The mysterious disappearance of Toby


Toby and Mr. G

Mister G lived alone for many years in his big rundown house in my neighbourhood. His was an entrepreneurial spirit. Garbage pick up days provided him with weekly opportunities to fill his big old truck with his neighbours’ scrap and other ‘re-cyclables’. A feral cat and many litters of her kittens called the crawlspace under his veranda home. Mr. G’s one sidekick, a Miniature Poodle, Toby, followed him everywhere. This is what innocent, loyal dogs do, whether they’re treated well or not.

Eventually both Mr. G and Toby began to show their age and then Mr. G was diagnosed with liver cancer. Toby’s condition had already been going downhill; his eyes were caked and sticky and his fur so matted no hand could pass through. Several concerned neighbours urged Mr. G to take Toby to the veterinarian, but Mr. G was in denial and maybe a little thrifty.

One day Toby disappeared. Mr. G was sure he’d been kidnapped and shipped to an experimental lab. He was upset and furious that somebody had picked up his dog from his front porch.

Several months went by.  One afternoon I found myself in the home of a woman who lived several streets away who wanted me to look at something unrelated in her house.  As she was showing me around, in every room I saw one, two, or sometimes three animals, both cats and dogs, in various stages of twilight living.  There was no unpleasant odor, they were all clean and looked well fed, all were very old, curled up in individual dog or cat beds.  I’d walked in to an old folks home for pets!  And suddenly, there before me, lay Toby.  He was cleaned up, his eye condition medicated, and no more mats.  He lay content in his own little bed and if he’d been a cat he would have purred.

What did I do?  Did I blow the whistle?  Did I confront the ‘dognapper’? Did I tell Mister G?  I did not.  Mr. G was in another world by then. I kept my discovery to myself and let sleeping dogs lie.

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