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Posts Tagged ‘Appalachian Porch Hound Post Script’

In Memoriam: CMH Tobias One Year After (The Story of our Greatest Adventure)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 25, 2019

(This is food related, Toby and I had many food based adventures together and he is the only life form on the planet that could steal an Oh! Betty’s Hot dog or Donald’s Donut from me and not face my avenging wrath).

A year ago today at 1:44 PM my most loyal and best friend passed on. I posted about it that day. I miss Toby, very, very much. I still have many memories of our times together. Our very best adventure was an epic road trip around the country in 2010. I never got around to writing about the trip in detail. The day after his passing, I copied and collated all of the tweets from our adventure. It was a good way to reflect on one of our best times while adjusting to his absence from my life. It also gave me some focus as I tried to deal with my grief. To balance out the hurt of our toughest time together, I share a story of our best!

The first day after he was gone was the hardest. After 14 plus years together – all of the background routines of our life together were gone: waking up, feeding Toby breakfast, letting Toby outside, going for a walk… daily rituals that had been on autopilot forever. When I was home, he was my satellite usually within ten feet of me anywhere in the house. It was his job to finish any near empty yogurt cup I had. It was his job to clean plates and later the floor when CMH Griffin came into our lives. I could not leave the house without telling him (A) “be back in a little bit” or (B) “going to work” so he could determine if he was going to (A) nap or (B) sleep for eight to ten hours. I knew he would be at the door waiting for me every time I came home. After he was gone, the first time I came home and he was not there – was the most painful moment of his loss. Even when I was not doing something with him, he was always the background noise in my life. As someone who worked at home during Toby’s last 5 years I was now truly working alone everyday. We created a silent rhythm and low hum together and now there was only silence. Adjusting was hard, I did not have to save plastic bags for scooping poop, food scraps became scraps not mealtime supplements. His hair was still everywhere and several tenacious strains are still embedded in odd places today.


In April 2010, at the very start of the darkest period of my life, I decided to take a Travels with Charley style trip across the county with my beloved porchhound Tobias J. Dog. While we had been on several in state adventures I was not sure how he would hold up to the rigors of a multiple week cross-country adventure. I did a lot of preparation for the both of us. I created a special area in the passenger area of my beloved 1998 Subaru Impreza Outback (I was also not sure how well it would hold up either) for Toby. This set up would allow Toby to sleep and have an area to sit instead of rolling around the car. This included a gigantic sleeping bag to fill in the leg spaces between the driver and front passenger seats and the back passenger seats. Also in this configuration were two bungee cords connecting the headrest bars of the two front seats to create a barrier between the driver’s area (mine) and the passenger compartment (Toby) area. This worked most of the time. Toby frequently had his head mounted on the center armrest so he could watch me and what was coming via the front window throughout much of the trip. The cargo area in the back was stocked with a tent, dog food, snacks, rawhides, water, etc., to sustain us for at least two weeks. I also had a national hotel guide for Motel 6 which allows dogs to stay for free. I had some goals: spend a lot of time with Toby (23/24 – 7), visit all the fly over states I had missed, visit four eateries that had been on my list at least a decade, explore any park or roadside oddity that struck our fancy and have fun. We did not have a set itinerary just a rough route and a determination to never double-back along the way. I had plenty of maps, an atlas and printed sheets of information on parks, restaurants, and etc., to guide us on our quest. It was one of the best experiences of my life and it is one of my greatest of Toby memories. My schedule rarely allowed me to spend the amount of time Toby deserved to have with me so this trip was part of an amends to him for the time I has missed with him during our relationship to that date.

The story of our greatest adventure was recorded via Tweet. I created a twitter account – @CMHTobias for Toby to serve as a a play by play account of our adventure.

Below are twitter notes of our trip with some of the the best of the photos interspersed.

This was the description on the CMHTobias account.

I am an Appalachian Porch Hound. I go on road trips with CMH Gourmand. He drives, I dictate the tweets and we both eat.

