Our Canine Soldier, Toby.

Everyone who knows us, or has read this blog, knows about our awesome dog, Toby. Of course, Toby is our 6-year old purebred pitbull, whom we fostered at six-weeks old and then loved so much we adopted him ourselves. Toby and Mandy (his border collie-mix sister) have been steadfast members of our family since the day George and I got married.

Toby is a man’s dog; he loves to ride in the front seat of the flatbed with George, help George and the crew with crab gear work, and do anything he can to be around a workin’ man. He is also a family dog; he is wonderful with the kids and an incredibly patient, loving, strong, and big dog. Our Toby defines the word stoic. He’s our brave and uncomplaining soldier.

Toby is also a miracle dog. When he was shockingly diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in March 2007, the conventional vets gave him thirty days to live. After we had his eye removed and started him on homeopathic remedies, he went into remission for an unheard-of two years.

This fall, innocent Toby was punched in the head by a bum while on one of his walks. Nothing could have infuriated us more.

In the two years since he’s been in remission from cancer, Toby has flourished. He’s eaten homemade meals with supplements and vitamins every night, gained a lot weight, and grown strong and confident. He has never been healthier. In the meantime, we added 1000 square feet to the house, created a backyard, and did everything we could to make life as ideal as possible for every member of the family, including the pups.

I’ll cut to the chase: After two years in remission, it recently became apparent that Toby was out of whack. He looked odd; his spine protruded, his belly hung low, and he moved slowly. He seemed depressed, and he even turned home from one of his walks.

We got him into his vet; an x-ray showed a tumor. The next day, we got him into an ultrasound; it showed a massive spleen tumor.

I called George on the fishing grounds, something I never do. He said, “Do whatever it takes. Get it out if you can.” I’d delayed calling George until I absolutely had to. I didn’t want to be an alarmist, especially when it concerned one of his best buddies. We had hardly any phone coverage, and I couldn’t even fully explain the situation. His command was clear, however: Get It Out.

That made my decsion much easier. Toby underwent emergency surgery yesterday, and an eight-pound, football-sized tumor was removed, along with his spleen. The tumor was so big that the surgeon said Toby wouldn’t have survived another day at home, or even a surgery scheduled for later, because the mass was ready to burst at any moment.

The tumor actually ruptured during surgery, and Toby lost a lot of blood. His bone marrow is not regenerating blood very quickly, but his heart is holding steady. Currently, he is in stable condition and being monitored by board-certified physicians.

I am so grateful for my parents, sisters, babysitters, and friend/miracle pet lover, Lisa. All of these people have altered their schedules, sacrificed money, and been on standby for Toby and all the rest of us. I am now, and will forever be, grateful beyond all comprehension!

Lisa and Toby

Toby Waiting for Surgery


  1. I, as well, employ a pit-bull who could be the most supporting animal I have ever owned. Quickly, a brand new dog breed will come together to the media to blast, because they have done rotties and dobies in preceding years. Unfortunate that media sensationalism breeds a lot inaccurate details.

    • Oh, you are exactly right. It is a real shame the way these dogs are portrayed. You never hear about the way pitbulls are used to help special needs children, or visit people in hospitals, or even sniff out bombs. Their strong, gentle, and loving nature is never portrayed. But when one is abused and mistreated from birth and reacts, it’s all over.

Leave a Reply