him almost the moment we laid eyes on him in September 2014; he felt the same thing toward us, too. We took him on RV trips to all corners of this country and through the western half of Canada. Was he a road warrior? Damn right!

He made us laugh every single day he lived in our home. That is not an exaggeration! Every single day we giggled at something he did.

I wanted to get this posted today, because I’ll be on the road Monday returning from a brief visit to Amarillo … where our journey as dog parents began.

I will miss him forever … and then some.

Journey gets brighter

Many of you — those who follow this blog — know about the journey I have taken for the past year.

It started out painfully. It got better over time as I jumped into my pickup and — with Toby the Puppy riding shotgun — traveled to both coasts of this great nation.

We bid a good fu**ing riddance to 2023. My sons and I burned calendars in my back yard the evening of Dec. 31. I had just said so long to my puppy on Dec. 1, ending the year with nearly the pain I felt when I lost my bride, Kathy Anne, to cancer near the beginning of the year.

But now a new year has arrived. We’re three weeks into 2024 and I am happy — no, thrilled and delighted — to report that the pain has all but subsided. I have laid the foundation for a new life in North Texas.

I am committing to some worthwhile projects. I am socializing more. I vowed to find the light at the end of that dark journey and I am going to declare that the light is shining brightly on me. I hope it shines on my sons, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter.

We have all been through a lot together. I hope they all know how indebted I am for the strength they have shown and demonstrated and I am hoping they have received some strength and encouragement from their old man. They know I love them with every beat of my heart.

My friends all have said that I always will have those moments when emotion takes control of my senses. I get it. Honestly, I truly do.

But I will be damned forever if I let it control me as I soldier on with the rest of my life.

I am looking forward to a year of adventure, I hope a surprise or three, and one that produces plenty of additional cherished memories.

Sending year out with a blaze

My sons and I are planning a laugh-out-loud party in about 24 hours when we bid good riddance to 2023.

Yes, it was the worst year of our lives. It got off to a tragic start in early February with the passing of Kathy Anne, my wife of 51 years and the mother of these two fine men.

But you know what? I do not intend to cry once we commence our brief commemoration. I intend fully to laugh and smile between the guffaws as we light a fire to signal the end of the year that is about to pass into the crapper.

Kathy Anne and I built a wonderful life together. It began when we both were in college. We were so very young, full of energy, passion (for each other) and a spirit of adventure. Our life took us from Oregon to Texas and then we traveled to 48 of our states and about 16 countries.

Then came the second tragic event to befall us. On Dec. 1 we bid farewell to Toby the Puppy, my best friend, companion and the sweetest pooch God ever created. His loss added a tragic symmetry to the year.

But … as the late George Harrison once sang: All things must pass. 

So, my sons and I are going to bid good riddance to 2023 by burning calendars chronicling the horrible year we all endured. We’ll stoke the flames in a fire pit in my backyard.

Then we’ll welcome the new year filled with hope for a better and brighter future.

Happy new year! May your 2024 be full of fun and joy, too.

A different new year awaits

Normally, I am inclined to approach the end of a year with a shrug and an “I’ll take whatever comes next” attitude.

2023 has been, and please excuse the understatement, a radically different span of time for my family and me. We lost the rock of our family at the first of the year when cancer struck my dear bride, Kathy Anne. She passed away Feb. 3 and for the time in my entire life I was left to fend for myself. Yes, I have my sons, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter nearby. I cherish them beyond all measure. However, I am on my own in many ways large and small.

I told someone close to me recently that I lived with my parents until my late teens; then I was inducted into the Army; I served two years under Uncle Sam’s watchful eye; I returned to Mom and Dad’s home; then I met a gorgeous girl in college; we got married shortly thereafter; we were husband and wife for 51 blissful years.

Then she was gone. Just like that. Do you get what I mean by “alone”?

I don’t usually make new year’s resolutions. This year is different. My new year’s resolution — and I am going to declare it here — will be to continue my search for happiness. I will make another declaration. It is that my path is considerably brighter today than it was for most of 2023. I don’t yet know where it will end for me.

I have been able during the months since I lost Kathy Anne to travel through much of the country. I embarked on trips to, as I noted, to “clear my head and mend my heart.” I am happy to report that my noggin is pretty clear as I write these words and my heart is enduring far fewer spasms of grief. I need to state, though, that Kathy Anne’s illness and passing wasn’t the end of my sorrow. On Dec. 1 I lost Toby the Puppy, my companion and best buddy, as he no longer could battle the cancer that ravaged his body.

I am gathering up all the paper calendars I have collected in my house in Princeton and on Dec. 31 I intend — per a suggestion from a friend — to conduct a 2023 calendar-burning event in my back yard. I might even yelp for joy as I watch the flames engulf the numbers “2023.”