Tweets: 263 Following: 7 Followers: 81

Our adventures were announced April 25th 2010.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 25 Apr 2010
I have been told that I will be traveling around the USA for two plus weeks. Response: Pant, Pant Tail wag.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 14 May 2010

Does Toby want to go – yes – he jumped a 5 foot fence to get into the car while I was packing…

Ipods and magnets don’t mix. Glad I checked the ipod before I left – looks like we will be going to the Apple store in Memphis today… FRAK

Leaving right now – Adios Columbus….and ipod.

Hey we are back getting the charger for the laptop. Let’s try this again. Restarting the mileage counter.

If confused in text CG = @CMHGourmand and CT = CMH Tobias…CT barks “go already!!”

Sign on road says Hell is Real. So is the horrible gas I am having in the car this morning.

Two lessons so far: trackpants are not good for drying hands. KY is not OH.

Now taking requests after cabaret versions of I Can’t Drive 55, Take It Easy, WKRP in Cinn, and BJ and The Bear theme.

@racheltayse um clarification we alternate driving and tweeting Toby has amazing paws

There are Kangaroos in KY. I think they should stick with bourbon. Nashville in sight.

Road sign says Fireworks and Beer. I wonder how close the ER is?

(Travel Notes for May 14th). It was a horrible downpour from Cincinnati to Memphis. Traffic was so bad that I got off at a random stop for BBQ and for both of us to pee. In Memphis, my first stop was an Apple store to try to fix my I Pod but since the power was down, there was little they could do, so I bought a new one. It took me about 30 minutes driving in circles to get to our hotel. It was a long day. Toby was excited to stay at the hotel. I had to leave him there while I went on a food run.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 15 May 2010

CT milestone: marked territory in three states: OH, KY and TN.

Motel 6 in downtown Memphis – dogs stay free. Worst towels and pillows in the history of accommodation. Glad I packed my own

Short story: 30 GB iPod is dead Jim. New emergency nano loaded for the road. Less than ideal Apple Store service but apple ntwk is down

Long story if the network was up could have made an appt in Oklahoma city on Sun to get-if in stock-30 gb iPod for $137 or 10% off replacement

Last night rain and ride of the Valkeries style lighting but we stopped to enjoy BBQ at Charlie (RIP) Vergos Rendevous and Gus’s Fried Chicken

CT ate bacon in Graceland’s parking lot to honor Elvis. On to Little Rock.

Left Toltec Mounds State Park and now near the Little Rock Farmers Mkt waiting for the Flying Fish to open for Po’ Boy per Chef Garms rec.

(Note: Chef Drew Garms did great work at Details in the Short North in 2009 and he gave me some good road food suggestions)

BBQ Shrimp Po Boy at Flying Fish was awesome capped with a Boulevard Bread Co chocolate chip cookie

Riverwalk area in Little Rock is incredible. CG likes the mixed use smart design, CT likes the dog water fountains.

RT @cmhgourmand Alma, AR – Spinach Capital of the World. And big Popeye billboard. Oops identity crisis

Billboard says “Roland is thinking about Arby’s. Roland, Oklahoma not our @Roland3k

Lil snack at Robertson’s Hams #4, 50 miles east of OKC-dress your own ham sandwich with homemade sauces, jerky, jalepeno sausage frakin good

At Sid’s Diner for an onion burger; suggested by George@Motzburger Motz, Chef Drew Garms and the two El Reno Police cars out front.

The Sids burger topped with homemade slaw was one of the greatest burgers of my life, owners and staff were the best!

Intersection of Garth Brooks Ave and Route 66 – can’t be more heartland America than that.

I think that owning and driving a Subaru might be illegal in these parts….it was made in Indiana OK nice Oklahoma pick-up drivers.

CG: Traveling with a Tobias is 1000x easier than traveling with a child or most people.

New addition to the team a plastic pink hippo found on the road in Arkansas (Note: I gave this to a co-worker when I got back)

@cmhgourmand & @cmhtobias = roadweary roadwarriors, 1239 miles in 36 hours.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 16 May 2010
CT: New Benchmark – Marked Territory in 4 states: TN, MS, AR and OK. Dog tired now.

Replying to @elrenoburgerday
@elrenoburgerday beyond awesome!

