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The Story of Toast!

Toast was a Doberman Pinscher, who came to me when she was about 6 months old. A customer had found her, wandering near my old Boulder location (5735 Arapahoe), and she was in absolutely terrible shape. She had been starved and beaten, and her bones stuck out like those pictures you may have seen of concentration camp survivors. 

The customer who brought her to me said that if I didn't give her a home, he would take her up to the mountains and shoot her - there being no point to take her to the humane society since noone would adopt a starved beaten Doberman. He said -- if I didn't give her a home, she was 'Toast'. When I first petted her on her head, she went absolutely crazy, doing cartwheels off the walls. It was (I'm sure) because she simply was so unused to any kindness shown to her.

Anyway, I kept her so Toast became her name!

I have never had a more wonderful companion. She was gentle, VERY intelligent, and it was quite a while for her to even recover from her starvation. (The vet had her on a special diet for 6 months and only gave her a 50-50 chance of surviving the initial state she was in).  She had the deepest soulful eyes and she would play on my sympathy shamelessly! For example, she had no fat on her at all, and initially she INSISTED on sleeping under the covers for warmth. She would get up on the bed, and shiver until I lifted the covers whereupon she would dive under the covers and curl up at the bottom of the bed. Even when she was fully recovered, she would still shiver away till I lifted up the covers!

She was wonderful to drive around with. She loved the car and what safer arrangement could one ask for customers equipment in the car? No one I know would break into a car including one rather attentive Doberman?

I had another dog at the time, Gauss, (a wonderful golden-chow-lab mix), and the two got along famously. Gauss, by the way, showed me that dogs have real intelligence. One evening, Toast was on the bed, and Gauss came up and allowed as he would like to get up on the bed as well. Toast gave a little growl to let him know she was rather comfortable and didn't wish to move! Well, Gauss ran off for a few minutes and came back with a BIG bone in his mouth, which he stuck in Toast's face. He then took several steps back and dropped the bone on the floor! Toast jumped up to get the bone and Gauss hopped up onto the bed. I wish I had a camera, because I've never seen anything funnier than Toast with the bone in her mouth (on the floor of course) -- and with MURDER in her eyes as she realized she had been outfoxed. Frankly at that moment, seeing Gauss use the bone as a tool -- something to entice Toast off of the bed -- I realized that dogs are MUCH more intelligent than people give them credit for.

Anyway, Toast was with me for over 12 years. (Gauss lived until about 10 years and was accidentally killed by a truck). I found her to be invaluable -- its hard to be frustrated or depressed when you can reach out and scratch some very funny ears. Then I found on her paw one day a lump and my vet took an xray and told me she had bone cancer. He set up an appointment with me at the UNC Veterinary Hospital in Fort Collins. They examined Toast and told me that the best course was to amputate her leg. They have excellent medicines there for treating cancer (MUCH better than an ordinary vet has access to), and I went ahead. Dogs, by the way, as explained by the UNC vet, do VERY well with only 3 legs, and they have even had happy bouncy dogs with only TWO legs! But anyway, Toast lost her front right paw, but I'm happy to say she was quickly back to her normal self -- and was chasing squirrels and cats (never tried to catch one though). I had her company for another 18 months, and I'm happy to say that she was not really in pain even at the end, when the cancer recurred. My Nederland Vet (Joe Evans) treated her with a daily injection which I gave her and she really seemed to recover. But one night, at about 4am, she had something like a stroke, and she passed away in my arms.

I don't regret one minute of her life, even at the end when I was taking care of her (she had an accident or two which I had to clean up after!) daily. And I don't regret at all not putting her down. She was not in pain as far as I could tell, and she was bouncy and bright right up to her last day.

Don't ever let anyone tell you pets are not fully members of the family. I still to this day (3 years later) miss her dearly and even dream of her. A better friend or more faithful companion would be hard to imagine. (by the way, I found out many years ago that wives and computers don't seem to mix!)

Anyway, this is the story of Toast. I hope you enjoyed it, and perhaps it tells you something about me as well!


Craig Baker.