July 31, 2013

New dog wins family's heart quickly

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — We have a new dog. Her name is Piper.

I’m not what you would call a “dog lover,” or any other animal for that matter, but Piper is quickly becoming a part of our family.

Early one morning, I thought I heard her bark. I looked at the clock: 4:48. Can’t be, I thought, so I closed my eyes. Then I heard another bark. It was Piper. I figured somebody was walking by the house so she was letting us know.

I opened the bedroom door. She was wagging her tail in expectation of something good. She needed to go out, and quickly. I peeked out the window. Everything was wet from the rain. I pulled on the closest pair of rain boots I could find — Toby’s.

Out we went. Me in my nightgown and black rubber boots, three sizes too big. Good thing we live in the country and our back yard is fairly private. The neighbors would be calling me that “crazy old dog lady.”

Piper did her duty, as I had guessed, and we went back into the house.

She’s a pretty smart dog, Australian cattle dog/black Lab mix. She knows she’ll get a treat after potty time. She took off for the food canister.

She does this cute little dance when she senses food, like she has springs on her feet. I thought, “It’s too early to be this excited,” but excited she was.

Ten minutes later, Piper was curled up on her blanket, and I headed back to bed.

Where’s Toby during all this time? Sleeping, I think. I didn’t have the heart to wake him up to take her out because he’s the one who walks her the majority of the time. He’s a night owl, so it’s not unusual for Piper to be walked at 2 or 3 a.m., depending on what’s on TV.

Funny, though, when I got back into bed, he was awake, wanting to know if I took her out. So I gave him an update and shut my eyes. I started to think, “This would make a good column. I bet there are a lot of readers who have had the same experience.”

I lay there, turned over three or four times, turned on the fan. Nothing worked. I could not get back to sleep. A glance at the clock said it was 5:38 a.m. I do not get up at such an hour but finally gave in, got up and put the coffee on.

Piper was sitting on the wood box in front of the living-room window, her head under the curtain. I’m not sure what she was looking at. She jumped down, wiggled her way over to me like she was saying, “Hey, you’re up again.”

When the children were growing up, we had a lot of dogs and cats. There was black, curly Terry, a terrier-poodle; Bandit, a German shepherd; Major, a beautiful gray and white blue Merle collie; and Kaluah, a wolf/husky called Mooser by our granddaughter, Carly, because of his size.

Next was Jake, a rotweiller/ German Shepherd mix, and now Piper. (Cats: Pretty, Diamonds, Mustache Kitty, Djakar.)

Before Piper, we never looked for a pet. We always “inherited” them when the owners couldn’t care for them. Toby could never say no to a needy dog or cat.

After Jake had to be put to sleep nearly two years ago, we both said: “No more dogs, We’re getting too old, they take a lot of time and energy.” Then he’d say, “I really miss my Mooser and my Jakey.”

When I saw Piper’s picture on Facebook, I knew she was our next dog. Her owner said she was too energetic for a family with three small children and a new baby due, and it wasn’t fair to Piper.

So she’s here to stay. I am growing to love her, even though I have to vacuum more often, walk her when she says so and spend money on expensive dog food and vet care.

I can honestly say she’s worth it, and she’s won Toby’s heart in a very short time.

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at