A dog is a mans best friend, a boy and his dog, get your paws off that = inspired by 1000’s of yrs of human canine relations & road trips

The mementos on the fence at the Oklahoma City National Memorial are the most moving part of the site. 😦

OKC is way underrated, we like: medians with trees, river trail with dog friendly walks, the historic heritage area-great houses and FOOD!

(Note): I did eat at Chef Drew’s Restaurant in OKC but did not connect with him there other than by text.

Drinking a beer at Bricktown Brewery in OKC, phone tag with Chef Drew Garms, he sends his regards to Columbus.

The Vietnamese hostess at Sand Hill Winery has marketing persistence that would put anyone to shame-sold me a bottle of wine in 2 min

@Hungry_Woolf I am ashamed to go into detail but it was best to give up early or she would have sold me two cases

Motel 6 in OKC on 44th was a great value, the slightly chewed rawhide CT forgot was not a good tip.

Saw on the road many, many OK wildflowers, the worlds largest cross, near Groom, TX, and the Jesus is Savior Travel Center and gas station.

Passed by a large wind farm in OK, looks as good or better than other towers. If an oil state can do wind then why not Ohio.

After 200 miles of signs that said “free 72 ounce steak” at the Big Texan we are eating at Deyers BBQ in Amarillo instead. Think CT wanted steak.

CT on dog food hunger strike so late night taco truck run for mulitas with cabeza (head) and masisas (cheek) due to @cmhgourmand influence

@SlowFoodCMH but @cmhgourmand is trying to make me eat dogfood. 😦

The shower unit at the Amarillo Motel 6 is so compact, efficient and sleek it must have been designed by NASA or the midget div. of IKEA.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 17 May 2010

We are now in mountain time. Hola New Mexico.

Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa, NM is cool even for a non car nerd. Bozo’s Garage is famous for restorations inc. lime green 74 Gremlin

Here I am:,-106.609025
Catching up on tweets at Two Fools Tavern in Albuquerque, NM drinking a Monks (From Abbey Brewing Co.
(Note: coordinates which appears above are for the restaurant which is now closed)

Backtrack: in OK randomly drove down Ellison Ave/St in EL Reno and OKC…I reckon some of us kept moving when the ox cart broke.

WOW moment of the day the vista looking towards Santa Fe on 285 and I had the road to myself.

Santa Fe will be base of operations for a while. Going to Farmers Mkt and Taos via some wineries tomorrow.

(Note: because we both needed a break, we spent two days in Santa Fe)

In honor of nerd night I listened to Eugene Sledge on The Costs of War courtesy of iTunes U.

(Note: Nerd Night is a group of people who get together to watch a show on Monday nights. At the time we were watching The Pacific about Marines in WW2)

The iPod Nano is a bit unwieldy on my old Belkin car adaptor but it works. It would have been a long ass trip with out my music & podcasts

radio stations out here scare me, maybe I don’t pay attention at home – Is over 1/2 the USA crazy, angry & afraid of not having the right god?

@Belkin and how! If you can use you vast resources to legislate a national frequency just for my iPod I would be obliged.

There was an Ellison Ave in Albuquerque too, is there a family secret I was not told.

We went to Petroglyph National Monument this afternoon. The Ranger gave CT 4 dog biscuits. Then we went to the dog park down the street.

Wish we could stay in Santa Fe until May 22 for the three-minute film festival.

@SlowFoodCMH negative the Heavener runestone a few states back…well that is another story

@SlowFoodCMH um you want me to record myself getting shamefully bloated and drunk, see the earlier responses

Reading a good story by @eating_wrong about the New Mexico Beef Council’s gate to plate tour. Seeing the meat cycle can change things.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 18 May 2010

Stopped at Clines Corners travel center yesterday, home of the “worlds best fudge”, CT loved the peanut butter fudge.

The staff at Clines Corners are incredibly diverse, from all over the world, I enjoyed speaking with my server from South Africa.

So many people are interested in getting a Tobias we have formed the Appalachian Porch Hound Preservation League, @cmhtobias president

(Note: Everywhere we would go, people would ask about what type of dog Toby was and where they could get one – as some of you know, he was truly one of a kind).

Motel 6 is the hotel of the proletariat, these are the “American People” pundits keep speaking of, diff. is I really meet & speak with em.

