Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tosh (May 8, 2002 - September 18, 2010)

Big dogs need big sticks

On Saturday September 18th, the greatest dog in the history of dogs laid down to rest and closed his eyes for the last time. The last few weeks had been tough, and he was ready to put this world behind him. Somewhere in doggy heaven a big, clumsy, goofball of a dog is chasing skunks or snoring, ridiculously loudly, on God's front porch.

Baby Tosh with his two brothers

We first saw Tosh when he was 5 weeks old. He was a discount dog as his future owner was deployed to Afghanistan and could no longer take him. His mother was a 125 lbs, solid black Newfoundland, and his father was the same black and white Landseer variety as Tosh. A winner of countless show competitions, Tosh's father was quite the stud dog, even fathering numerous puppies years after his death--including Tosh.

The breeder had brought the puppies outside for us to see, and locked the big dogs inside to give us a little quite time with the puppies. Tosh's uncle didn't like the idea of being separated from all the excitement outside, and as a sign of things to come he proceeded to lower his head and barrel right thru the screen door and made a bee-line for George. George was a bit freaked out by the big dog bearing down on her, but after a couple licks to the face and some playful bowing, she was quite enamored with the big guy.

The breeder also explained to us that she intentionally breeds smaller, more active Newfoundlands and all of her dogs were about 10-15% below the average newfie size. We thought this was great, as it was temperament and not size that attracted us to the breed, and really we thought the current big dogs she had were certainly big enough. We signed on the dotted line and she told us to come back in 3 weeks when Tosh would be ready to come home with us.

3 weeks later and Tosh had already doubled in size. At 27 lbs he was already a respectable sized dog, and by 6 months he was probably the biggest dog I had ever had. Despite the smaller size of his closest relatives, and the breeder's assertion that she breeds for smaller size, Tosh would end up being quite a bit bigger than than the average Newfoundland--35 inches at the shoulders and an average of 165 lbs.

Yes that is a full sized picnic table behind him

Tosh never quite understood how big he was. He preferred (to usually disastrous results) to play with the little dogs, his favorite spot on the couch was the smallest spot in between two people already sitting there, and he never let things like small openings prevent him from trying to get thru. Once while tied up outside a restaurant, he drug a solid stone picnic table about 8 feet while trying to get closer so some people that were making "Oooohhh he's so cute" sounds but were too scared of his size to get close to him. I couldn't push the table back to its original position.

One of Tosh's favorite playmates was literally 1/10th his size

As part of the puppy training classes we took him to, we were supposed to be able to lead our dogs off-leash thru a simple obstacle course. The course was pretty similar to the ones you see the pro agility dogs run--a small hoop to jump thru, some staggered cones to run the slalom, and an ramp leading to a short elevated platform. Tosh was never a fan of jumping, and generally preferred to keep atleast 2 feet on solid ground, so he simply ran into the hoop knocking it over, and being by far the tallest dog in the class, he slalomed thru the cones by simply walking over them and straddled the ramp and platform to the end of the course. The instructor passed him out of amusement.

One of the rare times Tosh got all 4 feet off the ground

Despite his struggles early on with obedience training, Tosh eventually became the best behaved dog anyone could want. He never chewed on anything, dug any holes, chased cars or any animals (other than skunks, unfortunately), and he only barked on command. Yes he frequently broke stuff, slobbered on stuff, and once while sick and trying to settle his stomach he ate nearly every plant on our newly landscaped patio, but those were not behavioral problems, just big clumsy dog problems.

Tosh makes a good blanket

Tosh spent the last 2 years of his life in doggy paradise. Grilled steaks for dinner, frequent treats from the neighbors, and new dogs in the neighborhood to play with. But as with all of us, age, and size, was starting to catch up with him. About a year ago he tore his ACL and spent a couple months hobbling around in great fear of any steps more than a couple inches high. He eventually recovered reasonably well from this, but age was taking its toll on other parts of his body. After weeks of listlessness and lack of appetite he dropped 20 lbs and was clearly having a tough time. Frequent whimpering and blood in his stool and saliva only made the picture more clear. Cancer and age had, unfortunately, claimed another victim and the world lost its greatest dog.

Tosh doing what he does best

Rest in peace big guy. There will never be another like you.

More pictures of Tosh here.


Scott McArthur said...

So sad. :(

Moka Bear and Grizzly said...

Michael and George, I am so sorry for your lost. I'm a bit late reading your post because we've been living in our caravan for the last 3 months while waiting to move into our house. We couldn't find a place where our 3 dogs were welcomed so the caravan became our house. We could never be without our dogs. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to lose a furry friend. I cried reading your post and I hope that the good memories you have of him stay with you forever. Run free at rainbow bridge Tosh.


Cindy, Moka Bear, Grizzly & Domino xoxo

michael said...

Thanks for the kind words Cindy (and Moka and Grizzly and Domino). It is certainly pretty horrible to lose a pet, but it also reminds you of all the awesome times you had.

Good luck on finding a rental--I know how hard that was with my one big dog, with 3 big guys I can only imagine (just lie!).