Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Puppy Tales, Part 95: Body language speaks loudly

Toby the Puppy’s body-language “vocabulary” is expanding. I want to report briefly on a way he communicates to his Mommy and me and how we learned quickly to understand the message he was delivering.

When we want to take him for one of his twice-daily walks — yes, we’re on a schedule to take him twice each day through the neighborhood — we know he is ready to go … when we ask if he’s “ready” and he grabs the nearest toy and shakes it vigorously.

There you go. He tells us he’s good to go for a walk by grabbing a toy — preferably a squeaker, of which he has plenty laying around the house — and biting it so it makes noise and then shaking the daylights out of it.

It’s a fairly remarkable way of communicating, if you want my humble opinion on it. Well, whether you want my opinion or not, you have it. So there.

It’s just one more aspect of puppy parenthood that has made my bride and me laugh every single day since Toby the Puppy came into our lives.


Puppy Tales, Part 94: He ‘speaks’ to us!

As smart as I have proclaimed Toby the Puppy to be, I concede readily that he doesn’t speak English. That is, he doesn’t communicate with my wife and me in the language that we both speak.

That does not mean that our puppy doesn’t communicate. I have recently concluded that after nearly eight years in our family, he has a way of telling us certain things.

One thing in particular is how he tells us we must get up to let him go into the backyard to relieve himself. How does he do that? By shaking. It usually occurs in the middle of the night.

Toby the Puppy usually sleeps with us at night. When he awakens, he is likely to jump from the bed and then shake the way pooches shake. If we don’t move, he shakes again. He will do so a third time if neither of us still doesn’t get out of bed to take him out.

Do you get it? He knows how to awaken us. He won’t make a sound with his mouth. He just shakes, which creates enough of a noise to awaken us … eventually.

Toby the Puppy remains an amazing family member. He is about to turn 8. We love him dearly. We tell him he’s the “best puppy in the whole world.” He believes it.

He also demonstrates it by refraining from barking in that loud bark of his in the wee hours of the morning. If he has to go outside to take care of business, he just shakes.

His parents — my wife and me — get the message … and we comply.


The streak continues

I don’t write often these days about my blog, which I named High Plains Blogger when I set it up more than a decade ago. I’ll take a brief leap into self-congratulations.

My blog is in the midst of another pretty healthy streak. I have gone 141 consecutive days posting items about this and that. It’s mostly political, but I have branched out to talk about sports on occasion, about my retired (or shall I say semi-retired) life and also about my beloved family.

Oh, and then there’s Toby the Puppy, the pooch who makes my wife and me laugh every single day.

A few of my friends have said they “marvel” at the prolific nature of this blog. A couple of them are bloggers themselves. I admire their work, as it is generally a lot more thoughtful than my own submissions. I haven’t told them as much; I will make sure I do so in short order.

But my blog is part of who I am. I have been writing on High Plains Blogger since before I left my daily print journalism career in August 2012.

I will acknowledge that the current streak isn’t as long as a previous streak that got curtailed after more than 350 straight days by a technical glitch. I missed a day — or maybe it was two of them. I’m back at it now.

I intend to keep doing this for as long as I can string sentences together. It is a lead-pipe cinch I won’t run out of topics on which to comment.

Let the topics keep offering themselves to me. I am standing by.


Puppy Tales, Part 93: He dresses himself

It’s been far too long since I have bragged about Toby the Puppy.

So … here comes another tidbit about our smart puppy. He has learned to virtually dress himself. Yep, that’s right. Here’s what I mean.

We like putting shirts and/or sweaters on him during these cold snaps. His fur is light and he is a bit prone to the shivers when the temperature drops too significantly.

What do we do? We fetch his sweater, slip it over his head and one front leg at a time, he lifts the leg so we can slip it through the opening in his garment; we do the same thing with the other front leg.

There you go.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we had to struggle to get Toby to cooperate with us as we sought to keep him warm from the cold weather. Those of us who have raised children know what I’m talking about. If a kid doesn’t want to wear something, it’s a serious chore getting him or her to comply. Same can be said about puppies.

Toby the Puppy was one of those problem “children.” Until now.


Puppy Tales, Part 92: A travelin’ pooch

We are getting close to taking our final RV trip of the year. We won’t go far from the house, only about 50 miles to a state park at Lake Tawakoni.

We’ll bring it home and then winterize it, send it into hibernation.

I just wanted to salute the most notable road warrior in our family. That would be Toby the Puppy.

I hear occasionally from friends and some family members about their pooches getting “car sick.” Toby the Puppy? Hah! He is happy to ride anywhere, at anytime, for any length of time, any distance. No matter what!

Toby has a iron constitution as well. He will let us know he has to relieve himself. How does he do that? By getting out of bed, jumping into the lap of the person in the passenger’s seat in the truck and scratching at our arm. Then we know. Time to stop.

Mostly, though, he just snoozes between us.

I want to offer this good word for all you potential pooch parents who might worry about how your puppy travels, whether he or she gets motion sickness while riding in your vehicle. I am proud to say that Toby the Puppy, the pooch we proclaim to be the No. 1 puppy of all time, is the ultimate road warrior.

Yours can fit that description too.


Puppy Tales, Part 91: Still learning about skills

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy cannot speak English, at least as I understand the language. He does, however, “speak” in a unique way that I have learned to comprehend.

He answers “yes” to questions by doing something in the moment that he does not do any other time.

“Are you hungry?” I might ask. “Do you want to go for a walk?” “Do you want to ride in the truck?” “Do you want to go see Emma?”