Trying Yak chili, goat milk squeaky curds, marinated goat milk Feta, and a got a tamale for CT at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

Sign says “candy, ice cream, beef jerky”, CT says stop.

@trx0x yak meat rocks! Better than Bison and rivals goat.

CG second Wow, vista in RT 68 from Dixon into Taos, NM, CT first bow-wow swimming in the Rio Grande River Gorge on the way back!

Dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery in Santa Fe sampling: 7 of their micro brews, Diablo Margarita, chips with fiery salsa, & platter

Tequila Diablo Margarita: four white liquors, gold tequila, lime juice and cranberry juice-16 oz Long Island Margarita

En route to Taos: Chiripada Winery the first in NM, good wines spoke with the owner as he was rebricking the floor.

At @Vivacwinery in the am, they have good wines-86 and 88 in wine Enthusiast, a few awards and some incredible homemade chocolates

Lunch: Michaels Kitchen & Bakery, a Taos institution since 1974, wish I had gotten the atole pancakes with blue corn flour saw that too late

CT had the kiddie burger at Blakes Lotaburger, 75 locations in NM, there are independent burger joints everywhere.

Blue Corn Beer Flight: honey wheat, blonde, Atalaya Amber, RdRunner IPA, End of Trl Brown Ale, Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Cask Ale, Sp Bitter

CT wow dos: Pablos chipotle and green chile beef jerky-like canine crack. At SR 503 and 68 between Taos and Santa Fe. Eat local, eat often.

Tomorrow Greenchile Cheeseburger at Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe then off to Utah.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 19 May 2010

At Real Food Nation just outside Santa Fe, this is a Slow Fooders dream restaurant, great staff.

Taos was a hardcore, hippy hitchhiker Mecca, they were everywhere, we have not picked one up yet we are always going in the wrong direction.

As the Real Food Nation folks say: vote with your fork! CT liked the tofu and free range eggs.

As it turns out Chef Kim Muller at Real Food Nation is also the Slow Food Santa Fe president so I saw the kitchen, farm, and garden.

Now at Bobcat Bite for their world-famous green cheese burger, it is 1 mile from Real Food Nation.

The view from the counter at Bobcat is great! I can see trees, mountains and the almost done bird bath. Regular customers are real nice.

The parking lot of Bobcat Bite has lizards, CT almost caught two.

So long Route 66, we are glad so many people are preserving the heritage of this highway. If anyone sees the hubcap we lost it is a donation

Took 550 to Aztec ruins in Aztec, NM, now off to Utah.

View on 491 in NM and CO was incredible, I could see for what seemed like 100’s of miles. We are staying in Monticello UT, ran short of Moab.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 20 May 2010

We had a late dinner at Tacotime a small chain where each location makes their own tortillas, etc. Supplemented with @Realfoodnation leftovers

NM was the first place that felt really different: landscape, attitude, pace. Like terrior influences wine, land shapes people.

Things I do on the road that I don’t do at home: sport a ball cap, wear trackpants (I make fun of those people), sing, enjoy driving

Aligned ourselves with a pair of French Bon Femme Cougars in Moab, they were smitten with CT but CG said @cmhtobias is priceless-can’t have.

Moab is booked, no room at the inn or camp for CT. Sign at the Moab Visitor Ctr lists places to shower. People are camping in their cars

My Dirty Franks shirt is a great conversation starter, I have talked at least one person into visiting.

I was mistaken a for Alton Brown twice today. If Food Network wants me, my show is: Around the World in Eighty Meals.

Sign on the road: Old Menu, New Waitresses

iPoding Mountain Stage podcasts for 1st time. The Hooters did a great cover of Boys of Summer. Now more convinced Neko Case & I are fated

Arches National Park was great, we beat the rush and CG got two 5 minute hikes in while CT was being spoiled and lizard hunting.

Happiness: When you have about 30 miles of gas left and the next town is 25 miles away.

I keep seeing this name all over the NM and UT: Kokopelli. Who are these prolific people.

Steinbeck called his mode of transport Rocinante. We have dubbed our 98 Subaru Impreza Outback – Roo, (The Insect Slayer).

Lost another hubcap. Took the last two off, now instead of looking like an east coast greenhorn, the car and I look like rugged drifters.

