Toby's Tales
January 2001
Through the Doggie Network I had heard about how daring the French dogs were, but I really had no idea.  This was surreal, beyond my wildest dreams. I was in the Vet's office for a check up, and right there where everybody could see, there were advertisements for relationships all directed at me. It was all so Toby and a neighbor's dogblatant, I blushed.  I didn't know what to do. My folks were right there. Oh no, I hope they do see what I looking at. Weak in the knees I sunk to the floor. I was panting. I tried to look cool, but I wasn't.

While they were called to the desk, I did some quick note taking.  Can you believe this: "Looking for a friend of the same breed, for sentimental relations and more," signed Sophie.  More! Just imagine! What could that possibly mean? I was really working up a sweat thinking about that, when I read the next ad. "Looking for fun and excitement on New Year's Eve, if interested call, Fifi." Both listings even included photographs, and the girls were really cute. I haven't called.  I'm not sure I want to because I am already seeing an English dog, Korri, who lives here at the port.

What would happen if my folks found these notes? Maybe I should start the New Year right and get rid of them. What to do?  Oh là là!

I tucked the phone numbers away in a safe place, and we took the train to Paris.

It was a good diversion, because I found that I love Paris. It is a pretty city with lots of cute dogs and nice people. We went to gToby meets a woman in a barreat cafés where the waiters brought me my own bowl of water, and everyone patted me on the head.

Because it was New Year's Eve, everyone was in a party mood. We were there with our family, and while we were in Horse's Tavern, they got busy talking and kind of forgot about me. A young women across the room kept smiling at me, so I went over to say hello. She started to pet me and she said sweet things to me in French. I think she really liked me. Yes, this could be love. How do we look together?

I hated to leave Paris, I was just beginning to learn my way around. I had already found many favorite spots. I do love Paris, but the real reason that I didn't want to leave was that I knew we had to take a taxi to get to the train station. I had hoped that maybe we would just stay, and that I wouldn't have to deal with the taxi suit issue. I am after all an optimist.

The morning of our departure, everything seemed okay until at the last minute, when they started coming toward me with the suit. I know my folks mean well, and I'm a gentle soul, so I let them put it on meToby dress in a paper painting suit again.

When the taxi came to take us to the train station, the driver hopped out, and almost doubled over in laughter when he saw me in my taxi suit. The hotel staff had come out to wave goodbye to me, and everyone was smiling. Unlike other times when cabs have come and refused to let me get in, this man held the door open for me and said that I was welcome to ride with him anytime.

I might look silly in my suit, but because of it, I can hop in any cab in Paris, pas de problème.
 
February 2001
My mailbox has been flooded with notes from friends and neighbors.  Everyone is wondering what happened to me. People have seen my bandages and it seems that there are rumors, rumors and more rumors about my health. I haven't seen rumors like this since I went to the firehouse in San Francisco.  Now there's a place for rumors, one of the best. Let me give you the true story straight from the dog's mouth.

Last July I took a tumble off a large barge. I fell into a little boat and injured my left leg. I was working in my capacity of friendly and loyal companion following my folks everywhere they go, when this accident happened.  So now I have been placed off duty, and I'm hoping that I am on a paid disability leave.

They took me to the local vet in St. Jean de Losne.  He gave me some pills. I felt a little better after a couple of vet visits, but my leg still hurt and my folks noticed that I was walking funny.

When we reached Roanne, I visited a new doctor, a very gentle woman.  She spoke French to me while she examined my leg. It was nice. One day I went to see her and she gave me a shot that knocked me out. I was woozy when I woke up, and I saw my folks and the doctor looking at black pictures of me in skeletal form. Was I OK?  It was hard to know, because they were speaking in French.

Next, we went to Lyon to see a specialist.  What now? On January 11th a little camera was inserted to my left knee and photographs were taken.  Oh my!  They knocked my out again, and I learned later that I had an operation to repair my torn ligament.

I am home now and feeling fine. The surgery was successful, but apparently I am not allowed to run or goToby with his whole leg bandaged up and down stairs for the next two months.  So now I live in wheelhouse and each night guard the front door.  I don't mind the night watch; I have been sleeping a lot during the day anyway. I just hope the captain gives me a square on the watch chart. I would like to get a few squares ahead so I can be off during the summer when there are more night time activities.

