My Original Roommate is named Toby. But as a rule, Mom tacks on a bunch of sounds to everyone’s name, so depending on the day he is called Toby, Tobaroo, Toberoo, Toby Roo, or Toby-Baroo, even sometimes Roo Dee Doo Dee Doo.
Toby came to our house on a fairly chilly day – October 26, 2012 – to be exact. That morning when Mom left the house, she said, “Tilly, I’m going to get you a foster friend.” She was gone a pretty long time, and this dog she brought home was not in the best shape when he arrived.
Mom pulled up to the drive gate of the fence with the car, and when she let me out of the house and into the yard, she said, “Tilly, I brought you a friend. I hope he’ll be your BEST FRIEND. But he needs some work, and this will be a project for you and I together.” I was so excited, I couldn’t believe it! After 6 years of being an only dog (and Mom and I went everywhere together), we had moved to a bigger house and now had a HUGE yard with a very HUGE fenced area, with more room outside of the fence for fruit trees, berries and a garden. Mom figured it was time to expand by adding more souls with four legs, and she dreamed up a “project” for her and I to team up on.
She told me to STAY on the deck, so I did. I sat very still to show her I understood. She lifted this pup from inside the car and carried him through the open gate into the fence. She put him down in the yard, and for a split second, I saw a flash of a pup with the most fur I have ever seen. Immediately he scurried into a pile of leaves and buried his head in them, shaking. Was this a DOG? Are you kidding me?
Mom looked at me. I looked back: WHAT IN THE HECK IS THIS?
“Come on, Till. Let’s go see if we can snap Toby out of his fear.” Together we walked slowly down the small hill to the shaking leaf pile and tried to cajole him into feeling safe. I sniffed, and snorted, pawed at him, tried to get his attention so he could see I was not a threat. I danced around him, speaking, play bowing, yelping, barking, trying to get him to play. But all we saw was a shivering leaf pile.
Once Mom saw that my talents as a buffer dog were not having any effect, she went inside and got a bowl of water and a bowl of food. She brought a ball back with her, and I thought: “BRILLIANT, Mom! What dog can resist a ball!” To my surprise, Mom picked that pup out of the leaves and laid him up against the house on the deck, close to the back door! The food and water bowls were not far from him. Then she said, “Come on, Tilly, let’s play and show October how to do it right!”
Just between you and me, I’m not the biggest fan of balls. They are SO REPETITIVE. Throw/fetch/bring back, throw/fetch/bring back. After about three tries, I am OVER IT. But, Mom wanted me to play with her, so I did. And when we walked WAY out into the yard far enough that Toby could see us from the deck, I totally understood. Mom wanted to show Toby that we were OK – that human and dog co-existed peacefully and even played together! So, I played ball (throw/fetch/bring back) at least five times before I just couldn’t stand it anymore, then Mom got the rope. Rope is my favorite because tug of war is my jam!! My jaws are amazingly strong and I pride myself on my tenacity. So, Mom usually wins tug only because I let her.
Toby was interested in seeing us play, but it was NOT budging him out of his shell. Mom came up to the edge of the deck and tried to call him over, and he just looked away from her. He hadn’t touched his food, or his water. In fact, he hadn’t moved an inch. He was still wedged against the house on the deck, like he was trying to blend in and disappear. But it was getting dark. And in the fall, when it gets dark, it usually means cold as well. So, Mom brought me in the house and told me to go get on the couch. Then she turned on the water in the bathtub, got a bunch of towels, and went outside for the fuzzy shivering pup.
Toby’s story is continued in Toby Roo, Part Two