I took this picture of my family over two years ago, just after they finished playing volleyball. My husband Larry is holding our daughter Mandy’s dog, Kess, and, Mandy (second from the right) is holding Larry’s dog, Toby. Toby and Kess are brother and sister, now eleven years old. Our younger daughter, Melanie, is holding her dog, Chloe, and Mandy’s husband, Jon, far right, is holding his dog, Rocko. Melanie has since married Dylan, the tall fellow in the back. Dylan and I are the only ones who don’t have our own dogs.
More than two weeks ago, I let Toby out to relieve himself as I always have. When he hadn’t come back after an hour, I phoned Larry. He came home and called and whistled for Toby, but he never came. Later, Larry scoured the woods and roads around our house, stopped and talked to the neighbors, called the humane society, and let me put Toby’s picture up in several places on Facebook. We have concluded that either someone picked him up, or he went off to die. He had kidney stones, and we knew that eventually his condition would deteriorate and we would have to have him put to sleep.
We keep calling him and looking for him, but we have accepted that he’s not coming back. We miss him. I still check his water and food dishes. Larry still listens for Toby’s excited barking when he comes home. Both of us are careful about where we step when we get up from our computers. We are used to watching out for Toby, and he always lay beside us, sometimes right on our feet.
I want Larry to have another dog, but he isn’t agreeing to the idea, so Saturday, I told him I want a dog. I’d like another Yorkie Poo or a Maltese like Chloe.
One day, I want to write a series of books about those four dogs, but until then, I think I’ll just write him into the story I’m now working on – Understanding Elizabeth.
Sometimes you don’t miss what you have until it’s gone.