Tobin the Adventurer

Guest Blogger: Whitney G.
November, 2022

Tobin, our happy, smart, vocal Australian Shepherd, came to us from a farm in Winchester, Kentucky at just 8 weeks old. Our dear friend Jude Clark knew of a farmer that had a new litter of Aussie puppies and asked us if we wanted one. We were instantly in love with the fluffy tri-blacks that he sent us photos of. At the time we had a very smart Australian Cattledog, Milo, who desperately needed a companion to spend time with. We told Jude we wanted a puppy and before we knew it, Tobin was put on a plane and flown out to Colorado to join our little family.

Tobin & Milo became the best of friends. Milo at the time was seven and very patient with our new rascal. He showed him the ropes, what to chase, what not to chase, how to swim, fetch, play, herd, and be the most loyal of dogs to us. Tobin quickly adjusted to his new Colorado home and to being part of our family. He has since a very young age only wanted to please, show us love and affection.

Tobin has been the very best dog over the course of his 8 years with us. We have traveled all over the country with him, introduced him to family & friends, dogs, and cats. He has taken a ferry to British Columbia, swam in the Pacific Ocean, hiked in the tall forests of Idaho, ran the fields of Grandpa’s farm in Indiana, and boated on mountain lakes of Colorado. He loves to camp – at night nestling in between my husband and I, swallowed up by sleeping bags. He likes to fish – patiently watching my husband cast a line and real in Rainbow trout with a net. He is a dream off leash and has hiked by our side miles and miles in the beautiful National Forests of our state – taking in aspens, wildlife, and peaks of every season. He loves to herd our chickens, a small flock of seven. We started to say, ‘round em up’ and he instantly knew to herd them into the coop. He hates bees and has been stung too many times. He loves rides in the back up the truck – anxiously singing as we approach the lake or trailhead. He spends his days laying at my feet as I work from home, giving me constant company, letting me know often with a grunt or a look from his chocolate eyes, picking up a squeaky toy from the pile in a nearby basket, that it’s time for a break to play.

He is a dog with routines. Each morning he hops up into bed as my husband gets up for work in the early morning. He curls up close and sleeps until I wake. Breakfast is always a highlight of his day – a love for kibble (and now homemade chicken, rice, and veggies!) makes his whole body wiggle with joy. While waking for the day he has learned to ‘Do Yoga’ stretching his body in the downward dog position.

Whenever we leave the house, and he has to stay home, whether for 10 minutes or two hours, Tobin greets us at the door, looking up at us to smile, showing his white teeth and Aussie grin. His whole body wiggles, excited that we’re home again.

His personality is so sweet. He is playful, happy. He is loving. He is the kindest of dogs. When Milo grew old, Tobin would carefully walk around him, wait for him to enter the house first, and give him little kisses on his snout. We lost Milo in early September, at 15 ½ years old, just a week before learning of Tobin’s devasting cancer diagnosis. I can’t help but think that Tobin too was sad to lose his old friend that he’d known for his entire dog life. He still waits on the staircase landing, often looking out the window, waiting for his friend to return.

For us, our dogs are everything. They are our children. To lose Milo was incredibly hard, but we know he lived a long, adventurous life, and now reflecting on that, I know just how lucky we were to have him live such a long life with us. Tobin, just a week after Milo died, started to present a slight limp on his right front leg. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, as he plays hard – chasing squirrels up Ponderosa pines and hurdling over the yard to catch tennis balls. I thought it was just an injury – maybe early arthritis? X-rays soon after at our local veterinary clinic gave us the heart wrenching news that he did not have an injury, but instead a very aggressive bone cancer – osteosarcoma – and a very sad prognosis for our full-of-life, sweet boy. The news became worse as we could not follow through with a front leg amputation. The day before surgery, we learned that the cancer had metastasized to his lungs. We were told without treatment, he would have only months to live.

My husband and I are now on a new journey with Tobin. We will do whatever we can to prolong the quality and quantity of our pup’s life. We want to keep him as pain free as possible and hope to slow the progression and size of Tobin’s cancerous tumors. We have sought out the very best advice and treatment plans from an oncologist at Southern Colorado Veterinary Internal Medicine in Colorado Springs as well as palliative radiation therapy through CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins.

KarmaSue stepped in to help our family when we needed it most. Britton Slagle, KarmaSue’s Founder and Executive Director right away sent us the financial need application and kept an open and honest dialogue with us during the process. We immediately were sent dozens of resources to help us on this new journey. Britton and her outstanding board were able to help us financially support some of Tobin’s pain management plan as well as send us with lots of support and education regarding cancer in dogs plus counseling for grief and compassion fatigue. KarmaSue’s support has made a huge impact to lessen the stress in our home and has provided some ease to this new financial and emotional burden.

We want to keep our beloved Tobin in our lives as long as possible. It is just devasting that cancer can disrupt so many lives, human and animal. The loss will be great when Tobin is no longer with us.

We thank KarmaSue, Britton, and the amazing board members for helping us along the way.

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