Toby & Me

When we look back on our lives, it’s funny to think of the influence they had on us, and what we remember as highlights.

In a moving post by Lex, he remembered taking his dog Lady on a hunting trip, with his dog excited to be going but unable to retrieve anything that she didn’t point to – which was virtually everything.

She drank some putrefied water from an irrigation canal, and on the way home, as Lex said, “blew a gasket” in the car.  The resulting aromatic scene so  disgusted his son as to render him as merely a spectator to seeing his father trying to clean up the mess.

Which eventually so disgusted Lex he had to “chum the fish” to use a nautical term.

To the laughter of SNO.

It’s funny how they intersect with our lives and in their own way enrich our lives.

As for me, I remember a few things about my last dog. Eight years ago, I saw a beautiful 8 year old dog that someone had paid dearly for, unwanted and unclaimed for many weeks in a local pound. “He barked too much”, was what I was told. People didn’t want to take him.

He was about to get the needle as they needed the room.

But he was the dog I was supposed to claim on behalf of my  rescue friend.

We got off to an ominous start when I picked him up at home and he turned around and bit my arm. Drew blood.

Which made me angry enough to throw him to the patio and leave him alone for 12 hours.

He apparently had a low opinion of people. Perhaps if I was in his place I would too.

But from then on, we came to an understanding.

He did love to roam. If the gate were left open with the opportunity, he was gone and bounding down the street. I suppose it was a bit comical to see a middle-aged man trying to chase down a white furry dog who didn’t want to be caught. He did this 3 times, with me somewhat agitated trying to catch this furry white form bouncing down the sidewalk. Every now and then he’d turn back to observe me, and I swear that dog was laughing at me.

But about 2 hours or so later, the dog would appear sitting by my front door. He seemed to be grinning. I guess he needed to roam and I can only surmise he was cooped up alone in someone’s back yard for the first half of his life. He seemed to get roaming out of his system when I shifted our daily 2 mile walk from along the river to the dog park, where he was free to roam as he wished within the confines of the fence.

These dogs that I have had – called American Eskimos in the US but really a white German Spitz – have been known to be high strung and “snippy”. The funny thing is that I have considered myself to be on most occasions too tightly wound and of the 3 Eskies I’ve had all seem to calm down and become mellow around me. Which makes me wonder what their previous owners were like.

Toby used to love to ride in the car – I kept my little Toyota specifically for Eskie transport. He could shed profusely, and during the season in the car on the freeway his hair would be blowing out the open windows into the oncoming traffic behind me.

I can only imagine what the drivers felt with tufts of white hair hitting their windshield.

I used to take him to our monthly Homeowners Association Board meetings, until he became incontinent.  I felt that he was better behaved than some people.

Like Lex’s dog, Toby’s deterioration seemed to start about a year ago – maybe 8 months. But the deterioration was fast – too fast for me to grasp at the time. On the way to the dog park, he’d lag on the leash. After about a month, 2 miles was just too much for him. So I would walk him first a couple of blocks, then just a block while he sniffed those things unknown to us but meaningful only in their world.

We did our block walk right up to his last day, although by then it took 30-45 minutes. His rear legs were stiff – and the arthritis medicine the vet gave me to try just seemed to make him feel worse. So I stopped giving it to him.

He started losing a taste for the treats he used to love.  Things that he used to grab – he’d just put his nose to them and decline.

Except for cheese, as I discovered last week.

He came alive for cheese.

I was putting a slice on a piece of bread and he appeared out of nowhere, like my agent wanting his 10%. Or more if I was feeling gratuitous.

So I held out a piece. If you have ever been to Sea World to see Shamu you could appreciate what he did next. With his hind legs he leapt up. Jaws snapping at that cheese as he started down. When he reached terra firma the old rear legs couldn’t support him – he fell to the floor, legs splayed out. I’ve seen dogs who actually like to recline in this position, so I smiled and thought nothing of it.

I went back upstairs to watch the TV and after 30 minutes or so I noticed I hadn’t seen Toby. I checked all the rooms – couldn’t see him and finally checked the kitchen.

He had been for those 30 minutes silently lying on the floor, legs still splayed apart. I smiled and picked him up, put him on his feet and he nonchalantly walked away as if I was supposed to do this.

Last night I was upstairs and heard him yelping, I went down, petted him until he calmed down, and went upstairs. Thirty minutes later I went down to check on him, and he was gone.

People say that Toby was lucky that I found him.

I think it was the reverse.

He was a good dog.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Toby & Me

  1. Fluffy pup! Bet he’s hard to keep clean 😀

  2. Such brief lives. Off out with Field Marshal Montgomery for a flanking manoeuvre on a seven acre field.

  3. Old AF Sarge

    He had a good human.

  4. Bill Brandt

    Thanks guys

  5. Joanne Sherrill

    We were out of town and just now learned about Toby. As neighbors, we always teased Bill about how Toby was the intelligent member of the Brandt family to attend the HOA Board meetings and how Toby was responsible for getting Bill to the meeting on time. What a beautiful dog and a wonderful disposition. No barking issues ever, just perfect around us less intelligent humans.

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