Every year, the Ducks Unlimited in Erie PA has a dinner and a raffle...they raffle off lots of hunting stuff and the final raffle is for a puppy. The puppy comes from amazing hunting backgrounds, the pedigree is truly amazing, and nearly everyone would buy a ticket (or 10) to try to win the puppy. Each year Dad would go and say that he would wear a tie so that if he won the dog, he could use the tie as a leash...it was our running joke each year.
Then one year, he didn't wear the tie...and the next morning, I woke up to find a tiny black lab kissing my face! Everyone was so jealous we won such an amazing hunting dog when we don't hunt!
From that day on, Toby Tyler Downey was my brother. Toby was a typical lab puppy, aka...completely insane! He LOVED sneaking out of the fence, we would chase him around for hours trying to catch him, he ate EVERYTHING, and barked non-stop at people walking in the neighborhood but if you weren't feeling well- he never left your side, he would walk up and give you big sloppy kisses if you were crying, he never cared if you just laid on top of him when you needed a big hug.
As crazy of a puppy he was, he was the best dog a girl could ask for. As the years went on, he got calmer and calmer, then you could tell old age was really taking a toll...he started getting these growths all over him, he had really bad arthritis, he could barely hear anything and his eye sight was quickly fading away. We would have to support most of his weight for him to be able to walk upstairs, when he was laying down for a long time you would have to help him up. Christmas 2009 we talked about how that would most likely be his last Christmas...then 2010 rolls around and he is here for this Christmas as well.
Unfortunately, that was his last. Toby had to be put down Sunday night. He couldn't support himself at all, the muscles in his legs were all gone. I'm sad, really really sad. I wish I could have been there to tell him goodbye and that I loved him. I know that he knows I loved him but I wanted to say it one last time. He got me through so much- 13 1/2 years worth of growing up.
I know everyone goes through losing their first childhood pet and I know that he isn't in pain anymore and that he is probably swimming in the big old lake in Heaven chasing geese like he did when he was younger, but it still hurts to realize that Ill never get to see him again.
RIP Toby, you weren't just a dog, you were my brother. I love you so much!