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Monday, February 02, 2009

Series of Firsts: First Dog

Growing up, my family only had two dogs, both of them were named Toby. We got the first Toby when I was really young—maybe five or six. He was a black mutt who must have had quite a bit of poodle in him. To my knowledge, no pictures were ever taken of Toby. If they existed at one time, I never seen them, which is sort of sad. Unfortunately, Toby didn’t last very long. He died shortly after we got him. I was so young that I can’t remember the exact reason he died.

But today, I want to tell you about Toby II. Yeah, I know this is a series about firsts, but it’s hard to write about your first dog when you hardly remember him. So, I’m going to write about the first dog I can remember.

Toby II was a toy dachshund. He was hyper beyond words. He chewed up furniture. He ran through the house like somebody had set his tail on fire. And he liked to bark. Eventually, my mom gave him an entire room in the basement to prevent him from destroying everything on the main floor. Toby loved going outside every day. I spent many summer nights in the backyard chasing him around and trying to figure out what animal had caught his attention and caused him to bark incessantly.

He also had a habit of carrying off anything he could get into his mouth. One day, my grandfather was in my backyard fixing something when he turned around in time to see Toby carrying his hammer off. We had a fenced in backyard, but catching Toby still wasn’t easy. Grandpa eventually got his hammer back and then Toby carried off another one of his tools. I won’t repeat what he said here, but let’s just say he wasn’t happy. But I’m pretty sure he was smiling as he recounted the story for my mom.

Toby also had a thing for winter. He loved it. In hindsight, maybe he just loved being outdoors. Either way, my entire family used to get such a laugh out of Toby trying to plow through the snow in our backyard. His legs were just a couple of inches long, but he looked like he walked on top of the snow. I think his little legs were moving so fast that he didn’t give them time to sink in the snow. But at times, he took on bigger snow drifts than a dog his size should have. I started feeling sorry for him and began shoveling paths for him all over the backyard. I always dug one all the way to the back of the yard so he could get close to the alley—his preferred place—so he could bark at cats and squirrels. Then I’d dig offshoot paths for him. He loved it so much that it was hard to get him to come in sometimes.

Toby had a good life, and he gave my family many good moments. He died when he was 13 or 14 years old. Sadly, I don’t think we have any photos of him either. It just wasn’t something I thought about back in those days. But in my mind, he’ll always be my first dog.


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