Let me tell you about the dog, nay the best and only friend that I had as a child.
The only other ‘friend’ I had was always trying to beat me up or rape me.
I didn’t like him that much….
Toby….my pal….was a big German Shepherd that was given to me by an Uncle who had grabbed him from an Army base before he was to be executed for cowardice in the line of fire.
Toby was a soldier at Ft. Benning, Ga.
He was trained as a guard dog, as a bomb sniffer, a combat K9 and a general purpose bad ass.
The only problem was that Toby didn’t like loud noises. He was terrified of guns, tractors, loud music and thunderstorms.
He could leap 5’ tall fences in a single bound.
He could bring murderous cows and pigs to their knees just by looking at them.
He had that….German voodoo stare thingee.
He must have weighed 100 lbs when he showed up in my life. He was tan and black with a lighter underbelly. His coat was thick and capable of securing dozens of briars and cockleburs at one time.
But, you could clap your hands or scold him and he would piss himself and immediately roll over and show you his nards.
He went everywhere with me.
Everyone knew him by sight if they saw him on his whoremonger wanderings and let us know where he was when he would disappear for a day or two.
For Toby was a lustful fellow.
It didn’t matter if it was a pig, a cow, a small horse or a Teacup poodle.
If the poor animals stood in one place too long….
Toby was gonna try to get his freak on….
I once had to walk to our little store down the road from our house.
I lived on a farm in Southwest Georgia and we were 15 miles from the town where I went to school, so “Mr. Byron’s” store was the only place I could get the awesome, and relatively new, microwave cheeseburgers.
They were nummy!
It was about a 3 mile round trip.
3 miles on a dirt road…barefoot…Fighting off the Viet Cong, ninja’s, Yankee scum, poisonous dragonflies, radioactive fire-flies and whatever else my young mind could dream up on that fantastic, old red clay dirt road lined with plum trees, blackberry bushes, honeysuckle vines, muscadynes, persimmon trees….
I know for a fact that 2,000,000 years from now, alien archaeologists will find my footprints on that road with RC Cola caps and drops of mustard here and there.
They will think “Religious Pilgrimage of some type?”
I say….”Amen brother”
Man…..That was a good time, there in my mind……
I think that’s when I became addicted to salt, sugar and fat…..
I didn’t want to take Toby this time because Mr. Byron said that Toby was a whore, and he was tired of trying to give away ½ German Shepherd and ½ bird-dog puppies…
I thought they were cute.
All 4239 of them.
So….I had a great idea and locked Toby inside my mom’s 1970 something Delta 88 Oldsmobile.
Toby was not happy with this arrangement.
When I returned from the store with my burgers, I had seen that Toby had decided to eat the inside of my mother’s car to show his displeasure.
Now remember that he was a trained bomb dog and knew how to ‘search’ a car.
He found my future ass whooping under the driver’s seat I think.
I survived the beating though and the subsequent one week confinement under heavy labor.
The traitorous German Shepherd guard dog responsible for my internment sat just outside my window staring back at me as I made gestures of death and murder at him from my cell window.
He would just lick himself, lie on his side, roll over on his back with his paws in the air and fall asleep.
There was a terrible thunderstorm one night.
Lots of lightning, hail and heavy winds.
The house was moaning, and Toby wanted in.
Toby was so terrified that he decided to knock down the door after tearing apart the casing around it.
We always let him in during storms!
Everyone in my family KNEW he was scared to death of lightning!
But dad was drunk that particular night, like so many others.
Lightning flashing, wind howling, rain driving across the sky, a frightened 100 lb dog barking, growling whining….pleading for us to let him in.
All of us kids were screaming at our dad to let Toby in the house…..we were snatching the door open…dad slamming it and us.
Such a terrible night…..
He was drunk, and wasn’t gonna let a dog boss him around.
The very dog that he crooned about to other farmers.
The very dog that would lean against my dad’s leg when he would pet him or remove stickers from his hair.
The very dog that helped my dad on our farm to separate pigs and cows from pen to pen.
The very dog that would make him laugh when Toby would jump around in high grass like a kangaroo, trying to flush field mice from their hiding places.
Dad opened the front door against the wind and rain, and kicked Toby, cussing at him.
Toby….in his delirium and desperation….snapped at my dad.
Dad turned from the door still cussing and went to his bedroom.
Toby came in the house, shaking and dripping.
Dad came back into the living room and shot Toby….right there…..in front of his children.
In front of me….
The flash of the shotgun mixed with the crash of the lightning, the blast that drowned out the screams of thunder still echo in my heart to this minute.
Then my dad dragged my dead friend out of the house by his tail and rolled him off the porch into the mud and rain.
Toby wasn’t scared of the storm anymore….
The next morning, I took my friend to his resting place and buried him.
I can’t tell you the grief I had as I dug the hole.
I buried him in the woods behind our farm, surrounded by trees and birds.
The wet mud was heavy, much heavier now that it was mixed with an 11 year olds tears and agony.
I can still feel the raindrops falling from the leaves onto my trembling arms and bent back. My knees in the mud as I said goodbye to my friend….
My partner in so many crimes…..
Toby was laid to rest on April 12th, 1976.
Murdered in cold blood.
My dad beat me when he found out I had buried Toby after he had told me to just take him into the woods and throw him on the pile of old bones left by ancient pigs and cows.
I wasn’t gonna do that….not to Toby.
He beat me until I bled, but I didn’t care.
I was numb.
I never forgave my dad for killing Toby in front of me.
I even asked him why he had done it over the following years….even after I had become a man and had children of my own….I never forgot or forgave him.
He never answered me…..or apologized.
Toby was just a damn dog after all…..
I didn’t even forgive my dad as he lay in his own box, waiting for the trip in the rain and wind that greeted his burial day.
Harsh you may say…..?
Being unforgiving towards my dad….?
Well…..he killed my dog.
I’ve forgiven him for everything else….not this.
He killed my Toby…..right in front of me.
How am I supposed to forgive that?