Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

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.

Puppy Tales, Part 86: Reading lips? Really?



TYLER STATE PARK, Texas — Spare me the derisive laughter when I reveal the latest wonderment involving Toby the Puppy.

I was sitting in our recreational vehicle; the air conditioner was blasting cool air throughout the RV. It was making a lot of noise.

Toby was lying on the floor next to the bed in our bedroom. He and I made eye contact. Then I turned to my wife and I whispered to her: Do you think we should take Puppy for a walk?

As the Almighty is my witness, the moment I said the word “walk,” Toby jumped up and ran toward us. His tail was wagging. He wanted to go on a walk through the Tyler State Park campground.

My wife offered a potentially plausible explanation for what we both witnessed, which was that Toby is blessed with exceptional hearing. I won’t accept her rational thinking … just yet.

I want to make it abundantly clear that I spoke to my wife in that moment in a voice that couldn’t possibly be heard above the roar of the A/C. Yet our puppy responded immediately after watching me say the operative word.

Not long after Toby the Puppy joined our family, my wife and I learned to avoid saying certain words in his presence unless we were prepared to act on what we had just said. In other words we didn’t say the word “walk” unless we intended to it in the moment.

It’s a good think we could act on it when I mouthed the word “walk.”

I will take greater care from this day forward.

What’s next, post-Trump?



Yes, I do think at times of matters that take my brain into outer space.

One of them has popped into my noggin and it has to do, not surprisingly, with Donald John Trump.

I have spent a lot of emotional energy on High Plains Blogger commenting on the foibles of Trump and the presidency he inherited. What will happen to this blog once Donald Trump exits the White House? You probably haven’t thought about it, as you have many other things to occupy your mind. Truth be told, so do I, but I still have time to ponder things such as this.

I am supremely confident that this blog will continue. For all I know it might even flourish.

The world is huge. We have this pandemic that is likely to stay with us well past Trump’s time as president, which I hope ends in January 2021. We have many existential threats facing us: climate change, race relations/civil unrest, war and peace, terror threats.

There also will be plenty of wreckage left behind by Donald Trump that the next president — and I want it badly to be Joe Biden — will have to clean off the deck.

You see, all of this will require my attention. I intend to attend to all of it in due course as we move past the Donald Trump Era of Political Malfeasance.

I also have other matters to ponder, the “life experience” stuff that occasionally gets my attention. I want to continue chronicling the joy of being parents to Toby the Puppy; we have this eternal retirement journey on which we have embarked and I will discuss that as well with you.

Donald Trump may think he’s bigger than the presidency. He isn’t. The office will recover once he is gone. Trump damn sure isn’t bigger than High Plains Blogger. It, too, will go on.

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.