December 2013: My wife Jane and I have been making our own Christmas cards ever since we were first married. Although some years it’s a struggle to come up with a good idea for it, this year we decided very early on that it had to be about Toby. He wasn’t that excited about the concept, but after scores of treats and takes, he sat down in the right spot, showed us his best “Stay,” and with Jane holding a treat over my head, I took this photo.
As the best thing to happen in our lives this year, Toby also got the top spot in our Christmas letter. “A sweet little two-year-old rat terrier picked up as a stray,” I wrote, “Toby loves food, chasing squirrels (the closest thing he can find around here to rats), and now us. Jane and I are getting a lot of good exercise walking him, and we’re looking at the world with new eyes.”
May 7, 2013: A couple of weeks ago my wife and I adopted a little rescue dog named Toby. As you may remember, we lost Charlie, our beloved cat and VP for Naps, to diabetes last fall. (Thank you, friends, for all your sympathy notes. They’ve been very comforting.) Although nobody could ever take Charlie’s place in our hearts, as spring approached Jane and I felt ready to start looking for another pet.
We’d never had a dog before, but our two grown sons have small dogs that we love and — as every parent knows — kids lead you into all sorts of joyful new adventures. We visited our local humane society, searched Petfinder.com, and a few weeks later we met Toby. He’d been picked up as a stray, adopted by a young couple, and then returned to the pound when they discovered they couldn’t leave him home alone all day. Then he got lucky when Lori of Top Dog Animal Rescue Group took him into her home. After a month with Lori and her family he was ready to find a new home — and that’s when we got lucky.
Toby is a rat terrier, and though that may sound alarming, rat terriers make great family pets. They’re smart, energetic but not hyper, and as Jane and I can attest, they love to cuddle on the couch with their humans. They’re historic, too! Teddy Roosevelt’s pet rat terrier helped rid the White House of rats in the early 1900s, and up through the 1930s they were a popular dog on farms. Toby is about a year and a half old, weighs a healthy 22 pounds, and is a very sweet, friendly dog who’s feeling more secure with us every day. Jane and I are getting advice from every dog-owner we know, watching re-runs of The Dog Whisperer, and doing our best to be good pack leaders for him — and we couldn’t be happier.