April 02, 2008
What can I say?
Although I had a couple of dogs growing up -- a beagle named Snoopy (how original) and a West Highland White named, um, Bella -- they never really felt like they were my dogs. Perhaps this was because I was too young to truly be involved in their care and feeding. Or maybe because I had nothing to do with choosing them to be a part of our family (I was still grateful, believe me).
With Toast I learned what it was like to truly bond with a dog for the first time in my life. We got her when she was only six weeks old -- she was a second anniversary gift to my wife and she makes a great case for buying gifts that can be shared. We had our choice between four females but we both knew right away that Toast was the one. Still, we went through the motions of giving her and the other pups the Puppy Aptitude Test, just to make sure. And, of course, we cheated. I think we gave her a 5 for "Restraint" (no struggle) when she was more like a 2 or a 3 (some struggling). That should have been our first clue that Toast would be a feisty and sometimes hard to manage puppy (our second clue should have been the fact that Toast's father was not allowed inside the house and instead ran and barked like a madman inside a chain-linked fence; our third clue should have been that the breeder's nieces and nephews had named her "Rockelle" because she liked to eat rocks).
So, having fudged the results, we took Toast to what would become her weekend home by the shore (it was close to the breeder's house). As you can see by the first picture above, our yard is all rocks. Man we really thought that one out. After awhile, she gave up on the rocks and found even better prey: crab shells discarded by seagulls. She became quite obsessed with crab to the point where we ultimately dubbed our yard "Crab-land." This would be just one of her many obsessions throughout her (I'd like to think) extremely happy life.
Her second home was Hell's Kitchen New York where she discovered her next obsession: Rottweilers. She became best friends with the giant Rottweiler in our building as well as a brother and sister team who lived in the neighborhood. It was quite a sight to see her play hard with the brother and sister who would pin her to the ground and bear those great, big teeth. We knew it was just play. Strangers passing by would get completely freaked out. She also was good friends with a Pit Bull. She had no time for fluffy dogs.
During the first year, Toast also developed a fondness/obsession for catching and chasing tennis balls. She was a natural Retriever and could chase and bring back a ball until the cows came home. We were fortunate to have an enclosed handball court across the street from us, perfect for games of fetch in the city. At our weekend home, Toast more or less forced us to keep the back, sliding door open, no matter the temperature. There, with the open door between her on our deck and my wife and I in the living room, Toast would wait for us to throw her ball after she ceremoniously dropped it by our feet and ran back out to the deck. This she never tired of and continued to play this game for 12 years.
After she turned one, we moved downtown to NoHo and Toast underwent a significant change. She no longer cared about other dogs. Maybe she missed her friends and thought they never could be replaced or maybe she was pissed that we moved her (she actually used to try to get me to walk her in a Northwesterly direction toward our old 'hood). But fortunately she found another obsession: People. Her personality was magnetic and she was such a beauty that she had no problem attracting admirers. I remember when she was still a puppy I once was carrying her through Bryant Park (she hadn't had all of her shots yet) and people were literally running across the park begging me to let them pet her.
Thanks to Toast's good looks and sparkling personality, my wife and I became friends with a number of other dog owners in our neighborhood (certainly it wasn't my looks or personality that started the friendships; it was either Toast or my wonderful wife). I honestly think that we might have walked around our new neighborhood for years without meeting anyone if it weren't for "the Pupper." New Yorkers have a tendency to look down while they are walking. Toast virtually guaranteed contact with strangers.
Our new 'hood also was cause for yet another obsession: Napkins and half-eaten bagels, hot dog buns, etc. One stretch on Bowery had so much sidewalk trash that my wife dubbed it "The Food Court." Had Toast been a "5" instead of a "2" or "3" we probably would have avoided a number of upset stomach incidents (trust me, you'll know you love your dog when you get up at 3 a.m. to walk her in order to avoid an indoor accident). Unfortunately, we learned that nothing could come between Toast and food. Here she is with one of her favorites:
Yep, Peanut Butter and Toast.
