The Charlie Bravo Story

The Story of Toby

Yes, this is my house. Yes, this is my bed. No, this is not my dog.

This is the neighbor’s dog Tobiads Maximus, otherwise known as Toby. He thinks that he lives here now, and we’re kind of adjusting to routinely be invaded by a scruffy little knucklehead. We have tried to remain steadfast in our defenses of the motherland, but he has this habit of proclaiming his joy by prancing around on his hind legs while waving his arms to the heavens. And I did say “arms”, because you can’t have legs with hands on the ends of them, and he does have hands, not paws. If you don’t believe me, come over and check it out sometime; he strains so hard to be picked up that he spreads his hairy little fingers in a desperate bid for attention.

How can you say “no” to that?

I have to admit that one of those most flattering things happens every time the neighbor’s dogs hear my van or bike come up the street. Big Vic heaves his massive bulk off of the porch and begins lumbering towards the Casa, and Toby comes dashing through the woods, and by the time I get off of the bike, I have a canine Welcome Wagon cavorting about my boots. I have to wonder if the neighbor’s feel any pangs of jealousy when they see their own dogs racing for the Casa, but I contend it’s not my fault. It is painfully obvious to me that I have absolutely no say in the matter, as they believe that the only reason I exist is to do their bidding; I think that they learn that from Charlie.

Then as the daylight begins to soften around the edges, the yapping and bitey-mouth activities begin to subside and it’s time for the inmates to come inside and plunder the larder. Does Toby then go home to eat? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count; he stampedes inside with the rest of the herd like he thinks he lives here.

I used to take him home, even gave them my phone number so they could call me if the wandering warrior ever needed to be called in off of furlough. Then mom started taking him home at bedtime, until the older lady got a bit huffy, wanting to know why we let him into the house at all; I’ll be danged if we’re going to be lectured for HER irresponsibility. She obviously has no clue that, when all the millenia of domestication is stripped away, a dog is essentially a wolf, and a wolf is a pack animal; if they aren’t getting the social interaction in one place, they will migrate to another. So when the aptly named “wee” hours of the morning occur and Charlie and the rest of the crew roust me from my slumbers to go stumbling groggily for the door so that they may sprinkle the vegetation, there’s Toby on the front porch. He then uses the confusion as a diversion to cover his infiltration, and before I know it, the invader is sprawled and snoring on my bed like he actually pays rent or something. He has a habit of sleeping immodestly on his back with his arms in the air, with his hairy plumbing displayed for the whole world to see, and this is the sight that often sets the tone for my whole day.

So we’re done carting him home every night, especially if the owners are so irresponsible that they just let him back out to mysteriously reappear at the Casa a short time later. Oba is NOT OK with this, convinced that her daughter and round-eyed son in law are certifiably insane; do we not have enough dogs without inviting in transients? And I have no rebuttal, as it’s painfully obvious that we have a sickness, and the only prescription is more canines: “Hello, doctor? I have a personal matter I need to discuss with you…” “uh, just take two dogs and call me in the morning.”

So maybe now you know why I get a bit agitated when the congregation automatically turns to page 143 of the hymnal and begins to sing “O You Have To Keep Him” whenever we welcome another prodigal to the fold. I would suggest a trip to the altar to repent, or at least a generous donation when the offering plate is passed.

It’s always a party at the Casa!

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