Late dinner at SLC icon, Moochies Meatballs and More Had Atomic Meatball sandwich with handmade Feta and a Philly cheesesteak-awesome

Took CT on a walk at Liberty Park. CT Law of Attraction: any body of water: mud puddle, fountain, pond, etc. will attract a Tobias.

LOVE SLC: hippy chicks galore, light rail, tree lined streets, great food scene, 2 well written indie weeklies, mtns. SLC had me at hippie.

@itinerantfoodie there are abandoned couches lining the streets of SLC….these folks are all right.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 21 May 2010

Open all of 10 days, I found myself at Epic Brewing to try their Brainless Belgian Golden Ale. Good stuff.

The organizational zealot in me loves the grid street system of SLC. Tomorrow 300 East, 300 South for baked goods.

Multiple attempts by CT to enter the cockpit area from the crewcabin today. CG is consulting with Homeland Security for tomorrows drive.

After a walk in Pioneer Park, doing bakery research: Gourmandise and Carlucci’s.

@AmandyAnderson CT liked Carlucci’s cookies the best. Both bakeries were exceptional.

Visited the aviation museum at Hall Air Force Base outside SLC.

Lunching at Johnny B. Goode’s in Pocatello, ID. Steak Fingers with tater tots and peanut butter milkshake to share with CT.

Best peanut butter shake ever.

Refused an offer to buy my @surlygirlsaloon “Bacon is the new black t-shirt. I need all the clean clothes I have at this point.

Also at Johnny B. Goode’s: Iron Port a pre carbonation soda mixed by hand. Fry sauce a mix of ketchup and mayo, an ID icon.

@tgoodnight wish we had time to go NW, we are aiming for Jackson tonight and Grand Teton tomorrow.

Here I am:,-112.045918
Note: 500 Lindsay Blvd, Idaho Falls

CT almost caught a snake snack on the Snake River.

Cool name: Psychedelicatessen.

Uh oh, in Jackson Hole. CG has fallen in with a pack of Australians at the wine bar.

Another restaurant name: Ante pas Thai. I don’t make em up.

@SlowFoodCMH they worry about stealing their beers, though once again the international sensation of CT is amazing. He goes to Oz if I go.

Now dining at Mountain High Pie – Thai pie: seasame sauce, mozzarella, chicken, green onions, cabbage, cilantro, carrots and peanuts. (pizza)

Washing down with a Grand Teton Brewing Co Workhorse wheat ale.

Snow in Jackson Hole – no camping tonight. Another night in our euro/Ikea styled Motel 6 with NASA designed shower, this rocks for $50.

CT would like the thank Motel 6 in SLC for the welcome pack-biscuits and a rawhide as well as the rangers at Arches for the treats.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 22 May 2010

CT sleeping in the car. CG braving a dangerous whiteout at Jenny Lake in the Tetons, heading back to the boat dock like a wimp.

CT not sure if an Elk is a wild beast or a very large Tobias. Not sticking around to find out.

@JennyBrodie Snow and a brief window of microhail. The boat ride back was “refreshing!”

CT is a huge fan of Elk Jerky. The clerk at the Buffalo Meat Co is from Maldavia as is desk clerk at my motel. Turns out they are roomies.

Tonight one of us dines at Sweetwater Restaurant in Jackson Hole & then searches for local microbrews while the other searches for varmints.

Beat the crowd to Sweetwater: starting with homemade bread, beef barley soup.

Sweetwater cocktail: sweettea infused vodka, homemade lemonade,
a splash of Sprite, and a homemade candy cane to stir: make that a double

Sweetwater: next course, Buffalo slider with sage au jus.

Now eating Elk Ossobucco perfectly paired with garlic mashed potatoes and green chile mac and cheese. Survey says: all awesome.

Carry out desserts from Sweetwater, for CT-Elk bone, for CG bread pudding. Food coma has begun.

The sun finally came out so we are at Phil Baux Park playing with some Wyoming Porch Hounds.

Weather looks better today, off to Yellowstone.

Yesterday we stocked up on baked goods at The Bunnery.

Some roads closed at Yellowstone but the snow makes for a nice glaze on every thing. CT is obsessed with Elk.

