Toby, a scruffy, but loving dog and his owner, an elderly woman named Mrs. Richardson have been inseparable since Mrs. Richardson adopted him. But what will happen to Toby when Mrs. Richardson passes away?
(By: Sarah Myles)
Mrs. Richardson was an elderly woman who lived by herself for over twenty years now. Her husband, Mr. Richardson passed away long ago and their children were grown up with families of their own. Mrs. Richardson wasn’t lonely, however. She had all the company she needed: a dog named Toby. Toby wasn’t a very large dog, and he was certainly no pedigree, but Mrs. Richardson loved him all the same. He was about seven years old now and “getting old like me” as she would say to him. His fur was mostly black, but his face was white except for the brown spot which circled his left eye. She adopted him when he was just a baby. Her neighbors’ dog unexpectedly had puppies and instead of letting Toby get sent to the pound, she took him.
Every morning Toby would wake up at the foot of Mrs. Richardson’s bed. He would perch his front paws on the edge of her mattress and lick her face until she finally woke up to let him outside. For breakfast they would have scrambled eggs, and in the afternoon they would watch Maury together in the living room. Toby would always look at her funny when she would talk to the television screen. Mrs. Richardson used to take Toby for daily walks, but due to aging she found herself unable to do a lot of things that required walking. Toby was just as happy to play in the backyard though. He chased whatever rabbits ran by that he was never able to catch. After his backyard adventures, Toby would come inside and have some wet food for dinner, then he would curl up into a little ball and fall asleep at the foot of Mrs. Richardson’s bed.
One morning Toby awoke to a silent bedroom. It was more silent than it usually was. Dogs seem to have this sixth sense. They always know when something is wrong and Toby could sense something. He got up and perched is white paws on the edge of Mrs. Richardson’s mattress just like he did every morning. When he licked her cheek to wake her up it was unnaturally cold. For hours Toby stood there whining and licking her, but Mrs. Richardson wasn’t waking up. Toby was unsure what to make of this so he just sat down next to her bed and waited.
Toby waited all day for her to wake up and let him outside and feed him and pet him like she always did. That night he laid next to her bed and slept. The next morning he tried to wake her up again, but there was no response. Then, there was a break in the seemingly endless silence. There was a knock at the door. Toby rushed to the door, scratching and barking at it. He was always so excited when a visitor came since it was so rarely that anyone visited. Mrs. Richardson never came to answer the door though and eventually the visitor left. Toby returned to his master’s bedside and continued to wait.
Late that afternoon there was another knock at the door. This time the visitor let themselves in. Naturally, Toby rushed to greet them. In the doorway stood a tall man in a dark blue uniform. He was a police officer. Toby ran up to him and jumped on him, licking his hands and any other part of him he could get his tongue on. The man pat Toby on the head and walked through the house. No one ever came into the house unless Mrs. Richardson let them in. Toby was confused, but he followed the man into every room he entered. It wasn’t long before the officer found Mrs. Richardson. He walked over to her and pressed his fingers to her wrist trying to find a pulse. In his walkie-talkie he calmly said, “I’m going to need an ambulance. There’s an elderly woman with no pulse in the bedroom.” Toby couldn’t understand what the man was saying since dogs don’t speak English, but Toby knew something bad was happening. The man knelt down in front of Toby and gave him a short pet on the head.
Shortly after an ambulance arrived. The paramedics put Mrs. Richardson on a stretcher and carried her out. Toby followed them barking in protest. He wanted to know where they were taking his best friend, and more importantly he wanted to go with her. The police officer restrained Toby. The man sat in the house with him and waited for the local animal shelter to come get him.
A woman arrived and put a collar around Toby’s neck. She assured him, “We’re going for a ride. We’re going take good care of you.” Toby tilted his head. He wasn’t understanding a word this woman was saying to him, but he cooperated anyway. He was confused and visibly sad that his master was taken away. The woman turned to the officer,
“The family was contacted?”
“We called her sons. Neither of them want the dog.”
She hooked a leash onto Toby’s collar and lead him outside to a van. Toby climbed into a cage in the back of the van. After a very uncomfortable car ride, they arrived at the shelter. Countless dogs barked at Toby as the woman lead him to his own cage. Toby was scared and didn’t know what was going on. Once he arrived at his pen he cowered in the back corner. A couple workers walked past. The one noted that Toby was seven years old.
“He’s considered old. Most people want to adopt puppies. Usually the older dogs stay here for months until they get adopted, or they don’t get adopted at all, and end up euthanized.”
Both the workers gazed at Toby with a sadness in there eyes, but much like the other people Toby would meet during his stay at shelter, they eventually walked on past.