When the flames subside and the embers cool in the fire pit, I will commence my journey forward. Kathy Anne insisted many years ago that I seek happiness were she to leave this Earth first. Therefore, I am following her directive.

Forward is the only path for me.

Here is to a much happier year ahead.

Kitty steps up? You bet!

Most of us know that cats are a bit harder to read than dogs. Their personalities are more, um, hidden from human eyes.

However, I am going to presume something about one of my grandkitties that you might find implausible. Or … you might get it!

We lost Toby the Puppy on Dec. 1. Cancer had become too much for him, so we had to let him go.

For several months, my Princeton house has been occupied by two kitties, Marlowe and Macy, who moved in with my son when he relocated here from Amarillo shortly after my dear bride, Kathy Anne, passed away.

Marlowe and Macy made themselves at home quickly. They and Toby reached an understanding almost immediately … which was that this is Toby’s house and he was the boss.

Well, since I lost Toby, Marlowe has become my latest bunk mate. He sleeps with me almost every night. He often will snuggle with me, pressing his brutish body against mine as he gets comfortable.

I have difficulty reading Marlowe’s mind the way I could read Toby the Puppy’s mind. But I am going to conclude that he is feeling Toby’s loss as much as I am. He is reaching out to his “grandpa,” telling me it’s OK, that I have Marlowe and his sister, Macy, to give me comfort.

Is this possible? Well, since I cannot prove that it isn’t, I am going to presume the best about my grandkitty.

No stress Christmas

Every year I make same pledge, which is that I refuse to get caught in the swirl of pressure associated with “getting ready” for Christmas.

I cannot remember when I first made the pledge. It doesn’t matter when. Just know that I did and every year since then I have been nominally successful.

This Christmas presents some unique challenges for me. It will be the first holiday in 52 years without Kathy Anne. We lost her on Feb. 3. We struggled through the year in various stages of grief. Then on Dec. 1 we got another punch in the gut when we lost Toby the Puppy. My puppy was far more than a pet; he was my traveling companion, my bunk mate, my best pal.

So … we’re dealing with that loss, too.

However, I want to stipulate that Christmas has arrived and I am proceeding as pledged. I won’t let the stress associated with the holiday overtake me. Indeed, I am actually enjoying the act of shopping for the holiday. As I write this blog item, I am essentially done shopping.

Today is Dec. 10. I am effectively done with two whole weeks to go before Santa arrives. I am going to be like the proverbial cool breeze from this day forward.

I am going to hug my family and my friends. I am going to relish the joy they have in welcoming the season.

Oh, I am going to have a calendar-burning event in my back yard on New Year’s Eve. The fire pit awaits. I don’t have many 2023 calendars laying around the house, but those I have found are doomed to become nothing more than ash as I bid good fu**ing riddance to the worst year of my life.

What lies ahead for 2024? New adventures, surprises that present themselves. It’s a new year that will allow me to move forward with optimism and joy.

Getting ready for a burning

I have concluded that the only way I should bid farewell to the most horrible year of my life is to light a fire.

The idea comes, in fact, from a friend in Beaumont, Texas. I am going to heed his advice.

I intend to gather up every paper 2023 calendar I have in my Princeton, Texas, home. I then will place them in a fire pit I have in my back yard.

Then I am going to light them on fire. Burn them into ashes and embers. I want zero evidence of their presence in my home.

The year 2023 will be known in my house as the Year of the Broken Heart. It shattered into a million pieces on Feb. 3 when my dear bride, Kathy Anne, passed away from the savage effects of glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.

It took some time to find my way out of the darkness, but I am essentially free of that pain. Most of the time. It still hurts on occasion, such as yesterday when I got weepy with my son talking about his Mom.

Then came the loss of Toby the Puppy on Dec. 1. He suffered cancer in various organs. He got too weak to continue the chemotherapy treatments. He had become a valued companion and buddy. We grieved together. My sons and I let him go and my heart broke all over again.

So … I now await the new year. 2024 will be a year of continuing recovery, but the journey is a lot brighter than when it began earlier in this most miserable year of my life.

And to my friend, Dan, who prompted me with this notion I offer a heartfelt thank you.

Fire in the hole!

Wishing for a quick end to ’23

Mom always advised me against “wishing my life away” by wanting a date to arrive sooner rather than later.

I am going to ignore Mom’s sage wisdom on one matter, in that I want this year to end as rapidly as possible. That means I will welcome the arrival of 2024 with ruffles and flourishes, perhaps even a whistle and a whoop.

The year 2023 has been one for the sh***er, at least in my house.

I have chronicled for you on this blog multiple tales of my journey through the darkness that began on Feb. 3, the day I lost my wife, Kathy Anne, to glioblastoma. I am happy to declare that my trek’s path is a lot brighter today than it was when it began. But the year has been nothing short of tragic for my family and me nevertheless.

