Toby the Dog

by Tom Mahoney from Summerside, PEI
Apr 25, 15

Our dog Toby was a big yellow farm dog and fetching the cows at milk time was Toby’s main love in life. 

As soon as he heard us call or rattle a milk pail, Toby would spring to his feet, run for the kitchen door, leap across the porch, and tear around the end of the house and out for the field. We all loved him for this.  

One hot July day, my younger brother Bill threw a ball that I was supposed to catch. I missed it completely and it smashed through the porch window scattering broken glass half way across the kitchen floor. Bill and I spent over an hour cleaning up our mess.

It was our favorite window. On wet days we stared out at the rain beating down on the porch; on fine days we looked inward at the dinner preparations. It was a typical farmhouse window, with four large panes of glass, all carefully puttied in. Bill and I pried out the broken shards and chopped at the hardened putty. Dad was philosophical about it all. 

He said there wasn’t time to go into town for new glass, because everyone was too busy with the haying. 

He didn’t think we would freeze in July and someone could go for glass the first rainy day. 

I decided to make the best of a bad situation by teaching Toby to jump through the broken window. At first he was a little timid, so I coaxed him with cookies and bacon rinds. And in no time Toby was leaping through the opening as if he were jumping through a hoop. After a few days, we stopped opening the door for Toby – all we had to do was call to him or rattle a milk pail and out the window he’d fly. He jumped in an out of there freely all week.

One morning, towards the end of that week, the hay slackened off so dad told my brother Ambrose to drive into town and buy a pane of glass. By four in the afternoon Ambrose had the window fixed. I came by just as my brother expertly smoothed out the putty.

“Well you were a big help.” Ambrose said to me as he stepped back to admire his handiwork. 

“You might at least round up the cows so that we can start the milking.” 

I felt guilty for not having helped with the window, so I immediately rattled the milking pail, called for Toby and turned towards the field.

I realized my mistake the instant I heard the dogs feet. With a flying leap, sixty pounds of speeding dog hit the new pane. Toby landed on the porch amid a shower of glass, tore around the corner of the house and headed straight for the pasture. I tore along right beside him. 

It suddenly seemed like the perfect time for rounding up the cattle.