Sunday, September 8, 2013



My dog* is no thoroughbred, he’s a mutt, but he’s still amazing. Toby is a two-year-old cross between a Jack Russell Terrier and a Mountain Cur. Most people know what a Jack Russell is, constant motion combined with unlimited curiosity, but few people have heard of the Missouri bred Mountain Cur. They are stocky, slim and muscular with a strong, wide head and short, high set ears that flop to and fro when they run. When you look at them head on, they look as though they are grinning from ear to ear.

Toby, the amazing dog

We have all heard stories of amazing dogs - a German Shepherd who rescues his master from a burning house, a St. Bernard who brings brandy to a stranded hiker in the Alps, a Huskie who, along with his teammates, brings needed medicine to an outpost in the far reaches of Alaska, a Labrador Retriever who pulls a child from the pool, and so on. 

"Jezz-us," Toby tops them all.

The combination of terrier and cur in Toby’s case has produced an extraordinary result. On a walk in the woods, Toby is capable of finding and carrying for miles a stick five times bigger than Toby’s compact 45 pound body. The only problem is that the stick is often ten feet wide. As Toby runs through the trees on the trail, he has to turn the long stick this way and that to weave through the openings.

When we come across a logjam on a stream, Toby will inevitably find the needle in a haystack. He pokes here and there until among all the debris he comes up with an old worn tennis ball that he then brings proudly back to me.

Now here is the most amazing feat that Toby is capable of. We go to a nearby lake to swim. Toby perks up as we get close to the parking lot. He knows where we are at and he can hardly contain his excitement. His bobbed tail, he gets it from his Mountain Cur side of the family, beats like the wings of a hummingbird, his head stretches into the windshield as he can hardly contain his excitement. We park the car, I open my door, and Toby shoots around my backside, and out the door. "Liketidy split," he hurls himself into the clear, cool lake. The fish scatter. The ducks and the geese, forewarned, sail out to sea and safety.

I know you may find this hard to believe, but it is true.

Toby’s fore and hind paws are working the water so fast, that he literally is walking on water. (If we had named him Evan instead of Toby, then his last name would be Rude.) I think it is the extra force of the tail that gets him airborne. The fishermen on the shore are a little rattled that he stirring the water up so. The fish, which had been nibbling at the fishermen’s bait, are now headed for the deep to avoid this miniature Moby Dick. The kids on the shore all point to their parents and say just one word, “Look!” Eventually, Toby tires of walking on water and succumbs to normal swimming. But normal swimming for him is acting like a seal, dipping his head in the water trying to catch minnows, and barking like a seal trying to bring the fish to the surface.

I know you might think this a tall tale, but it’s true. Just come to the lake and Toby will be glad to show you.

*My daughter, if she reads this, will tell you that Toby is her dog. I say dogs don’t belong to people, people belong to dogs.

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