The kids are grown, now what?: Excerpt: On Toby's Terms

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Excerpt: On Toby's Terms

Chapter One

Oh, Toby!

You never know when your life is going to change.
“Hi, honey,” I said into my cell phone as I unlocked my
car. “I gave my presentation; it went great, and I’m on my
way home. How was your day?”
“My day was wonderful . . . until I walked into the
“Uh-oh . . .”
“The place is a total disaster.
Your dog knocked over all
four dining room chairs, the lamp in the living room, and
that little table your mom gave you.”

My dog?” I sank into the driver’s seat, clutching my cell
phone, suddenly dreading the three-hour drive from Calgary
back to Edmonton because of what I envisioned I’d
find when I got home.
“I’m at my wits’ end, Char. There’s mud and blood
I froze in the act of turning the ignition key. “Blood?”
“That darned dog climbed on the kitchen counter,
knocked over the knife block, and cut two of his feet. Then
he tracked blood all over the kitchen, the living room, the
hallways, the basement . . .”
“Is he okay?”
he okay? What about me?
I cringed at the volume of his voice. “I’m sorry, honey,”
I said, visualizing our eighty-five pound Chesapeake Bay
retriever walking across the kitchen counter, the sink, and
stove, tracking blood. “How bad are his cuts?”
“Not too bad, but I had to pin him down to get his feet
cleaned up and bandage his two front paws. He’ll live.”
Christopher didn’t sound altogether pleased at the
Under other circumstances, a vision of my normally
mild-mannered and easygoing husband chasing our dog
through the house might have been amusing. But not now.
Apart from the cut feet, which was a new twist, this was
not the first—or the second, or the third—disaster we’d
faced since bringing Toby into our home a few months earlier.
It was peculiar, because for the first few weeks after we
got him, things had been quite uneventful. But now one
incident led to another.
“There’s more,” Chris said. “He knocked the books and
candles off the coffee table and tipped the wooden table in
the foyer over so it was blocking the door. I could barely get
in. The flower planters were knocked over and so was the
water cooler, which had a full canister of water in it this
2 On Toby’s Terms
morning. Not now. Now the water’s all over our nice hardwood
floor. That damn dog tore the boot racks from the
closet wall and emptied the contents into the front
entrance. He tracked bloody footprints all over the downstairs
carpet. The house looks like a crime scene.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“It can’t? You wouldn’t recognize the kitchen or living
room. Char, when I assess all the damage caused by this
unruly, incorrigible, untrained, ill-mannered, and soon-tohave-
another-home dog . . .”
“Don’t say that. I know there have been some problems,
but Toby’s a great dog in so many ways. He’s just got a little
problem and we’ll fix it.”
little problem? You should see the phone in the
kitchen. It’s bloody, too. Maybe he was trying to call 9-1-1.”
“That’s funny, Chris!” I laughed. “Just hang on, honey.
I’ll be home soon.”

Not funny,” my dear husband replied. “I’ve had it this
time. I’m done with that dog!”
“Please, just hang on. When I get home, I’ll help you
clean up after my . . . after
our dog.”
I heard him release a deep breath. “We can’t keep living
on Toby’s terms.”
But lately we were.
Oh, Toby!

Buy Toby's Books
Toby, the Pet Therapy Dog, and His Hospital Friends
On Toby's Terms


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