Then, just this past Friday, I had to say farewell to the sweetest puppy God ever produced. Toby had contracted cancer this past summer and he fought it like hell until, well, he just ran out of strength. His doctor informed me that Toby’s quality of life had deteriorated beyond any hope for recovery. It was time to let him go. My sons and I did so.

My house today is eerily quiet without Toby the Puppy.

I always have followed Mom’s advice about wishing my life away. I have steered away, for instance, from phrases like “I can’t wait … “ for something to occur, remembering precisely what she told me. She knew life was too short to seek a quick arrival at the next destination. She was so very correct.

However, I am done with 2023. I want nothing more to do with this godforsaken span of time.

They’re going ban pots and pans on New Year’s Eve in my Princeton neighborhood. I might even join my neighbors in heralding the new year. More to the point, though, is that I will usher out the old one with relish and a hearty “good fu**ing riddance!”

Furthermore, while I am at it, I am likely to give 2023 what we used to call The Finger.

Special pup, indeed

On this first full day in more than nine years without Toby the Puppy in our lives, I am left to ponder just why his passing has hit me so damn hard.

I figured it out this morning as I rolled out of the rack after a mostly sleepless night.

Toby the Puppy simply bowled us over almost the moment he entered our life in Amarillo in September 2014. It took literally no time for us to fall in love with him … and him with us.

His impact on our family was immediate and everlasting. We learned a lot of things about Toby right from the get-go.

  • He loved riding in motor vehicles. All we had to do was mention to him, even as a puppy of just a few months old, “Do you want to go for a ride?” He was good to go. Right then! Right now!
  • Toby’s big-dog bark was music to our ears. He used it sparingly. He was not a yipper-yapper. He would bark selectively, such as when someone would approach the front door. He knew that if both Mommy and Daddy were home, that the person who was knocking at the door might not be welcome. If it was our sons, he learned quickly to recognize them. Oh, and Emma? Well, that’s another matter. He loved our granddaughter wholeheartedly … and she loved him back.
  • Toby was five months old when he joined us. He had precisely two potty mistakes in our house. We never had to swat him. We simply told him, “No, Puppy. You can’t do that in the house.” I’m telling ya, he understood what we said. He didn’t do it ever again.
  • We showered him with expressions of love several times every day. And he knew what the words “I love you” meant. How do I know that? I just did, OK?
  • Toby loved to travel with Kathy Anne and me. We must have driven more than 15,000 miles with him in our truck as we hauled our RV across the nation. He saw the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes; we toured through the western half of Canada … all with Toby the Puppy. He could sit quietly and ride with the best of ’em.

After I lost my bride to cancer earlier this year, Toby the Puppy stepped it up some more by being by my side constantly. He grieved right along with the rest of us. However, he continued to make us smile every day.

He was a constant source of joy for all who met him, knew him and, of course, loved him.

I will miss my one-of-a-kind pal.

Heart breaks yet again

The year that is one month away from passing into history will be known in my house as the Year of the Broken Heart.

2023 has been without question the worst year of my life. Today it got even worse. I said goodbye this morning to Toby the Puppy. He had been battling cancer for the past few months. What started as a urinary tract infection this past July turned into cancer of the prostate gland, the bladder, and one of his kidneys.

I took him this morning for his second scheduled chemotherapy treatment and at 9:30 his doctor called to inform me that Toby’s “quality of life” has been compromised beyond recovery. He suffered pain in his left front leg, apparently from a nerve condition. He had suffered severe weight loss. His appetite had all but vanished. All the pain pills and medicine to stimulate his appetite weren’t working.

The doctor gave me all the options that lay before me. I collected myself and told her it was “time to let him go.” I called my sons, who rushed over right away to be with me. We all went back to the clinic and said our goodbyes to the best companion a grieving “daddy” could ever want. Indeed, my year began with the loss of my dear bride, Kathy Anne, to glioblastoma, a savage and aggressive form of brain cancer.

Now this.

Toby joined our family on Labor Day Weekend, 2014. It was love at first sight — for us and for him. We all fell in love with each other on the spot. Kathy Anne decided that we officially would call him “Puppy,” although he did answer to Toby, which was the name given to him by his previous family.

He went everywhere with us in our RVs. To both coasts and the Great Lakes, through the western half of Canada. To dozens of Texas state parks. Toby was a road warrior. He was smart. Toby would react excitedly to hearing Emma’s name, even though our granddaughter was not necessarily present when we mentioned her to him.

Toby had a bark that belied his small size. He sounded much larger than he was … and that made it all the more special when he did bark, because he did so only for a reason, such as when strangers would come to our door.

I sought to chronicle Toby’s life on this blog with the series I called “Puppy Tales.” A theme throughout the series was his ability to bring smiles to our faces. Indeed, he made us laugh every … single … day.

Puppy Tales | Search Results | High Plains Blogger

I am not laughing today. I am saddened beyond all measure. I will miss Toby the Puppy for longer than I can imagine at this moment.