Tag Archives: Toby the Puppy

Puppy Intuition: It’s real!

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — I have boasted for many years about the intelligence of my pooch, Toby the Puppy.

Well, today he outdid himself.

We pulled into California’s capital city to stay with my cousin and his wife for a couple of nights before we head to the rainy coast. We have been to this city before; we came here a year ago while my bride and I were pulling our RV.

But we did not venture into my cousin’s neighborhood on that earlier visit; we parked our RV in a park several miles from my cousin’s home. Today, we did.

What is so remarkable about Toby the Puppy is that we were about five minutes away from arriving at my cousin’s home when Toby awoke from his snooze, stood up and began peering out the window, looking for all the world as if he wanted to get out and explore wherever we were going. His tail was wagging. He was prancing around the front seat where he had been sleeping.

He does this very thing when we approach our own neighborhood in Princeton, Texas, or when we’re a couple of turns from driving up to my son’s home in Allen, Texas. He’s ready to get out and dash into his own backyard or is ready to play with my son’s two pooches, Madden and Ryder and, of course, to see our granddaughter, Emma.

Today was a different deal altogether. He seemed to recognize several streets away from my cousin’s home that — by golly! — this is where we are going.

Amazing. I’m tellin’ ya. Simply amazing.


Nature gets in the way

VISALIA, Calif. – You’ve heard it said that “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Well, my westward journey delivered that truism to me squarely as I drove into what the weathermen and women around the nation keep referring to as the “atmospheric river.”

To be clear, I haven’t slowed or changed my route to the latest stop on Toby the Puppy’s and my trek. However, I had intended while in this central California community to visit one of nature’s grand exhibits, the sentinels that tower above the forest floor in Sequoia National Park.

No … can … do!

The torrents of rain that have fallen on California for the past several weeks have closed Sequoia and nearby Kings Canyon national parks. I called the Sequoia park office today and learned that Kings Canyon would be closed for the remainder of this month and Sequoia will close until mid-April … but that it remain closed long after that.

Dang it!

We were able to visit the Grand Canyon the other day. That was a wonderful period of exploration for Toby the Puppy and me. And after we visit with family in Sacramento and then Santa Cruz, we’ll venture north toward Eureka, Calif., to see more family.

And along the way we hope to see towering redwood timber, providing of course that Mother Nature will enable us to gaze at those trees.

Still, the adventure continues. More to see and enjoy.


Found: the end of the world!

NEEDLES, Calif. — Bum Phillips, the late, great football coach, once told a magazine interviewer that his hometown of Orange, Texas, “wasn’t the end of the world, but if you get up on your tippy toes, you can see it from there.”

Well, Coach Phillips, I believe I have found the end of the world. It is here … in Needles, Calif.

This is the latest stop for Toby the Puppy and me as we trudge our way westward and northward. It’s an overnighter, then we head for the central part of the state, where we intend to gaze skyward at some tall timber at Sequoia National Park.

There really is nothing to see here. The highway west from Needles is among the more desolate stretches of roadway in these United States. The next day’s travel will be — without a doubt — the least scenic leg of this journey. I’ll be looking at mountains, but they will be far, far away.

Family members await in Sacramento, then in Santa Cruz, then on to Eureka, Calif., before heading into Oregon.

Toby the Puppy and I have enjoyed plenty of scenic splendor so far. The Grand Canyon is as gorgeous as it gets anywhere on Planet Earth. The drive into and away from Gallup, N.M., presented plenty of eye-popping visuals as well.

A saving grace about our stop in Needles has been the courtesy extended by the campground hosts where we are spending the night. Indeed, we aren’t strangers to this particular site, as my bride and I came here at least three times before while pulling an RV. It’s all changed, of course.

For now, though, I am enjoying the company of my pooch, who — to my total non-surprise — has proved himself to be the King of Road Warriors. His stamina is astounding, not to mention his ability to “hold it” for as long as he does.

The road ahead awaits my puppy and me, even if much of the next leg will be oh, so lonely.