Here I am:,-110.791435 Old Faithful.

Famous duos in the parks: Yogi and Booboo, Shaggy and Scooby, & @cmhgourmand and @cmhtobias

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 23 May 2010

CG Native American name: Dances with Dogs.

@Morningglorycof CG Native American name: Dances with Dogs. Alas missed you.

Yes Charley (Travels with Charlie) was obsessed with Moose. It seems that CT is also enamoured with horses, he wants to eat Elk and woo horses

Take a wrong turn in Wyoming and it will take about 30 minutes to diagnose and 30+ minutes to fix.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 24 May 2010

Late dining at Montana Brewing Company in Billings, Montana. Like that they have old school board games in the bar.

CT is worn out. His m.o. At home is sleeping 16 hours+ per day not being awake the whole time on this whole trip.

Wretched weather: hrs of heavy rain (6 in), fog, winds up to 45 mi per hr, tornado watches, Flood warnings. Things that make me say frak.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 25 May 2010
Breakfast: Fry bread Indian Taco. Fry bread is like an elephant ear but not sweet.

Rain also let up in Broadus Montana long enough for CT to take a big run in the town park. Sheriff clocked him at 25 mph.

Drive to the Black Hills wiped out CG. Stopped at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City for a refresher and snack.

When the sun came out, the wind picked up to 45 MPH.

Saw the Crazy Horse Memorial. CG has wanted to see it since it was on Real People. Who remembers that show.

The Black Hills are a playground – nature, good diners, wineries, good hikes, and more.

There were only 50 people at Mount Rushmore – I guess everyone else heard about the flood warning….opps.

Took a stroll with CT in downtown Rapid City, SD. Pretty cool downtown with statues of the presidents on each corner.

Had a snack at the Firehouse Brewery in downtown Rapid City. Good beer, average food. Great Atmosphere.

Sorry to be a twitter sh*tter, no internet access today. Expect the same tomorrow. Our mission, find a Runza.

Yesterdays lost tweet. Big Rain in Big Sky Country. At least Roo is not encased in mud any more.

@madisonjps Thanks. Would have enjoyed speaking with you some more but I had to pee really bad after the boat ride : ). (Note: people I met at The Park on the freezing boat ride)

Badlands was serene today and SUNNY! CT almost snatched a Prairie Dog gal pal.

Now in Valentine, Nebraska.

CT with combo car cabin fever and car sickness-multiple Kamakazie attacks from crew cabin to cockpit today. Car went into neutral twice.

CT won the car wars and rode shotgun for the rest of the morning.

You can have NPR or iPhone coverage not both. Radio off, Cowboy Junkies on.

Runza: kind of like a White Castle Hot Pocket.

Car exterior: 35% mud, 41% bug parts, 14% road grit, 10% parts of car I have lost.

I thought I hit a bird 5 or 6 states ago…. Looks like that was the case, nasty. : (
(Note: found it embedded in the grill of the car)

Interior of car: aroma is what I call essence of APH, with faint scents of rawhide and mud.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 26 May 2010

I was told that Yia Yia’s Pizza on “O” Street in Lincoln, Nebraska was great gourmet pie, I was told right. Hipster heaven hangout.

One of CG’s favorite books is My Antonia by Willa Cather. Driving through Nebraska today hitting some of those spots.

If the role of Ohio was being cast for a movie, Nebraska could get the part.

Battle of Wills: while driving today CT made a second foray into the cockpit – while going 75 on 218, CG had CT in a headlock for 30 minutes.

New anti Tobias/Terrorist cockpit defense system being tested out in Roo today. Maybe an extra bungee cord will do it.

Comment to hotel guest terrified of Tobias: “He would hurt a flea, squirrel, or any varmint, but you are safe if you carry no ice cream.”

Nebraska History Museum is really good. The World War II at home exhibit was exceptional.

Lunch at Oso Burrito on O Street. Good Thai Peanut Burrito, great Sioux City Root Beer with cane sugar.

We are driving part of the Lewis and Clark Trail in Kansas.

Not surprising: CG’s uncle served time at Levenworth for arms smuggling. Surprising: He escaped. Just drove by the prison.

ToTobias we’re not in Kansas anymore.

