Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Yesterday, I lost one of my oldest and dearest friends. She was a cockapoo named Toby, and she was the greatest dog in the world.

My family and I brought home a tiny ball of white fur when I was 14. Initially obtained to teach my then-six-year-old sister responsibility, Toby quickly became a member of our family. From the very beginning, we teasingly referred to her as "Princess," because it was clear that she ruled our household. (To be fair, her majesty was not entirely to blame, as we all constantly told her what a "pretty dog" she was. An inflated ego was to be expected.)

My great-grandmother, Nanny, was living with us at the time. (Nanny lived with us for most of my young life, until she passed away the summer before I went to high school.) Nanny loved the name Toby, for anything or anyone. If she had had it her way, all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren would have bore that name. She settled for a dog instead. As it turned out, it was the perfect name, and a beautiful way to keep her memory alive.

This raccoon-eyed dog was such a part of my family's everyday life for 10 years. Toby came with us on every vacation, anticipated every holiday that involved unwrapping presents, and was witness to the many changes that a decade brings. She watched my sister and I grow up, saw my parents' hair turn a touch more gray, and was there for each of us through it all. Her fur caught our tears, and her big black eyes told us she understood.

When I went away to college, I suffered from serious pet-withdrawal. On the weekends that I came home, Toby would be the first to greet me. My mom or dad would hear my car, open our front door, and Toby would come running out. She was always so happy to see me, and had an odd way of turning her body to show me her face and her wagging tail at the same time. It was her way of saying, "I'm glad you're home, but also, look how cute I am." 

The last two weekends, I was fortunate enough to be able to make the drive from Grand Rapids to my parents' house to see Toby a few more times. She was obviously struggling, and her once bright eyes showed signs of pain. Toby was a shadow of who she once was, trapped in a body that was failing her too soon.

Toby's health had been steadily declining for a few weeks, but the past few days it was becoming more and more obvious that she just wasn't going to get well. Damn cancer. Somehow, I knew that she was gone hours before I took my dad's phone call. The weather has been beautiful here in recent weeks, except for yesterday. It was chilly, cloudy, and drizzling. That's how I knew. It was similar weather when we brought Toby home, so it was only fitting that the same would usher her out of this life. It was as though nature was mourning with us.

I saw Toby for what would be the final time last Saturday. It was a sunny, unseasonably warm day. Kyle and I pulled up to my parents' house in my car. So much has changed in 10 years; but the things that matter, the family who loves me, has always held constant. On that final day, my dad opened the door and out came Toby, wagging her tail and welcoming us home. 

Breath easy now, Pretty Dog. <3

All photos courtesy of my sister, Svet.


  1. Oh man, I'm crying for you right now. THe loss of a pet is so terrible. They are always and will always be our little angels. I'm so sorry for your loss. Rest peacefully sweet Toby.

    1. Thanks for your sweet words, Kristina.

  2. oh molly, i am so very very sorry. this brought tears to my eyes and made me hug my pups a little tighter. i am thinking of you.

  3. Thanks, Camille. It's been tough, but we're getting through it. My cairn terrier Henson is helping a lot.

  4. Oh man, what a tearjerker :( I'm so sorry you lost your precious pup. Sending you my love <3