Toby (November 1982-September 13, 1996)

Our beloved Baby Dog, Toby, was adopted from the Brazos County (TX) SPCA in January 1983. We think he was born around November 15, 1982, give or take a week. He was a Border Collie-Springer Spaniel cross, one of a litter of three who were orphaned at 3 weeks when their mother was run over. The SPCA volunteer who bottle fed and weaned him kept him in her garage with a stray duck she was caring for. When we first saw him he was 5 weeks or so old, and covered with duck spit, where the bird had been pecking at him. Nevertheless, as soon as I laid eyes on him, I said, "That's the one." There are just some things that you know in your deepest heart, and one of those things is the dog you are destined to have.

Toby came into our lives at a time when we needed him very much. We had just moved to Texas, had no friends and no money, and were thousands of miles away from all that was familiar. The demands of raising a puppy and the delight of having a dog's love and companionship were what we needed to ease the pains of separation and homesickness. Toby was named for the dog in the Punch and Judy show, who keeps the Devil away from his master, and in many, many ways our Toby did that for us. We owe him much, much more than we can ever express, and it's not an exaggeration to say that had it not been for Toby, my life today would be completely different. My debt to him is greater than I could ever repay, in this world or the next.

He was a pretty neurotic puppy, having been weaned too early and improperly socialized, but the years mellowed him and he turned into a real "people dog" who asked nothing more of life than to sit at our feet and be petted. He was warm-hearted, funny, and affectionate; the smartest dog I ever knew, and possessed boundless energy. In his old age he developed urinary tract trouble and an odd assortment of creaks and groans in his joints, but until the day of his death he never lost his enjoyment of life and the intensity of his love and devotion never flagged.

He died very suddenly and unexpectedly of a stomach torsion that hit him sometime during the night. I found him in extremis at 7:30 in the morning of September 13th, and rushed him to the clinic, but there was nothing to be done; his stomach had burst and he was beyond hope. I was with him when he was eased out of his pain into whatever world good dogs go to when their time here on Earth has ended. I was there to pet him one last time, and to tell him he was my one and only true Baby Dog, and always would be.

Even now, decades after his death, I still dream about him sometimes. There are times when I wonder whether in fact he was "just a dog," or if perhaps he was something more. Perhaps he was some kind of messenger; or maybe a test of some kind. If he was sent as a test, I hope I passed. The picture to the right was taken just about a week before he died; it's almost the last one we have of him.

The picture at the top of the page was taken in April 1984. Please take a moment to look at him as he was in his prime years, and see how beautiful he was! Please know that he was a brave, loyal, and good dog, and that no better friend ever lived. This poor world is a better place because he lived in it all too briefly. We mere humans can't "own" dogs; we just borrow them from God for a little while, but we always have to give them back. A dog's devotion is one of the greatest joys life can bring to us: I am not sure we deserve it.


I was the first dog.
I am the one who saved you
After you saved me.

| Gordo | Penny| Dante | Toby | Tucker | Meg | Tessa | Tycho | Lucy | Tehya|