update, December 2004

It is a miracle....that's all I can say. We were beginning to suspect that our Toby was destined to be the Eskies Online Mascot Until Hell Freezes Over. He had been the Guest-in-Residence at Diane Gonzalez's home in New Jersey since mid July...when he was rescued by Diane one day before he was scheduled to bite the dust. Although Toby was a little crabby at first, he warmed up to the entire Gonzalez family. Toby successfully trained Willie Gonzalez to pet him...while Willie slept! Sleep-petting, I believe it is called.

Toby has an unusual voice...

And so, it went for months. And, then while in foster care, Toby threw us a curve when his toenail up and died, requiring a rush to the Vet. Diane grew very attached to her Toby....even though she euphemistically described him as a "handful." Often, I heard from Diane via cell phone when she was walking Toby, and I had to ask...."what the hell is that noise?" Not unlike a drunken pig squeal, our Toby could croon a tune. Almost capable of speech, we thought.

And, try as we might, we could not find the right home for Toby. We were searching for some very seasoned and patient dog owners. Our webmaster, Ann, was extraordinarily creative in posting Toby's profile in various places, and finally we got a lead from an obsure site that linked to ours. I was literally on my way out the door to drive to Diane's in New Jersey--on a rescue errand to bring our Dinah to her new home. I jumped online for a second to look something up and there it was.....a simple email entitled TOBY. I happened to be on the phone with Diane, and I said..."well, I better read this."

Diane...and Willie...grew very attached to Toby.

It was a simple, concise inquiry into our boy from Rusty Monroe, who had just lost his White German Shepherd in January. When we called Rusty, we were overwhelmed. We could not have imagined a more perfect situation for this lovable, but challenging, Eskie-Shepherd boy. Rusty trains dogs and seems to get a special thrill out of turning around the...difficult ones. And, he rehabilitates 1,000 pound horses with behavior quirks. Well, I gotta say, if he can handle a disgruntled 1,000 pound horse, he should be able to handle a 30 pound Toby.

Of course, when we are handed a miracle on a silver platter, it doesn't come easy. Rusty lives in upstate New York -- which is not exactly arround the corner from Philly or Boston. So, I decided to fold this important errand into our weekend schedule. I dropped off Dinah at Diane's, picked up two rescue Eskies in New York, and then made the three hour trek to Rusty's. Upon arrival....Miss Irma La Deuce made an unsanctioned beeline for the woods, so that my introduction to Rusty and Jody, was an abrupt shreik at Irma as she took off. The old joke about the Angels From God is that "they make a spectacle of the breed," but, the new joke about Irma La Deuce is that "she makes a spectacle out of me."

Rusty helped me unload all 7 dogs into his yard -- and luckily it began to rain so that all the white dogs were nicely grass stained when they were invited into Rusty and Jody's all-white carpeted sunroom...with pastel upholstered furniture. I expected Jody to faint, but instead, she produced Ms. Field's cookies and coffee -- even after Toby greeted her with a nip on the hand. That is the sign of a great adopter. The introduction was slow, and Rusty made sure to give Toby alot of space. By the time I left, Toby was acting as if he owned the joint, and I drove off into the downpour with one less dog, and one less headlight. On the way home, Diane called in tears....and I said straightaway..."O No what happened? She said, "Rusty called....he said Toby is one of the greatest dogs he has ever had, and that he has already taught Toby how to heal on on lead and to make use of the doggie doors." She had to put Rusty on speaker phone so that her husband, Willie, could hear the good news, too. We are so thrilled for the home that Toby has, and so grateful to Rusty and Jody for opening their hearts to this special boy.

Here are our fist updates from Rusty:


Good news! This weekend Toby made TREMENDOUS strides. He's now heeling beautifully . . . with the leash totally slack. I think Sassy (one of our 2 cats) is influencing him, since, if you'll recall, she goes with us on walks and heels without a lead. Guess you might say that she's "leading" by example. Toby seems to think, "If a cat can do this, I certainly can."

Toby's also come to understand and accept that none of us can do exactly as we please when we please and that he doesn't have the responsibility of being the Alpha, with all that that entails in a dog's mind, e.g. being the guardian of EVERYTHING, having to constantly be on the look out for anyone who might be threat, always leading, etc.. All he has to do (for right now) is stop doing what he's doing when he's told "No", sit, stay and lie down when he's told and come when he's called. He's learning that if he does just that much his Pop will spoil the hell out of him. He's also learned that it's more fun when he doesn't have to carry the burden of being the Alpha. He's experiencing for the first time just how much fun life really can be.

The acid test of his improvement occurred yesterday when the garage door was left open and he "headed out". Even a couple of days ago it would have been an hour's job to get him back, since he's had a propensity when he got out to simply run - almost blindly and without thought for direction, purpose or his own safety. Well, yesterday he got out, but as soon as I said, "Toby, come here" (I didn't even have to raise my voice) he turned right around and came back and sat at my side. He's learning how to be a Big Boy and is about to start enjoying all that comes with being a Big Boy who can be trusted.

As you probably know, dogs who have a "job", or at least something that's perceived as a job, are much happier, as it gives them a purpose, a specific role in the pack and an opportunity for praise. Well, Toby also now has a job. He comes to the office with me every day and has taken it upon himself to be my guardian. He's learning that guardian doesn't mean growling and snarling, but rather to simply let me know when anyone comes to my door as well as to be my "shadow" - the latter being a self-imposed responsibility that I haven't discouraged for 2 reasons: 1) I love it; and 2) it's enables us to truly bond.