Master of impeccable timing

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — You can take this declaration straight to the bank, because it is the unvarnished truth.

Which is that I am the undisputed master of impeccable timing.

How do I know that? Because I ventured to one of the nation’s most sensational natural exhibits — the Grand Canyon — and got there just ahead of the massive crowd of tourists that stampeded onto the park grounds after Toby the Puppy and I had arrived.

We had the parking lot in front of the visitors center virtually to ourselves when we pulled in. We parked our truck and began our trek along the south rim of the canyon. The sky was overcast, the weather was cool, but the wind was calm.

We took in the sights of the splendor laid out before us. My puppy got lots of love from some of the kids who were out there with us.

As I looked back at the parking lot, I noticed it was filling up rapidly. The walking path wasn’t — yet! — jammed with other tourists.

We finished our sojourn along the rim after about three hours and headed back to the truck. We exited the park around noon.

I then noticed that the entry gate where I had just driven up, presented my Senior Pass and entered the park was backed up more than a mile with vehicles and their occupants waiting to get into the park.

I chuckled.

I also wished them luck as they waited their turn — and then I wondered if there was any place for them to park once they got in.

The day for Toby and Puppy and me, though, was spectacular … and you can take that to the bank, too.


Journey about to begin

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. A strange, but I hope invigorating journey is about to commence for Toby the Puppy and me.

It’ll take about a month to complete. I want to get a couple of points out of the way.

First is the obvious aspect of the strangeness of this trek I am about to take. It will be the first such journey without my beloved bride, Kathy Anne. She’s been gone now for a little more than a month. I decided several weeks ago to take this trip just to get out of the house.

So, I will do so likely before the sun comes up in the morning. I will see plenty of friends and family along my journey westward. I am not looking forward to being greeted by those who will look at me, well … differently. Kathy Anne and I spent more than 51 years together and we did practically everything together. 

Virtually all of my friends have known me only as one half of a team. My much better half won’t be there when Toby and I show up. You get my drift, yes?

Now … that’s off my chest. I want to stipulate a more important point, which is the way I intend to chronicle this journey. I will not dwell on the intense sadness I continue to feel. Instead, I intend to convey the marvelous discoveries I will make along the way.

The Grand Canyon awaits; yes, I’ve been there already, but its splendor is beyond description. Same for the sequoia forests of California; I’ve never seen the monstrous trees, so I want to share my awe at nature’s towers. The Pacific Coast highway from San Francisco to the Oregon border (weather permitting) will get plenty of attention, too.

The return trip from the Northwest will include a brief leg along the Loneliest Highway in America and will take my puppy and me through Santa Fe and into West Texas.

This blog serves multiple purposes. It serves as a platform for me to vent on politics and policy It also gives me a voice to express personal feelings and the joy of living the dream. If a grand jury indicts a former POTUS, well, I’ll weigh in on that at the right time. Absent that and some other things I might notice on our trip, I am going to devote a lot of cyber space recording the joys of the sights I see, sounds I hear and the people I meet.

So, with that, let’s enjoy the ride together.


Puppy Tales, No. 100: He’s good to go!

This is the face of a very smart pooch, a critter who has developed some amazing intuitive skill. How do I know that? I am about to tell you how.

Toby the Puppy and I are set to take a road trip out west. We’re going to pile into our pickup truck and head northwest from Collin County toward Amarillo, then the Grand Canyon, to the edge of Death Valley, to Sequoia National Park and then to the Pacific Ocean.

We’ll end up in the Pacific Northwest, visiting friends and family along the way. We’ll be gone about a month.

I have told Toby the Puppy the nitty gritty details of the trip. He has looked at me with his large eyes and cocked his head the way puppies do when they are absorbing information.

I asked him if he was ready to “go on a trip in the truck.” His response was classic. He started wagging his tail, pawing my arm with both of his front feet and then jumped into my arms as if to say, “You bet, Dad. I’m all in!”

So, you see … Toby the Puppy is ready to ride. That means, therefore, so am I.


