There is a wet warm nose nuzzling my face and I start to smile. I wasn’t sure what time it was, but I knew it wasn’t very early. When you go to bed at 5 a.m. in the morning, sleeping is a little off. I rolled over from my back to my side and looked up towards the other end of the couch, and there he was wagging his bushy black tail.
Toby was doing his best to explain to me that he needed something, and his high pitched but quiet yipping sounds were clearly understood by me. “Daddy, I need to go outside, right away!”. “Okay buddy, let’s go,” I said as I rolled off the couch and headed for the door. I opened the door to the stairs that led down to the yard, and Toby hustled down to the bottom and looked up at me wagging his tail as always.
When I opened what was the front door to my apartment, the warm summer heat hit my face like when you open the door to a sauna. I could hear the katydids singing and the birds chirping, and I figured it was probably around 11:30 a.m. in the morning by now. It was July in Parkman, and Toby ran out the door and then stopped about 20 feet into the driveway and looked back at me as if to say “Hurry up Dad, I have to go!”
I was still in my corduroy pajamas and t shirt and I sleepily stumbled towards the side yard. Toby bounced down the hill and found an appropriate tree to mark off and when he was done, he came back and lay down next to me. I had found a soft spot to sit down, and after a few minutes I lay down and closed my eyes and let the sun soak into my face and outstretched arms.
Just a few short weeks before, my life had changed dramatically overnight. My best friend died, my ex wife and I split up, and my business had shut down. I didn’t have much left in life when that happened, but by a stroke of luck, my ex couldn’t take any pets where she was moving to, so Toby went with me; and I am so thankful that he did.
Toby and I spent our days lounging in the sun, going to Nelson Ledges, and riding around in my blue Buick Regal to the laundromat, the grocery store, and the gas station. Even though parts of that summer were some of my darkest times, my times with Toby were some of the most blissful moments in my life.
The best thing about finding a forever friend in a dog is that they are the world’s greatest listeners. I think Toby has listened to me complain more than anyone else in my life, but the good news for me is that he never stops listening. Those long summer days we spent together started in the late mornings, and ended back on the couch where we would watch movie after movie until the early morning came.
After sitting and escaping reality with my furry friend, I would stretch out on my back and Toby would scoot over on his belly and lay his head on my shoulder right next to my face. I think he knew that I needed someone to rely on, someone to talk to, and someone to stay by my side when everyone else had disappeared.
When Toby chose me that day at Rescue Village, he forever changed my life for the better. Have you found a forever friend that helped you make it through a tough time? Share your story in the comments below.