I had my finger poised over the SPAM button when I noticed it was NOT an ad for Viagra or cheap cigarettes as is usually the case when I get a new comment on an old blog. It was the “extra-large Chocolate Lab” part that grabbed me. My heart jumped and my tummy tightened. This guy was talking about my dog. The one Lynn and Lucas shipped from Costa Rica. The Tobster I loved to the moon!
The one that shattered the core of my being when I had to re-home him. I held my breath and read the message carefully:
“I adopted an extra-large Chocolate Lab in September of 2015. All I was told is that his owner, a woman, was a writer and that she had lost her house and could no longer keep him. I ran across your story while searching for other dog things and it struck me. Your Toby and mine seem like they could be the same dog.”
The author of the comment somehow found my blog when he was Googling Chocolate Labs! I was thrilled to see he left an email address with his message.
You, dear reader, may remember the story (Part 4 of “On the Verge of Homeless.”)
I re-read my own blog post and the painful memories came flooding back. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
The man who adopted Toby could not be more perfect! Turns out, the rescue people, DPS (Dog Protective Services), called him shortly after Toby arrived. Ten days prior, the man, called Marty, had to put his beloved Yellow Lab, Duke down, due to a horrible cancer that had gone too far to treat. It was devastating. If you have ever had to do it, you know what I mean.
Toby filled the hole left in his heart. He got a call on a Monday, went to see Extra-Large Toby on a Tuesday and took him home that very afternoon. He was not given the children’s book “Toby to the Rescue!” which I gave to the agency. He was not given his shot records which I went to a lot of trouble to retrieve. He was given very little information about his history. He didn’t know Toby was native to Costa Rica and was bilingual. But, to their credit, the agency did an excellent job of matching Toby to his new forever-family!
One evening during a family dinner, Marty was talking about Toby and how he wished he knew more about his past. He had been told about a children’s book written about him in Costa Rica. His cousin, a retired Air Force Colonel, suggested an online search. “Have you Googled children’s books about Chocolate Labs?” she asked.
“Hmmmm, good idea!” said Marty. “I will try it.”
Marty Googled Chocolate Labs/Toby/children’s books. And that’s how Carole Jean’s Capers popped up, contact was made and we set up a meeting. From our communications, Marty’s descriptions, and photos he sent me, I was fairly sure it was the right Toby – but not one hundred percent certain.
I drove to San Jose on a Saturday, parked across the street from the house, and gathered myself before walking up to the front door. It had been a year and a half. Would he remember me, if indeed it was my Toby?
There was NO doubt! It was as though I had seen him yesterday. What a reunion it was! The entire family, Marty, Ari, and Alexandra was genuinely happy to see Toby’s reaction to his former owner. They were full of questions to which I had answers. “Yes, Toby has always jumped in the air like a kangaroo. Yes, Toby has always scarfed his food – we called him “Hoover!” Yes, Toby’s hackles rise when strangers come near the property.” And on like that for two hours.
There could not be a more loving family for Toby. He even has a playmate named Lily, Ari’s little dog who runs circles around Extra-Large boy! In fact, there is a Toby to the rescue story here as well:
When Ari’s little doggie, Lily, was introduced to the household, it was with apprehension due to the enormity of Toby and the tininess of Lily. Not to worry- little dogs have a way of asserting themselves. The two canines became buddies, companions, and even shared backyard squirrel chasing!
One fine Saturday morning Lily ran out the front door and took off down the sidewalk at full speed. Ari and Alex chased after her on foot, Marty grabbed the car keys, and Toby bolted out the door in pursuit. Big guy caught up to Lily, lightly nipped her butt, and sent her running back home! Yay! Toby to the rescue!
That’s the short version. We are all so amazed at the reunion, we are brainstorming ideas for a new book. We think Extra-Large Toby could give “Lassie” a run for the money. Yes, “Timmy might be in the well,” but can Lassie jump high in the air like a kangaroo? Let’s just see about that!
Meanwhile, I now have visiting priveledges. And who knows? Maybe I will be Toby’s pet-sitter if the family goes on vacation. After all, I am CJ the pet-sitter with pearls! And Toby is one lucky dog!