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Toby – Critter Q&A

April 17, 2016

Pet Type and Name:

Toby – Pit Bull/Akita mix (Possibly…?)

Q: How did you meet him, her, them?

Right before I met my husband, he adopted Toby as a puppy. He was told Toby wouldn’t get too much bigger, but he ended up growing to about 90 pounds. How’s that for a surprise! 

Q: Do you talk to your pets? If so, what do you talk about? What do they say back?

Of course!  I ask how their day was (Toby has a sister, Lucy), what they did all day, or what they want to do that day. Before I leave for the day, I just remind them no wild parties with their friends. Or to at least clean up before we get home. (Sometimes we ask Lucy if she wants to come to work with us. Sometimes she does, and she jumps up and runs over to where her leash is hanging up. Other times, she just lays her head back down like she just wants to stay home.)

Or sometimes I ask if they want to share my meal or if they want a treat. The answer to that one is always: “Yes!  Pleeaaase!  Look how good I’m being, I’m sitting…”

When I ask, “Are you ready for bed?” there’s a beeline to the upstairs bedroom.

Q: Imagine your pet as a human? What do they do for a living? What is their personality like? 

Toby was tough on the outside, but a softie inside. He was super smart, and loved chasing and hunting animals in the backyard. He would bark into one hole of the groundhog’s tunnel to get them to come out, then run to the other side to catch them. One time, after he caught a groundhog, he used the groundhog as bait to catch a hawk who thought the groundhog was easy prey. In our smaller yard in Phoenix, you would see Toby randomly running around with a pigeon wing hanging out of his mouth. When he saw snakes, they were just an invitation to play and try to figure them out!  For as tough as he was on these occasions, he was just as intuitive, kind, and gentle. He loved playing with our friends’ kids. He would let them try to climb on him and lick their faces when they fell off.

As far as Toby being a human, I think he would have been in the FBI or something, or maybe secret service, as he was smart, and a great protector. And he’d come home to his family who knew they were loved and well taken care of. We always said he looked like one of the dogs in that famous poster of dogs smoking cigars and playing poker… so I could totally see him as a human having a guy’s poker night. We always said his theme song would be “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath. At least the first part, “I am Iron Man,” I could just hear him saying that. But then he would run away from the vacuum cleaner…

Q: Is there a life lesson that you have learned from your pet?

I feel like I’ve always been pretty much in tune with what other people are thinking or feeling, but I don’t always know what to say when I want to help or make them feel better. I’ve learned that sometimes just being there for them is helpful. Our pets can’t actually do anything to help us with our problems. Sometimes, though, it’s nice when they come over to you when they know you aren’t quite yourself, and sit on your lap or snuggle in next to you or lean on you and lick you. You do start to feel a little better. I think we can help our friends and family in ways that are simpler than we think. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture, although if that’s appropriate and in your power, go for it. Sometimes there isn’t a simple solution or some magical fix-it-all advice for what they are going through, and they just want to know that you that you are there for them. Give them a hug, sit down next to them and listen, and let them know you care. Maybe don’t sit on their lap and lick them on the face though. That would be weird. wink

Q: To you, what does it mean to be a responsible pet owner? 

I think it means taking them into your life and into your family, and doing your best to love them as much as they love you.

Q: How have your pets changed your life?

I view all animals just like they are my pets. Even the ones that might taste good.

Q: Share a local resource for pets of any type that more people should utilize.

I think more people should simply take their dogs to the park or out for a walk. It’s a bonding experience for them. Remember, you have lots of things to occupy your time and your life, they really only have you. They need you to spend time with them. Every day.

Also, I would recommend PVSEC (Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center). We had to take Toby there last summer for some tests relating to a brain tumor. They were so helpful, knowledgeable and caring. You can tell that they really care about and want to help the animals, and were understanding and patient with us as well. We had to take Lucy there last month for a melanoma tumor, and again were treated with kindness and patience. We are fortunate to have a facility like this in our area. Many people do not have one available to them. While you can probably rely on your regular vet for most things, PVSEC specializes in harder to deal with situations. At the very least, they can give you peace of mind to make the right decision for treating your furry friend, whatever that may be.

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Thank you to Miranda, from Ohl Insurance, for sharing Toby with us. 

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Would you like to tell us about your furry (or scaly, reptilian, feathery) baby? If so, email Raylene at

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