Gotta go. Gotta get back to work so I can keep Toby in the "style" to which he's quickly becoming accustomed - I do spoil him in a materialistic sense, but he's earned it. All he has to do is learn to do what he's told, when he's told - 100% of the time, and "the world will be his oyster."

By the way, we're thinking of getting him "his own" puppy, another rescue about 6 - 8 months old so it's big enough to deal with the expected initial "jealousy". Once he's over the initial jealousy he'll really like having another dog to play with whenever he wants.

Write back when you get a chance and let's hope others you've rescued turn out as well as Toby.



Toby had a buddy here that he loved to play with - her name is Kia and she was adopted near by to me. He did miss her when she went in to be spayed. so another dog should not be a problem. Thanks for the wonderful updates and your patience with our troubled boy. We really miss him but I know he's exactly where he needs to be and is far happy with you than he could ever be with us. Its a dream come true or a miracle - I can't decide!!


Diane and Toby


You’re so kind, but don’t give me more credit than I’m due. It’s simply that I understand most “canine” (as in language) and try to empathize with him vis-à-vis what is he feeling and why is he feeling this way, whether it’s a good feeling or a “bad” feeling, i.e. scared, impish (as in “Now that I know my Mom and Pop and how to push their buttons, I think I’ll get a rise out of them”, or sometimes it’s just for the hell of it to see the reaction he gets as in testing the boundaries), sad, lonely, insecure, loving, happy, or just too excited to hold it in. Since he can’t speak “human”, it’s up to me to understand his language (often very subtle physical reactions like looking away for a moment, a blink of his eyes, his posture and stance, etc.) and to speak to him in his language. Thus, much of my teaching is done using the same physical language which most people would translate as demeanor (body language) or gestures, but which involves much more than general demeanor or large gestures, including many subtle gestures and a lot of different facial expressions.

For example, a frown connotes displeasure or a reprimand if it’s done looking directly into the dog’s eyes . . . so people should be careful frowning around a dog unless they mean to correct it. Otherwise imagine how confused the dog is, since it doesn’t know what it’s doing wrong. It should also be a relatively subtle frown. Smiles are also an expression of displeasure if the teeth show. It’s akin to growling. Yawns are normally an expression of irritation of some kind, not of being bored or tired. In other words, we don’t have to “shout” at them (figuratively speaking). They’re “hearing” is very sensitive and they pick up on the subtlest of expressions and gestures. It’s just that most people don’t know that they’re communicating with them at the time. I’ve come to believe that most dogs must believe that people are either deaf or very hard of hearing. What a relief it must be to find someone with whom they can actually communicate!



Update, April 6th, 2004


You’d never guess where Toby is headed with his training. I’ve started him on Agility Training (primarily to build his self-confidence). Once he’s got that down reasonably well, I’m going to teach him to be an all-around service dog for Jody to be her eyes, ears and hands. He absolutely loves to please now. IN fact, he’s hilarious when we’re in a car. He had a real problem initially as regards riding in the car and barking at everything and anything. I got him to stop by giving him a treat when he did not bark. Now, because of his rewards, he spends his time in the car looking for people and dogs NOT to bark at.

He has become totally and completely trustworthy off lead and I can go anywhere with him, simply stop and open the door for him to go to the bathroom and he gets right back in . . . even in the busiest situations you can imagine.

He simply will not leave me alone and comes to work with me and stays under my desk . . . unless he perceives someone is “threatening” me, i.e. with their tone of voice, in which case he morphs into a 120 pound dog in a 35 pound body . . . with a mouthful of teeth you don’t want to “meet”.

He’s wonderful with all my grandchildren, even the baby. This was a pleasant surprise, since he didn’t even know about babies. He’s still not thrilled about teenagers and I assume he had one or more bad experiences with them. He won’t bite them, but he scares the bejeebers out of ‘em with this “vocalizations” and demeanor. He also now pulls my golf cart and is the hit of the club. Everyone knows and loves Toby and asks for him if he’s not with me.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is, thanks for bringing him into my life. He’s turning out to be everything I knew he could and then some.


August 2004

Rusty has sent us two new pictures of Toby enjoying the "grounds" of his New York home. Toby seems to fit perfectly into the landscape design.

December 2004


If you'll recall, I told you that Toby was very bright and that all we needed to do was get rid of those things that made him what he was. Well, as you can see from one of the attached photos, he's now a "Service Dog" for Jody, who is now confined to a wheelchair. The others are just some neat photos (he loves to go for long walks in the woods). I was hoping you might be able to post a photo or 2 on his web site.

Brag Time: When we had him in Boston for Thanksgiving, we took him in his first restaurants and in both instances people came up to us and said how they wished their children we as well behaved as our dog. He just came back from his first reeeaaallly long trip (2,000 mile round trip to Louisville, Kentucky for Christmas). He was a model of good behavior everywhere. Just so you know, Toby could not have a home or family where he would be loved more. He's everything I knew (and hoped) he could be . . . and lots more.

Toby's favorite is chasing squirrels, except when he's working. He takes his work very seriously and knows as soon as his Service Dog jacket goes on that it's work time and he gets a very serious, no-nonsense demeanor about him. He's also an extremely good watchdog and he's learned to sound aggressive, but not actually be aggressive (not an easy thing for a dog to learn the difference).

Rusty Monroe