We went to the horse show, and I thought to myself as I saw a little mutt running around, "We would have demolished this whole thing if we had brought our new pup along." Just the thought of chasing TobyMac at the horse show made me feel the need to sit down. But, before having a chance to do that, my friend, Betty Cassim, walked up from tending her horses; she brought up the article about our dog and commented about his keeping us both hopping. She laughed, and said, "Now I know why you like Will." The secret is out! The fact that I love her grandson, little Will Cassim, would be hard to hide, and one of these days I will devote a whole article, if not a book, about this most charming young man. I said, "You know I love bad little boys!" (In today's vernacular "bad" means "good" in lots of contexts, and Will and Toby fall into the category if "bad" means inquisitive, smart, imaginative, quick-thinking, original and loving, with the ability to steal your heart!) Will brings one smile after another to me at Sunshine School. Last December, he helped me greet Kentucky's Commissioner of Education before our building was completed, and that is the story I need to tell you some day. When Dr. Holliday commented on the small water fountain at the sink in Will's classroom, Will, fully decked out with a leather tool belt and real tools, told him "I check it every day." It will probably be awhile before I have long, reflective writing times, it seems. Long thoughtful times to write articles will probably not come until Toby is a mature adult (that is hard to imagine). Our 3-second, 3-yard dashes now include any reading material (magazines being TobyMac's favorite) and any snack. At certain times, he can get the cover of "Southern Living" off and devoured in 15 seconds flat. When left unattended, he leaves them alone, but for some unknown reason, if I am near the coffee table, the games begin!! It seems that he, like lots of two legged species, likes to create a stir for the fun of it. Believe it or not, I have studied a lot about dog training and understand a bit about dogs, their instincts from wolf days, gaining their respect and teaching them their place in the order in the home. Even though, right now, he thinks his name is "AlphaMale" instead of "TobyMac," we're really trying to instill order and manners. And we are making a little progress. We go by the rules about eating first before we feed him, never feeding him from the table and having a regular time and place for his food, but if I even think about a snack away from the table, he can read my mind and is totally everywhere and CAN reach it. Imagine my horror one day this week when I walked into the kitchen to see him stretched to the maximum from the top step of my kitchen stool because he saw the jar of peanuts on the counter. I need to measure that "leg span;" it was unbelievable! You may be thinking that that is normal dog behavior, but in our house it isn't. Our Boxer would be able to steal any food in our house with his size and leg span, but he doesn't; he is the dog that lies across my lap in my recliner every morning as I eat breakfast and read my Bible and devotional books. Actually, he is my perfect book rest. He has never stolen food or invaded a garbage can, a real gentleman about most everything! (He will occasionally, very carefully finish off my cup of coffee when he's sure I'm done.) I am not about comparing or labeling dogs or children, I'm just saying personality differences are real in both, and differences are what make the world an interesting place.
Our Toby is out to discover the world. His world is fairly limited right now and toilet paper rolls, ballpoint pens and dryer lint are still his favorites, but I thought I would just scream the day he discovered the pretty, polished stones lining the pot of one of my house plants. He had already distributed around the house and tried to eat the Spanish moss in another plant, but the danger of swallowing one of these rocks, which was definitely his intent, could have been very harmful to him. Several times I was SURE that all had been removed, when I would hear the hard rock surface against his little needle teeth. Very quickly I would attack him, open his mouth and retrieve yet another rock. If he were writing this article, he would probably post that that was one of his very favorite summer days, along with yesterday's chasing the neighborhood cat inside under our bed. And, yes, he constantly rearranges my decorative seashells in my downstairs bathroom.
Speaking of summer, my friend, Will Cassim, is trying to convince us all that his summer days need to be extended. He is not one bit excited about school starting and said to his family, "I'm not going; there's not any use in it." I laugh out loud every time that I remember that phrase; he has the most interesting life that a little boy can imagine with his Pap, and no school curriculum can compete with his draining hot water heaters (another story), helping to fix cars and many other manly adventures.
Raising little boys and little dogs takes quite a bit of patience and psychology; TobyMac and Will certainly make me laugh and truly light up my life.
(You can reach Pat Bryson at firstname.lastname@example.org)