Toby was a large shepherd collie cross who had perfected looking innocent while doing many things he should not. At seven years of age, he had come to us from a local animal shelter where he was a known recidivist.
He had been surrendered from his original home for reasons unknown and had lasted only a few days at his second. A violent encounter with a peacock saw him return to his cage, from which he promptly escaped.

The day the Carreras kids walked in was his lucky day. They found out that the big dog loved little as much as a hug, and four kids who admired him. Tobey’s record said he loved cats, having been raised by one. It also mentioned that he should never be allowed near a peacock. So he came home to get paraded in front of our black cat Smidgen, who decided that he’d do. No barking, no lunging, just a big doggy smile, a mutual nose sniffing, and he was home.

Over the following weeks, we discovered that he was a masterful food thief. A bagel was in your hand one second and the dog’s stomach almost by teleportation in the next. Escape artist? You bet! Toby discovered a lovely lady elkhound down the block who became his inamorata. He could shimmy that large frame through minor cracks in a fence, and latches were no challenge to his skills. After visiting his girlfriend, Toby would bark loudly at the front door to be allowed in.

Like many dogs, he reveled in going on trips. However, one day, we were at a local farm market that also had an attached zoo. He took great interest in the sheep, looked penetratingly at the bison, and then went berserk when the peacock came around. It took three of us to get him back in that car. The peacock decided to investigate which further upset Toby. Finally, we got asked to leave.

Toby lived to the ripe old age of fifteen years, helped the family raise a pair of kittens, supervised the garden, and terrorized neighborhood rodents. But it was his “secret” trips to be with his girlfriend always made us laugh the most. His barking to be let in the front door signaled he had pulled another one over on the humans.

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