If the answer is “yes” to any or all of those queries — which almost always is the case — he responds by grabbing one his many chew toys that he has thrown around every room in our house.

He then shakes the toy. He throws it in the air. He growls at whatever toy he grabs. He might even bark at it.

That is how Toby the Puppy communicates his agreement with whatever question my bride and I would pose to him.

Oh, how do I know when he says “no”? No sweat. He doesn’t do anything. He might offer us a hang-dog look. What question produces something akin to a negative response? “Do you want to take bath?” He doesn’t fight the bath, but clearly it isn’t among his favorite things to do.

He joined our family more than seven years ago. We learn more about him almost daily. I am quite certain Toby the Puppy has his Mommy and me figured out.

Puppy Tales, Part 90: Happy birthday, fella!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy is going to celebrate a birthday. He turns 7 years of age, which means — and this is my fervent hope — that we’ll enjoy his company for a whole lot longer.

We celebrate his birthday on April Fool’s Day.

He joined our family over the Labor Day Weekend of 2014. Our niece was visiting us from the Pacific Northwest. She found him curled up in an alley near our home in Amarillo. He was scared, she said, so he followed her back to our home.

We had intended to take him to an SPCA shelter, but they were closed that weekend. Well, the rest became history in a hurry. He grabbed our hearts, held them close his own in that way that puppies are able to do. We were hooked.

So, after deciding he would join our family, we took Toby to the doctor’s office for his vaccinations, to get an electronic chip installed in his shoulder, to get him — ummm — neutered. First question we asked of the veterinarian: How old is he?

I’ll never forget what she did and said. She looked into his mouth and without flinching she said, “He’s 5 months old.” Period. Full stop. Yada, yada …

That was in early September. We backed up our calendar for five months and discovered — lo and behold! — that five months earlier put his estimated date of birth in early April.

There you have it. The “joke” was on my bride and me. Toby the Puppy had a new home. We had a new member of our family. He has been an utter joy since that day when our niece found him in that alley.

He will have a wonderful birthday.

Puppy Tales, Part 89: The reaction is clear

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy is the first pooch to join our family in … ever! We had a couple of dogs but they didn’t stay long enough to become assimilated into our household.

My wife and I, therefore, became pretty fluent in kitty speak over many decades of welcoming cats into our home. It has taken a bit of time to learn puppy speak, but Toby the Puppy makes it a bit easier.

Lately, he has adopted a new way of communicating whether he is ready to embark somewhere with his parents, my wife and me.

What does he do? Well, we will say, “Do you want to go for a walk, Puppy?” If he does, then he runs for any one of about six or seven toys scattered around the house. He grabs the toy and shakes it violently. That means, in puppy speak, that “yes, I want to go for a walk.”

He will do the same thing if he is ready to go for a ride in the truck. Or if he is ready to see our granddaughter Emma when she comes over for some play time.

We already are aware of how he recognizes certain words, such as treat, or walk, or Emma. We don’t say those words until we are prepared for his enthusiastic response. Plus, we don’t want to let him down if we let those words slip out at the wrong time.

However, our puppy has become very adept at letting us know when we say the right word at the right time.

Puppy Tales, Part 88: Brave and skittish

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy has a remarkable memory.

He once was fearless. Nothing seemed to bother him when he joined our family in early September 2014. Then we went to a Fourth of July celebration in the summer of 2019. He heard fireworks exploding and, shall we say, became frightened by its sound.

Toby the Puppy hasn’t been the same ever since.

It is stormy tonight in North Texas. The sky is lighting up. The thunder is loud. My wife and I enjoy the sound. Not our beloved puppy.

The sounds that never used to make him flinch, now send him scurrying for cover.

Bear in mind that this is the same pooch who acts tough in the presence of much larger doggie beasts. He acts — and sounds with his big, throaty bark — like the meanest Rottweiler you’ll ever hear.

However, he isn’t mean. Not at all. He is gentle and let’s not forget that he weighs about 13 pounds.

Not even a Rottweiler could overpower the sounds we’re hearing tonight. So, our puppy is in good company.

If only we could persuade him that the thunder and lightning won’t hurt him. Or us.

Puppy Tales, Part 87: Earning his spurs

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

TYLER STATE PARK, Texas — You know by now that Toby the Puppy is nearly perfect … if not actually perfect.

One of the aspects of his perfection is that he barks only for a reason. He doesn’t just yip and yap at nothing or nobody. Hardly. He barks when people approach our RV, or our house when we’re at home. He knows when one of us is away from the house and when we return that he doesn’t need to bark; Toby the Puppy simply assumes it’s either his Mother or me.

OK, that all laid out there, here’s a tale of how he put his bigger than expected bark to good use.

We were parked at Tyler State Park. We noticed a raccoon walking through our area. We watched as the ‘coon walked up to an RV a few spaces away from ours. This all happened just before dusk.

Then the sun went down and, without warning — and it was startling to hear — Toby the Puppy went absolutely ballistic. He barked, he snarled, he made noises that we had never heard him make. He was looking out the door of our RV into the dark.

I grabbed a flashlight and looked everywhere in our camp site at what might have caused Toby to go berserk. I found nothing. Then it occurred to me: Toby the Puppy scared that raccoon away!

I cannot prove that the raccoon ventured into our site that evening. I am left only with circumstantial evidence. We saw with our own eyes the raccoon snooping around our neighbor’s rig. Then it got dark and our pooch began snarling at a mystery object outside.

Two plus two does equal four, yes?

There you have it. Toby the Puppy has earned his keep as a supreme watchdog.