CG: 1st food book I read was by Calvin Trillin. He said Arthur Bryant’s BBQ is the best BBQ & best Rest. in USA. After 15 yes, I am here. (Kansas City, MO)

@CMHTobias,-94.444050 we found a Paw Paw tree while walking at Henry Clay Kritzer Park.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 27 May 2010

Departing KC for CMH

KCLC in St Lo is great radio.

Entering IL.
After significant debate, CT will be in the passenger seat for the rest of the trip, his smile of victory is a bit obnoxious.

Hello IN. CT has resumed hostilities, this time….GAS. : (

ETA for Tobias 6:30 PM, may do a dinner stop in West Jefferson or Los Potosinos.

We picked: Ann & Tony’s Italian comfort food. (West Jefferson OH)

Stats: drove 5933 miles, 16 states (CT marked territory in each), 14 days, 5 national parks, 2 lost hubcaps (NM, UT), avg cost 108 per day.

Tobias J. Dog‏ @CMHTobias 2 Jun 2010
Final epic trip thought: what CT needed fit in a copy paper box; what CG needed fit in the trunk. Simple is best.

Our route included these states (in rough order): Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi (for about 25 minutes), Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and back to Ohio. We drove from Kansas City to Columbus in about 12 to 13 hours. For whatever reason, CMH Tobias was really ready to go home by the time we got to Kansas City so instead of taking the slow road home we moved with a great focus. I should also mention, I had the Subaru from February 1998 to December 2012 and I really loved that car too, it still has a lot of life left when I sold it. I hope that someday I can take a trip like this with my son so that he has a chance to have similar memories with me.

NOTE: Our next trip was to Marietta OH for a BBQ Festival just a short time later – here are some of the memories from that:

Next adventure is to Marietta on June 11 & 12 to judge for the Brick Street BBQ contest. CT staying in a historic hotel eating leftovers

CT is not sure about elevators but he is certain he is the most popular dog at the Lafayette Hotel. This dog is an attention magnet.

Judging is done. CG is bloated and disoriented. CT is wondering why there is only 1 1/2 lbs of BBQ scraps to consume (took 45 seconds).

Stopping at Donalds Donuts in Zanesville on the way home. Might be the best donuts in Ohio. Donut or Doughnut that is the question.

Why was it so quiet in the back while I got gas? CT was eating the donuts. He got 3 including my favorite.

Translated from dogspeak: donuts are the new squirrels.

Epilogue: I compiled all of this in the 48 hours after Tobias passed. To say I was heavy-hearted would be an understatement. Doing this gave me something to focus on about our time together. The giant green sleeping bag you see in some of the photos was used on many of our trips together. For our last night, I unrolled it so we could sleep together one last time. Then I moved it to the living room while we waited for the vet to come to our home. It gave him a sense of comfort and familiarity as I held him while he passed. I no longer have the bag since it was shared ownership and because a lifetime of cleaning would never remove the dog hair from it. Today, when I do get to hit the road, which is not often, a little bit of him remains with me. Even though I clean my car regularly, some of his velcro like hair continues to turn up in unlikely places. So as long as I have my Subaru, I’ll have Toby with me. (My last Subaru served me over 14 years and I’ve only had my current one a few years). A year later, a big hole remains in my heart, I miss Toby dearly and have thought of him each day. As the months progressed on the reminders decreased – there was less dog hair when I swept and in the dryer lint trap. The area of grass that he killed with his toxic pee in the last months grew back after a lot of work by the following spring. I gaze at the box with his ashes everyday I am in my office. I still feel the loss. If the thoughts go dark I lighten up thinking of our cross-country adventure and find some joy knowing some of his adventures will live on here.

Post Script: A Dog and his Boy and the Boy’s Little

In April of this year we moved to a new house. I said goodbye to the the small amount of ashes I left in the backyard of our old house. On my last afternoon there, I took the wooden box that holds the bulk of his ashes and set it on the back porch rail so his spirit could sunbathe in one of his favorite spots a final time. As I cleaned the old house before leaving I would find Toby hairs in unusual spaces. For each one, I took it outside and made sure it was in the sun instead of a trash bag. As we adapted to our new house which has much less square footage I continue to find Toby hairs intertwined in the threads of old clothes I was purging and placing in the donation pile. Each one of his hairs was safely escorted to the back yard so they can become a part of our new home and “Toby” can feel the sun on a good day. I’m sure I looked odd to the neighbors as I would walk out of the door solemnly holding something they could not see, placing it on the ground like the most delicate and precious item in the world and then pausing for a few words or a flashback of a memory before I went back into the house.