I also mentioned she liked napkins. She was not a finicky eater, so when there were no napkins to be found, any kind of paper would do:
We came home to that one night. We'll never know how she managed to get the basket on the bed, let alone get it to stand upright.
Strangely, for a Golden, it took her awhile to fall in love with water...
but once she did, you guessed it: Obsession.
Her love of water, especially the bay or ocean, led to two more great obsessions: Her flexi-Frisbee and her patented two-paw digging:
Oh hell, one more obsession: Red Dot. This was the name we gave to Toast's laser pointer. When we first got it, Toast would literally chase it across a room, up a wall, wherever.
We were so amused by Toast's passion for this inanimate (yet lively) red dot (I suppose she thought it was real?), that we would bring it out whenever we had a guest at our apartment. After a few months, Toast would automatically go to where we stored the laser pointer and start barking whenever we had visitors. Dogs are definitely creatures of habit.
Sadly, Toast was diagnosed with Lymphoma a few months ago. We did everything we could to treat the cancer but in the end it was too much for the girl. Words cannot express our sadness.
Her brother Wahoo seems a little disoriented and needy but he's a good boy and I think he'll adjust. Since we adopted him when he was two (and Toast was four), he has never been without her for more than an hour or so (until she got sick and spent five days in the hospital and miraculously, for a short period of time, recovered).
Wahoo was never one of Toast's obsessions. She made it clear from day one that there was room for only one Alpha dog in our household. Wahoo, ever the gentleman, ceded this position to her although he easily could have dominated her. However, they were a team, partners in crime, especially when it came to barking at the seagulls to get the hell off of their dock or barking "hello" to every, single boat that ever passed by our weekend house.
If you knew Toast, you know how special she was and how much she meant to us, our families and our friends. She will be greatly missed.
(Click to watch Toast & her brother Wahoo in action)
i live in l.a. with my 2 labradors. i visit your blog quite regularly (it was not only your commentary, but the sprinkling of toast and wahoo that kept me coming back). hershey - my luscious chocolate lab - also loves empty peanut butter jars and wadded up bits of kleenex (why do i spend so much money on holistic treats when snotty paper would suffice?). your tribute to toast brought tears to my eyes...our love affairs with our pets rarely end well, but we know that the inevitable pain is worth all the joy that our four-legged friends bring to our lives. for all the sadness that you feel, you must be certain that she did, indeed, live an extremely happy life - as evidenced by the countless happy moments and memories she gave you and your wife. thank you for sharing your love of toast with us all.
Krups, Please accept my most sincere condolences from your Madisonian (well Cambridge) amie of days of yor. I was thinking about you the last couple of days so it must be a psychic connection. Your feelings of loss transmitted. I am so sorry for your loss. We have two crazy cats-- there were three. One, the favorite (but don't tell the others) simply vanished without a trace about a year ago. We still wonder what happened to Waffle (his name, really!)and miss him enormously in spite of the strong personalities of the other 2. EAH
Damn. Loss of a good friend is never easy. I had to put a 16 year old cat down that I raised from a kitten a few years ago. It was one of the toughest things I'd ever done. I've enjoyed reading Toast stories. Your tribute is quite lovely and I'm sure she'll be missed. May you find comfort in knowing she had a great live with some pretty cool sounding humans.
My heart goes out to you, your family, and her brother. Thanks for sharing that lovely tribute to her. She was obviously a Great Soul in your lives. Hang in there.
Our german shepherd, Bodie, is now 8 1/2 years old. Losing him will be very painful. Glad we have him, don't ever want him to go. So when I read your description of life with Toast, your words resonated for me. Sorry for your loss.
thank you for sharing toast's story with us...i've got 4 goldens right now, and i've lost one before, so i can truly relate to your loss...as long as i am alive, there will be a golden by my side...i'm so sorry, she truly was beautiful...Post a Comment