I’ve started this three times already because Toby, our yellow lab, makes it very clear that he belongs only to Husband, and I’ve wondered if I can express what he means to the rest of us. He’s a one-person kind of dog; he tolerates, and sometimes loves the rest of us, yet he is easy to love — and we all do love him. Toby is sweet, gentle, and lovable; he is also finicky, stubborn, and slightly neurotic. He will eat anything and everything — but I’m pretty sure he has IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and we have to watch him like a hawk. Hardwood floors cause him great anxiety and trepidation, but go to the pantry for a biscuit and he trots across the floor without a care. See, food is everything.
We adopted Toby from a lab rescue about 9 years ago when he was just a year and a half, still a puppy in lab years. Our girls fell in love with him at first sight — and my husband was in heaven. Toby had boundless energy and a grin that made us all giggle. When he curled up on his bed for the first time, tail tucked around his body and head resting on his paws, we all felt a collective “aww” well up inside.
Over ten years old now, Toby still can look every bit the puppy. Hold up a biscuit and he holds his head a little higher, neck gets longer, his ears perk up, and those big brown eyes lock on yours. Or let him chase deer, squirrels, or rabbits up in the mountains (they’re all faster than he is) and he’ll chase and leap in a blur. Inside, he must still feel like a puppy — just like most of us, even as we age, often feel like a younger version of ourselves.
When my girls have been most in need of a cuddle, Toby has been there for them to pour out their hearts. When one of us needs a break and a breather, Toby’s been there, ready for a walk at a moment’s notice. I’m really not sure who rescued whom.
So today, on November 5th, I am grateful for the lab rescue that nurtured Toby until we could adopt him as our own. I don’t know what kind of life Toby had in that first year and a half, but our understanding was that it was one of neglect. Way back then, he needed us. Funny how that has changed . . . it’s clear now, that we need him.