 





 
April 2001
Je vais de mieux et mieux. (I just keep getting better and better). I am recovering well from my knee operation.  I now have a skip and jump back in my walk. I almost feel like a pup again.

We have another new car, and the luggage was out, so I knew we were going on a trip, but I never know where.  I hopped in the back seat and stretched out, I had the whole seat to myself, but I would have preferred to share it with Lauren again.  She is so much fun, and I was sorry to see her go back home.

After a couple of hours with my nose pressed against the window, I began to experience the feeling of déjà vu. Then things began to look more and more familiar, and I knew thatToby rolling in the grass I had been on this little road before.  When we pulled into the courtyard, I saw my old cat friends, Moustache and Pistache. Yes, we were back. This was our first French home, I'm sure.  I jumped out of the car and ran around the houses to the giant back yard with the big swimming pool.  I went for a run through the trees. I made figure eights and loop de loops.  On my favorite place in the grass I rolled on my back and kicked my feet in the air. I was home!  Off to the kitchen, where's my food bowl? Up the stairs to my old room.  Wow, I remember, this was a great place. Are we going to stay here again?

The next day we jumped back in the car for a drive into tMarc and Nellie pet Tobyown.  We stopped at our old boat yard and saw all of the guys who remodeled our boat. I ran up to each one and said hello. They remembered me.  I got lots of smiles and pats.

On a walk through town, I knew right where to go. It was déjà vu all over again. I headed, tout de suite, for France Décor, our old hardware store. Nellie is that you?  Mark, are you here? Yes! I squeezed in with them behind the front counter.  I know where they keep the cookies. The best dog cookies in all of France!  An unlimited supply! Nellie never stops with one or two cookies. She sometimes gave me five or six. What a gold mine! I never met such generous cookie givers. How nice of my family to drive all the way back here to St. Jean de Losne so that I could have more of these delicious cookies. My folks are the greatest.



 
November 2001
This summer I cruised to Belgium and back, and I learned so much about barge travel.  It's really cool, once you get the hang of not falling overboard.

Toby at the door of a hotel bargeOne of the best parts of cruising is mooring at night near other boats.  Boaters are so friendly. Soon it became apparent to me that all boats had one thing in common, they all carry lots of good food. I like the big hotel barges. The aromas that float over from their kitchens are real attention getters. They can even wake me up from a nap. As soon as I get a whiff, I go over and sit by their kitchen door.  I give them my perpetually optimistic, I'm a little hungry look, and wait. The staff, seeing me sitting there so politely, almost always give me something delicious. Of course, after the first treat I stay right where I am and wait patiently for another.

When my folks find me begging they always say the same thing, "You would think we never feed him." They should know by now that food is my life. I am always happy to stay at one port for at least a couple of days, because then I can learn which boats will feed me. The next morning I am back to those boats in a flash.  I have really honed my hungry look this summer.  It works like a charm every time now.

While traveling we often go out to lunch, and the tables in small cafés are usually pretty close together. This gives me a chance to meet people. One time I met this nice man who was sitting at the table next to us.  He liked me a lot.  He gave me bread soaked with gravy. I gave him my best look, and he gave me more food.  He said he wanted to take me home, and I think he thought it was friendship for life. After his lunch, he went to the bar for coffee. My attention went to another table near me.  They had treats for me too. Wow! A few minutes later the first man came back, saw me giving my look to the other table and said to my folks, "Il est infidèle." He left looking a little disappointed.

Toby at a Paris cafeParis was one of my favorite stops this summer. We spent a lot of time there, and we went often to a café on the Champs Élysées where they always served me water in a Champagne bucket. I felt just like a movie star as I sipped from my bucket. People kept pointing at me and smiling as they walked down the boulevard.

On our trip north we entered one lock where we met a friendly French dog named, Luc.  His master was the lock keeper, and he showed us that Luc could do several clever tricks.  My folks began putting me through my paces to show how smart I was. I could do almost every trick that Luc could do, but he won the contest with donne la patte. When my folks tried to get me to do the same trick I did not know what they wanted. They had never taught me to shake hands in English, let alone in French.

As soon as we left the lock, my folks began to teach me this trick. We worked on it during the summer, and on the way home this fall, we entered the same lock and there was Luc. The lock keeper told Luc to sit, and so my folks told me to sit. Then Luc was told to lie down, so I was told to lie down. Suddenly it was the International Dog Olympics, the United States against France, trick against trick.  I heard my folks chanting, U.S.A! U.S.A!

