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Gentle Giant Toby Finds Peace in His New Life

Note: In 2016, Friends of Flicka supported Retrieve a Golden of the Midwest in a large-scale rescue of 37 dogs who’d been seized from a cruelty case and were being sold at a commercial breeding auction. This letter is from the family who adopted one of the rescued dogs.


Dear Friends of Flicka, 

In the summer of 2016, when we lost our dear Trudy to cancer, we knew we would want to adopt another Golden as a companion for our other dog Libby. We wanted to wait for a while to give more space for Trudy to leave our hearts. But, with your help, RAGOM was undertaking a major rescue at a puppy mill auction that summer. We were very lucky to be chosen to adopt Boone (now Tobyn). We still miss Trudy. No dog could ever replace that funny girl, but at 87 lbs., Tobyn has not only filled our living room but our hearts as well.

We wanted to find a new name for Boone, one that reflected his personality and the start of his new life after years in commercial breeding. Boone’s foster dad had told us that Boone had a “marshmallow” personality. Our challenge was to find a name that expressed his softness yet wasn’t already taken by one of the neighbor children. We settled on Toby, then added an “n” to the end of the name in order to give it more dignity. So now he is Toby to his family and neighbors and Mr. Tobyn on special occasion.

Toby has a very gentle personality. When he arrived at our home 3 years ago, the children on either side of our fenced back yard were still toddlers, and Toby was like a gentle giant with them, loving their attention and pets with a calm presence, occasionally mistaking their stuffed toys for his own. Toby is a polite dog, keeping his eye contact askance rather than staring eye- to-eye. He is a very soulful dog, reticent at times, hopefully not burdened with bad memories. He radiates joy when it’s time to go for a walk, eat a meal, or engage in a game of keep-away with his toys.

Toby has two other names in our house. One is “Mr. Buttinsky” because he “butts in” when he sees Libby receiving attention, and he wants to get in on it too. A head taller than she is, he is very successful “butting in.” His other name is “Barometer Bob” because of his skill in weather forecasting, specifically when a low-pressure system is coming in. It is not uncommon to see Toby slink through the kitchen on the way to the basement stairs two minutes before we hear a crack of lightening, a rumble of thunder, or the start of rain. Once when the way to the basement was blocked overnight, we found him in the bathtub in the morning. In the picture we captured, you can see what a sad (but secure) boy he seemed to be.

By now Toby is a fairly confident dog who loves his daily routine. In addition to his other talents, he has also learned to tell time. Should we be late for any part of his daily routine, he is quick to remind us by, for example, nudging me out of bed by 6:15 a.m. for breakfast preparation, staring at me at 4 p.m. if I haven’t served his supper yet, or pacing around Curt if he isn’t getting out the leashes for one of their four daily walks.

Unlike Libby, Toby doesn’t like to linger in the back yard to chew a stick, watch for critters, or just enjoy the sun. Perhaps as a result of being caged in his early years, Toby is oblivious to the presence of squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks in his outdoor world. After he has done his business or enjoyed an exuberant run or two in the backyard, he has his nose intensely pointed to the back door asking to be let back into his place of safety, food, and warmth. 

Since his adoption, Toby has gradually lost many of his fears in the house (e.g. fear of sudden noises or the vacuum cleaner). He still backs away when we carry large objects in our hands. His trust of us is increasing, however, because initially he would back away if I just had a piece of paper in my hands. Giving him an opportunity to sniff large fearful objects is usually successful in easing his anxiety.

A very handsome Golden Retriever, Toby is also impressive for his submissive gentleness. As a result, he has made friends with neighbors encountered on his walks, and he approaches them as potential sources for an affectionate pat. He doesn’t show interest in other dogs, however. In fact, whenever he spots a large breed on a walk, he drops to the ground to demonstrate that he is not a threat.

It is beyond heartbreaking to know that Tobyn and dogs like him are kept in cages in commercial breeding facilities with no walks, no toys, no affectionate attention, no daily routines to look forward to, no way to allay fears, inadequate nutrition and muscle development, and painful infections. But for this one precious boy, it is beyond our ability with words to express the gratitude we feel toward all who helped Toby, and that his life is now safe, secure, and soulfully, joyfully changed for the better.

– Betty and Curt