Open road awaits

As you know by now, my retirement journey has taken a dramatic — and so very tragic — turn in recent weeks.

My bride, Kathy Anne, passed away from cancer. I miss her every minute of every day.

But … the journey we took together is about to resume, but with one significant difference — which I do not need to explain.

Still, I am preparing to hit the road with Toby the Puppy, who’s all in on the travel plans. I’ve told him in vivid detail about our plans. He listened. Wagged his tail. Pawed my arm. He’s good to go!

I intend to make this a journey of adventure. I will travel along some fairly familiar rights-of-way, having made this trek before with my bride. But not all of it will be familiar. The return trip home to North Texas will include some remote stretches of highway through the Nevada mountains, into Utah and then north of Santa Fe, N.M.

Kathy Anne and I always loved to take new, unexplored routes on our travels. I will continue that tradition as best I can during the month Toby the Puppy and I are on the road. And … as some of my friends have requested, I intend fully to chronicle my journey on this blog.

As I have mentioned already, my mission is to clear my head and mend my heart. I won’t set my expectation for success too high; indeed, I won’t set any expectation. I will take this journey one day at a time … which will be the setup for how I intend to live the rest of my life.

So, the open road is clear.


Adaptability: name of game

It looks as though I will get to show off my adaptability chops once I head west next on my journey to the Pacific Ocean.

I had planned to head north from the Grand Canyon, into Utah, and then across Nevada along what they call the “Loneliest Highway in America,” U.S. 50.

Plans change, you know?

Immense snowfall has closed many highways near Lake Tahoe and through the Sierra Nevada Range.  So …

I’m going to take a more southerly route on my way to the ocean.

This I can do.

Toby the Puppy and I are planning our trip to clear our heads and our hearts after the passing my beloved bride, Kathy Anne. It’s something I must do and Toby is all in. At least he’s indicated as much.

I’ll get to see plenty of family members and friends along my journey. My sisters and their husbands await, along with nieces, cousins and their spouses, and many of the friends I have made over the years. I might even reunite with some of my high school classmates.

Just so you know, my plans only extend as far as the trip in a westerly and northerly direction. I haven’t even thought about the return trip.

I am going to stay — shall I say it — adaptable.


Now comes the next leg

Well, we now have arrived at the starting gate for the next leg of our amazing journey through life.

My cherished bride is home with where she belongs after spending three weeks in acute care. The Medical City/McKinney (Texas) emergency room team found a mass in her brain, the surgeon cut most of it out, the labs determined it is cancerous, she spent some time in ICU, then she went to rehab.

Now she is home to be with Toby the Puppy and yours truly.

Treatment for the disease they found will commence in a few days. I just have been utterly amazed, astonished and will be grateful for as long as I live for the care she received at all levels … from the ER, to ICU, to rehab.

I realize they are just “doing their job.” I realize they are trained and instructed to be nice to patients and to not let the stress of their jobs show on their smiling faces.

However, when you’re on the receiving end of that kindness and compassion — at least it’s true in my case — you might feel the need to offer serious shout-outs to the medical pros who tend to your loved one’s needs.

They answered the call.

Now comes the next step in our challenging journey through the marvelous life we are forging together. I believe we are ready.


Puppy Tales, Part 99: He’s dressing himself

You know by now that Toby the Puppy is a smart pooch, perhaps the smartest pooch who ever lived.

I want to provide a brief report on a skill that our puppy has just acquired: He can “dress himself.” Yes, you read that correctly.

How does he perform such a — um — human task? It goes like this:

We use a harness when we take him for walks around our neighborhood. We prefer the shoulder restraint over a collar for one obvious reason: We don’t want to choke him if we need to tug on his leash.

When I tell him I have his harness ready for him to wear, he runs to me and then sits down. I lower the harness below his face. Toby the Puppy then lifts one leg for me to slip one loop over him. Then he lifts the other leg.

Bada-bing, bada-boom! He’s dressed. No fuss whatsoever.

Being a puppy parent has been loads of fun for my bride and me. These little tricks or habits he has learned make it easy.