This time I vowed that things would be different.  I took a couple of deep cleansing breaths and imagined myself performing perfectly. I pictured myself winning. I was focused.Proud Toby sitting before an American flag

Luc was good, and he looked confident. He thought that he would win again with his hand shaking trick. When I was told in English to shake hands, I did. I looked at Luc and saw that he looked a little worried. I listened carefully for the donne la patte command, and when I heard it, I gracefully lifted my paw and shook hands. I did it. I had concentrated and understood the command in French. Luc's master threw in the towel when he saw that I was bilingual.  I won because of my French language skills.

I was proud to win for my folks and for my country.

 

 

 
 
April 2002
I may be just a dog, but I still lead a pretty cool life. How many dogs can say that their folks took them to lunch in a foreign country for their eighth birthday?
Toby looking out the back window of our new car
That was the birthday surprise that my folks had for me on March 19th. They took me to Italy for the day.  We went with my old friends Jim and Beth. They stayed with us for awhile at the gîte way back when we all first arrived in France. Now, we were staying with them for a few days in the house they were renting for the winter. It was in Antibes, so it wasn't too far to drive across the border to Italy. When we all piled in our car, I called dibs first for the back window, so I jumped in the back. Everyone else had to take the seats.

As soon as we crossed the border, I noticed that all of the signs were different, there were more cars on the road and the houses were closer together. Once we got out of the car, I could tell that everyone was speaking a border gatedifferent language.  It sounded to me as though they were singing.

When we opened the restaurant door, my group suddenly realized that they couldn't speak any Italian.  They all stood in the doorway pointing at me. For a moment I thought that they expected me to take over, to ask for a table, order and everything. That set my heart to racing, because I have never learned to speak. Then with great relief, I realized they were only asking in sign language if I could come into the restaurant.  Since the Italians are experts at talking with their hands, the waiter knew right away what they meant. He smiled at me, and lead us to a table.

My people didn't have any trouble reading the menu since they are all from San Francisco. There are so many great Italian restaurants there, that everyone learns menu Italian.  But for me, this was a totally new and really exciting experience. San Francisco might have great restaurants, but they don't let dogs come inside.  The only time I got to go to a restaurant back home was when they had outdoor tables.  Before I came to France, I never knew how delightful a restaurant could smell when all of those delectable food aromas are trapped inside the walls.  In this Italian restaurant the smells were deliciously intense. I found that I enjoyed them even more than the much more subtle and delicate French restaurant fragrances. I didn't need to look at a menu, I just wanted to order EVERYTHING!  

I couldn't wait for our food to arrive, so while my folks were busy talking I edged over to the next table. Two Italian guys were in the middle of their meal, and I was optimistic about my chances for a taste of their food.  I knew from my many experiences in French restaurants that my hungry look would probably win them over. But still this was a new challenge for me as a traveling dog. How would the Italians react to my pleading eyes?

Just like an actor, I took a little time to focus on the feelings and needs that I wanted my face and my eyes to express. When I felt ready, I sat up tall and presented them with my best look.

My biorhythms must have been in tune because it was my birthday, or maybe it was just that Italians are perceptive people, but whatever the reason, I was ever so pleased with the results. They started feeding me right away.  First they gave me bread sticks. Crunchy, yummy bread sticks. My tail wagged so fast that napkins were flying off the tables behind me.  This made them recognize me as a true gourmet, and they started handing me the good stuff right off their plates.   
Toby joins an Italian for lunch
In the middle of my scrumptious meal, when I was savoring some veal scallopini, my folks decided that they wanted to take my picture. Honestly, sometimes they are as bad as the paparazzi. I tried to ignore them, but the man I was dining with saw them jumping around trying to get my attention, and he made me pose so that we could dine in peace.

After our plates were clean, I began dreaming of tiramisu for dessert. I was sending out tiramisu vibes, hoping that someone would think to order me some, when I saw the waiter bring some to my folks' table. I said ciao to my new friends, and ran back over there.
Toby sleeping on the way home
 

Like many people who get taken out to a restaurant to celebrate their birthday, I was so full of pleasant experiences that I don't even remember the ride home.

 

 
 
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