This week is the three month mark of Toby's occupation of our home and lives. Much has changed.
The back yard has an interesting variety of holes dug at random intervals. Toby is rock hunting. He loves rocks. Chews on them. Flings them. Leaves them on the porch (where I step on them if I'm not watching out). I've found a few broken rocks on his lounge. No broken teeth so far.
My hour long full-out walks in the park are now hour long start and stop and start and stop - "Toby, stop PULLING!" - and start and stop hops to the camp below our house. Toby loves walks. He turns into a sled dog, snorkeler (going for rocks in the river), ambulance going to an emergency with no care for the tether trying to guide him. I have not yet found the bottom of his pool of energy.
Toby loves the cats. He loves when they rub up against him and seems to think it's funny when they hiss, growl and scratch him when he gets out of control with his displays of affection. Toby chases the cats, no matter how much trouble he gets into when he does. He has been told he'll be given away if he hurts a cat. I'm pretty sure I mean that, but he doesn't believe me. Although he doesn't vocalize it, his face says, "You worry too much, Mom. I'd never hurt one. It's just a game we play - me and the cats."
About a month ago, he started waking up at the crack of doom again. Walt started getting up and putting him outside and going back to bed. Just as an experiment, we left him out one night. He slept through the night and has slept out every night since. He sleeps on the lounge that was a wedding present from Walt's grandma. The crate sits unused in a corner of the patio.
Morning wake up is still the best time with him. He comes in excited and lovey and we spend a long time on the floor cuddling and softly wrestling. He loves being brushed, especially if I let him chew/suck on my robe. I adore his swirls and curls and fairy tale soft fur. I admire his still angelic ears. I explore his mouth for lost baby teeth and new dog teeth and I rub his gums. I drum his Buddha belly and nuzzle the soft places of his face. My days start happy.
He's not supposed to be in our bird feeder area. Has been chased out, growled at, put in time out for being there from his first days here. Now when we look out the window and see him sitting under the feeders in the wooden wheelbarrow Walt built for me we say, "Look, isn't he cute?!" I don't really miss the Nandina he ate and he's leaving the Potentilla alone, so it seems a fair compromise. Besides, the birds aren't complaining, and the cats can't hunt them if Toby's in the middle of the area.
Hundreds of dollars worth of toys are strewn everywhere - outside, upstairs, in his room. His toy of choice is always, without exception, whatever Costco box is available. The big chunky ones that once held Craisins or frozen chicken breasts or Tillamook cheese. He growls at them, attacks them, chews them into smaller chunks which he devours. He drags them through the kitchen and dining room, trophies of pride and canine triumph. His second favorite toy is whatever chunk of wood he can find in the back yard. Some days the patio looks like a sawmill floor.
When I come home at the end of the day, the first thing I look for as I pull into the driveway is his sweet, happy, eager face peeking through the fence. He waits semi-patiently for me to change, then turns himself inside out when I go to him on the patio. That joy is hot oil rubbed onto sore muscles by gifted hands.
I don't remember being taken over quite in the same way with our other dogs. I thought I had more control, was more in charge, had more influence. I'm not entirely sure if Toby's that much different, or if it's me. I am sure that pleasure is the goal. Not utter obedience. Toby's happy with that.