»  Family Album — Toby



[July 11th, 2008]  Toby joined our family on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008. He previously lived at the Little Shelter here in Huntington, Long Island. Before that he lived in Virginia, the shelter told us. They picked him up from a shelter down there, who had him listed as a stray. We know nothing else about his background. Little Shelter tell us he's about three years old.

Toby is settling in pretty well. He is an energetic and affectionate dog. The only odd thing about him is, he doesn't seem to bark. We haven't heard him bark once yet. This may be just residual shyness, though.

Welcome to our house, Toby. We look forward to many happy years of companionship, and shall deal with the heart-tearing when it comes.


[July 13th, 2008]  The shelter had Toby listed as a Jack Russell terrier. After the death of Boris, my wife found great consolation in Alston Chase's book We Give Our Hearts to Dogs to Tear, which is populated mainly by Jack Russells. She set her own heart on getting a Jack Russell.

Some peculiarities of Toby's appearance, and his refusal to bark (Jack Russells are famously barky), have suggested to some of my readers that Toby may in fact be a feist. I'd appreciate further opinions on this, just to satisfy idle curiosity, and can post more pictures if necessary. It makes no difference to us, as we have already bonded with the little fellow. I myself couldn't care less about pedigree. Mrs. D., for her part, is a person who will not be moved from an opinion once she has formed it; and she has formed the opinion that Toby is a Jack Russell. (Similarly, she believed through all of Boris's long life that he was a "Tibetan terrier," whatever that is, though Boris was as obviously a mixed-breed mutt as a dog can be.)

I had never heard of the feist before readers alerted me. Yes, "feist" is the root of the word "feisty." The word "feist" itself has an … interesting etymology: see here.


[July 15th, 2008]  No, I have checked with knowledgable readers: Toby is definitely a Jack Russell. He speaks for himself here.


[August 26th, 2018]  Toby left us at noon today after several weeks of poor health. He died at home, in his own familiar bed, and seems not to have been in any pain.

We buried him this afternoon under the trees in our back yard, the whole family present: Dad, Mom, Nellie, and Danny. Danny, whose training as an infantryman had included instruction on the digging of foxholes, made a fine deep grave for him. Toby is sleeping there now, with all his favorite blankets, bowls, and stuffed toys.

Goodnight, Toby. Thank you for ten years of unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship.


7/10/08 Our first picture of Toby.
7/10/08 Not quite used to having his picture taken yet, I think he moved as I was taking this.
7/10/08 In profile: a healthy young dog. We can't keep him young for ever, but we'll do our best to keep him healthy, starting with a 45-minute walk every day.
7/15/08 Toby has figured out how to negotiate the tricky stairs up to my attic study, and has taken over my Ikea armchair up here.
7/15/08 Toby on Ikea, from a different angle.
7/15/08 A handsome profile, from both right …
7/15/08  … and left.
7/15/08 Toby has claimed, and been granted …
7/15/08  … sofa privileges.
7/15/08 Toby smiles. This is a revelation to me. I didn't know dogs could smile. It's a lips-back, teeth-baring thing that at first we thought was aggressive. However, it happens when he is very happy or contented — for example, after a long tummy rub — and is often accompanied by a sigh of pleasure. We haven't had much success at capturing it on film yet, but here's our best effort so far: from the side …
7/15/08  … and from the front.
New Year 2009 Six months later. This picture and the following three are all from around New Year 2009. Toby is well settled in now, with sofa privileges now extended to sofa-arm privileges.
New Year 2009 In the garden with Mom …
New Year 2009   … and Nellie.
New Year 2009 For the serious business of walkie-walkies, though, we dress up.
Summer 2013 On his couch, Summer 2013.
Christmas 2014 Toby and his Mom: Christmas, 2014.
Bootees February 2015: Frost & snow outside, so Toby gets boots. This set actually turned out to be too big …
Bootees  … so we traded them in for a smaller, smarter set.

Do empty nesters get a little strange about their pets? I guess so.
Chairdog April 10th, 2015: Toby in his prime (and Mom's armchair).
Blankie November 6th, 2016: Toby of course had a favorite blankie, but it gave him a lot of trouble …
Smokies At the end of July 2017 we took the now-mature Toby with us on a trip to Tennessee. Here he is, apparently somewhat bored, with Mom.