An Open Letter from Toby’s Family
I wanted to take this time and tell everyone about a very special dog. His name is Toby. Toby was a second time surrender to the Charleston Animal Shelter after someone had poured hot water or acid on him. The shelter decided that he would be saved and not put to sleep, and was the start of them being a No Kill Community.
I first heard about Toby on the way to work. Kay Hyman had brought him on one of the local news radio stations. Described as part Australian Shepard, I was touched by his story. However, my wife and I already had two rescued Shetland Sheepdogs and also two cats. I didn’t think we could handle an additional member to the pack. However, at the end of the week, I told my wife about Toby. As a friend of Kay’s on Facebook, she contacted her and was told that Toby needed a forever home. That weekend, we packed up our two shelties and made a visit to the new shelter in North Charleston.
We immediately fell in love with him. He was smart, active and a great age match with our first sheltie, Baylee. We knew right then that he was to be our newest pack member. Of course, Toby was the third member. My wife’s favorite was Baylee and I was working to train our other sheltie, Barney, the very first dog that was, alone, mine. I often joked I was changing his name to Phineas Tobias (Toby). That way we had our special circus, P.T. Barney and Baylee. Toby was shared between my wife and me. Toby’s story was told in a local magazine and his photo was used to obtain donations from a local brewery.
Then tragedy struck. Barney, who when originally rescued had weighed only 11.5 pounds and was now a healthy 24 pounds, suddenly died. I was heartbroken. I took a day off from work to grieve the loss of this dog. Sitting in our living room, distraught over the loss, I suddenly felt a furry head under my hand. It was Toby. He recognized my sadness and grief. He spent the entire day at my side or cuddling up in my lap or arms. He did all he could to help take the hurt away. From that day forward, he was my little buddy, my constant companion and shadow. He followed me always. Even if he was sleeping next to me, if I got up, he followed and waited patiently for my next movement.
And Toby began to show other ways he was smart. He learned obedience, following both hand and voice commands. When we went out, it was not unusual for me to be able to speak with someone and give him a simple sit or lay hand signal, with immediate compliance. On walks, he followed at my side, sitting when we came to a stop at a street intersection. At home, he could puzzle out problems when a favorite ball or toy was not easily reached.
When we found out about the Charleston Animal Society having created Toby’s Fund to help become a No Kill Community, my wife and I were so proud. Whenever we spoke to people about him, we always mentioned the fund and referred to him as our local celebrity. One of my proudest moments was this past November, when we were honored to be guests at the Celebrity Chili Cook Off for Charleston Animal Society. Not only did he get to meet some of the firemen that were in the annual calendar, but also had the chance to get photos with Senator Tim Scott. He was introduced to many of the other local celebrities and to the general public. It made it clear, why Toby’s Fund existed.
Then another tragedy occurred. Three weeks after the cook-off, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I had to be hospitalized for a month. When I returned home, I was immediately greeted by my little pal. During the following two months, he was a constant companion, bringing me joy and love. His original tragedy and survival inspired me to push on. One of my goals was to get well so he and I could have a long life together. To me he had brought me luck, as my brother was found to be a perfect match for a transplant. Unfortunately that long life together was not to be.
Shortly after my admission to the hospital to start the process for the transplant, Toby became ill. My wife took him to the emergency clinic, but his condition was critical. Toby passed on April 6, 2014 of a blood disease that caused him to bleed without control. He was seven years old.
I ask anyone reading this to consider making a donation to the Charleston Animal Society’s Toby’s Fund in memory of this wonderful dog. Continue their great work to save other animals so that they too can bring the same joy and happiness that Toby brought to me and my wife. I know he will be grateful for your support.
Sincerely and with great thanks,
As you know, Charleston Animal Society’s medical fund was named after Toby who came to us badly injured after a chemical burn. Our medical team brought him back to full strength and Toby was adopted by Kim and Jim Bryan. On April 6, 2014, just as Jim was going in for a bone marrow transplant, Toby passed away, leaving his family, and our animal community devastated. Charleston Animal Society will always be grateful for the inspiration Toby provided our organization and our community. He helped us step forward to start a visionary medical fund designed to treat every healthy and treatable animal. This first step gave us courage to move forward and become a No Kill Community. Toby– we know you are running free somewhere in heaven– and we will always keep you in our hearts.