While this weekend was full of yummy big dinners with my family, fun and relaxation with Russ, and hobbling across the finish line after limping through 13.1 miles, I need to take this moment and first talk about a little guy that came into our lives ten years ago and captured our hearts more and more each day.Toby came to be a part of the Cohen household via that same route that lots of puppies and kitties find a home- through the “pleeeeeeease mom?! We promise to take care of him!”
Toby was no different. We begged and we pleaded, and finally, somehow, mom gave in and we started our search for the perfect little dog to join our family. We visited a couple shelters and no dog was just right. We went to visit my grandmom one Friday afternoon and ended up coming home for Shabbat dinner with a grandmom…and a dog! I still remember the day we brought him home and how timid he was. That was before we realized that little ol’ shy Toby was actually a big, barking guard dog, which is why the nursing home was ready to find him a loving family. Toby was a little too protective of the residents in the nursing home, but he always did a great job of protecting us, his pack.Over the years, we learned and came to love all of Toby’s little idiosyncrasies. The way he would wipe his face on the couch or roll around on the floor after he ate dinner. The way he would REFUSE to walk one step more than he wanted to before wanting to go home on walks; the way he would refuse almost any treat that wasn’t pure meat- such a picky little puppy.The way he would wake us up to go outside in the middle of the night, and then want to PLAY at three a.m when we would come back inside; the way he would bark at the big dogs and pull to go over to them, but if we took him off the leash, he would hide behind our legs; the way he used to run like the fastest little bunny when he would get outside; the way he would choke himself, drag his nails on the ground and use all 15 pounds of his weight to walk on certain sides of the street every. single. time. <– that one might be the weirdest. We learned the bark for food, the bark for going outside, and the bark for a treat.And guess what? Toby was trilingual! He knew words in English (want to go for a walk? want to go outside? Sit, lie down, roll over, shake hands, open. Hungry for dinner? TREAT?!?! [That was a favorite word]) as well as words in German tanz= dance) and Yiddish!
Yes, Toby could really dance if you told him to do it. And he knew how to shake both left and right paws. Also, if he needed to take a pill and we would say ‘open’, he would open his mouth. So talented!
Toby had a lot of friends in his little doggy life. Despite what the cat may think, Toby and Misu were buddies and Toby often shared his food and pillow with Misu. Toby and my dad were best of friends. My dad gave Toby little massages that he loved and Toby would thank him with little doggy kisses. He was always parsimonious with the doggy kisses, but was more generous when it came to my dad. Toby and my mom even had a special bond. He knew she was the dinner lady; the one that made the perfect ratio of kibble, chicken and sometimes rice. She would even make chickens just for Toby. Is that love, or what?
Toby and Leland also had a pretty special bond. I imagine that Toby and Leland had some good conversations on the many, many walks that the two of them took together (especially in the last couple of years). I know that Toby relied on Leland for the afternoon walks and to keep him company when parents were at work. As the only two birds left in the nest, they stuck together.
See, Toby made a lot of friends over the years, from those of us in his pack, to the kind people that took care of him when we went on vacation, to the other doggies in the neighborhood, there were a lot of people that knew him. I suppose I should mention that Toby had a couple enemies too, but I don’t think he meant anything by it and he apologizes for hurting you. He was only protecting us.
I can’t quite express how much Toby will be missed, from his barking when we would come home, to the way he would roll over six times when he would see a treat- before we even said anything. I’ll miss his warm body sleeping at the foot of my bed. Can I just say that I have a queen sized bed and Toby always, without fail, chose to sleep right next to my legs so that I would have the tiniest bit of space and he would have the whole bed? There were many occasions where I woke up sleeping in a diagonal because he was sleeping where my feet should have been.
Toby was strange, and he did funny/ weird/ annoying things, but he was our Toby and that’s how he’ll be remembered, He’ll always be our first dog and he will always be a part of our family.Give your doggy a few extra cuddles when you see him or her. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.Right before he was put down on Sunday night, I told him all of this and I told him that he will always have a little piece of my heart. I have never said anything more true to him.Rest easy, puppy.