More Wag, Less Bark
Have you ever had a connection that changed your life? Mine began on January 31, 2003. Kristine and I had just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary on September 7, 2002. We decided that we wanted to expand our family. We found out that he had just been born in Paris, California, just under an hour north of our home in 4S Ranch. Kristine and I were able to see him at 3 weeks old, and immediately fell in love.
We received a call to let us know that we would be able to take him home at his 8 week mark. Kristine and I had worked all day, and were so excited to get him, that I forgot to bring the cash to pay the breeder. Wells Fargo had to put a special exception, in the mid-evening, on an ATM machine in Temecula to permit me to exceed my normal daily withdraw limit. I was able to obtain what we needed, and off we went to pick him up!
I can still see him sleeping in Kristine’s lap on the way home. We named him Toby. Our 8 week old Weimaraner was coming home! I never had a pet growing up. My brother has severe allergies, and my mom was a neat freak. No dogs allowed, just like in the Snoopy cartoon! Doug was a regular patient at the Johns Hopkins Allergy Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. Side note, Doug interviewed Dr. Ben Carson after he performed the surgery on the congenial twin’s separation for a school project. They were running a little late, so my Dad dropped him off for the interview, and looked for parking. When my Dad finally entered the hospital, he mistakenly cut through the Psychiatric Ward, and became trapped inside. He pressed the red button on the call box, and explained to the nursing staff that he did not belong in there and that his son was visiting with Dr. Carson. The staff came back on the call box, and explained that a lot of people in that ward exclaim, “I don’t belong in here!” Dr. Carson and Doug finished their interview and eventually found my dad and rescued him. It’s just about the only funny story surrounding his battle with severe asthma growing up!
Kristine and I had a new little buddy to care for. We took turns training, feeding him, and letting Toby out at night. For the most part my morning routine unselfishly changed to allow time for long walks, and games of fetch. When I had the opportunity to exercise him for a little longer, we would drive over to dog beach in Del Mar. Other dog owners would come and go, but I would still be testing my arm chucking tennis balls into the waves as he vivaciously swam after them, retrieved them, and begged for me to throw another as soon as he returned to my side at the water’s edge.
Toby was next to me every day as I worked away for 1/3 of my life. I learned much having Toby by my side. He was my shadow for 14 ½ years. He made me unselfish. He forced me take a break during the work day to take him out. He made me spend some quiet time in the mornings to reflect. Most of all, he unconditionally loved me with all of my human flaws. How do we learn so much from our pets when they don’t say a word to us throughout their lifetime?
Toby was our first baby. He was always gentle around everyone. He was sensitive, and could feel Kristine and my emotions. He could be protective and everyone was cautious of his bark and size. My office window provides a view into our courtyard. I would regularly observe visitors reaction as they rang our door bell, and instantly set off Toby’s booming bark!
When we brought our first child, Blake, home from the hospital, Toby would lay right in front of the crib. He would just look up and watch as people looked into the crib at Blake. He never did anything, just protected the new member of the pack!
As Blake began to walk, I began to bring him along with Toby to the park for our morning walk. We would make our loop, and then set up golf balls on tees in a straight line. Blake would hit the balls with his first golf club that Kristine’s mom and dad gave him. We would walk off the distance that the golf balls traveled and track his progress. Every few weeks he would beat his previous best. Toby would be there running circles around us and chasing the golf balls.
When our daughter, Lolly, was born, Toby was just as protective and gentle with her. She would pet him, and walk him around. She put bows on his ears, and he just soaked up the attention. He could not be left alone and always yearned to be with the people and where the action was.
We were very blessed as a family to have a big dog for as long as we did. He was never injured, went missing, or seriously ill. His behavior was the best. Toby didn’t even destroy our shoes, furniture or pillows!
Our sad day came a few weeks back on June 9th. He was struggling with walking, eating and other embarrassing old dog mishaps. Selfishly, I wanted to continue to let him keep going, but we decided as a family that it was time. We wanted to always cherish our wonderful memories, & not prolong his suffering any longer.
We appreciate all of the well wishes on Social Media, and in the mail. I really enjoyed the poem on the card that our Vet sent! Thank you!
I love the bumper sticker that says “More Wag, Less Bark!” I will conclude with an excerpt from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem. He wrote, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” My wish for each of you is that you will find your own Toby in life, a loyal and loving companion to cherish!!!