When CMH Tobias passed I was concerned about how it would register with my son, CMH Griffin. The passing occurred while he was at daycare as was the plan. I did not tell him what was happening. He did pet Toby and say “bye Toby Dog” when my wife took him to daycare that morning (and I was trying not to weep because I knew I would be saying good bye in a different way in less than five hours). The absence of Toby did not really register with Griffin. At the end of the week, Griffin “borrowed” my cell phone which has a screen image of Toby on it. When he saw the image he said – “theres Toby Dog. Hi Toby Dog”. We did not have to have the talk about Doggie Heaven, I was happy to sidestep that. Griffin was not old enough to have a deep connection with Toby but he had just enough to retain a memory. A year later, when Griffin looks at photos of dogs, he can tell the difference between A dog and THE Toby Dog. My hope is he will have a slim memory of Toby for the rest of his life but not so much that he will always have a sliver of hurt like I do.

Toby played an important role in Griffin’s development. During our last year with Toby, Griffin had significant speech and language delays which was a source of much duress for my wife and I. One of our first glimmers of hope when our struggle with Griffin’s speech and other issues were at the darkest moments was when Griffin said his first sentence, “Go away Toby Dog.” Toby was not a dog to me, he was my very best friend. Originally, he was not the dog I wanted but he was very much the dog I needed. In a small way, he continued his legacy by helping Griffin before he did indeed go away. Thank You Toby Dog. We Love You. You were a once in a lifetime porchhound. I’m more than OK with not having a dog in my life right now but not having my consistently inconsistent companion and best friend, that was also a porchhound is a loss I still feel.

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Toby and Me: Requiem for An Appalachian Porch Hound

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 25, 2018

I started writing this requiem in April of 2017, while watching Marley and Me (by accident) with Toby. I had read the book many years before. On this particular afternoon we were both home alone and I happened to flip channels just as the movie started….and I was sucked in. Looking over at Toby towards the end of the movie I knew that when the time came, I would be a wreck. That being the case, I decided to start on this post while we were still in the good times. When there were changes in our life together or if I was worried about him, I would come back to this post and tinker with it add in more details. It helped me focus on one thing – writing – instead of a dread of what was to come. There are less than a handful of things that could bring me to tears, the one sure thing is a dying dog. Especially, MY dog. My best friend and my most loyal associate – Tobias J. Dog. Readers encountered Toby many times here over the years….

I had too many chances to practice our end. Toby had a 1.5 pound tumor removed from his front leg and chest in January 2015. He barely survived that. I barely survived that. We both fought hard during his recovery to get him back to his prime form. He had a smaller tumor removed from his rear leg in August of 2015. Both times he had very bumpy convalescences. Toby does not do well with pain medications and he does not do well with being dependent. The same for me.

Our toughest challenge was December of 2016. After a two month stint of CMH Spouse and CMH Griffin being sick, I came home one Friday afternoon, looking forward to a house with no impaired inhabitants and an opportunity to catch up a gigantic backlog of work in my office. Instead, I found Toby lying in vomit on the floor having what looked like a seizure. I could see he was dying. I was not ready for that. It took about 3 hours to get into the vet, by that time, he was no longer rolling his eyes but could not walk.

As I carried him through the door I thought the odds of putting him down were against his favor. He had other plans. At the vet, I was told he had Old Dog Vestibular Disease, which mirrors a stroke. He was given some anti-nausea medication and a very poor prognosis. If I could get Toby to eat, he would probably live. If not, his stomach would twist and that would be that. Toby going an hour without wanting food was nearly unheard of, so I figured he would be back on track within a day. I was wrong. I spent the next several days carrying Toby outside to go to bathroom and helping him stay upright. During the night I slept with him on the floor or a couch to be ready to get him out the door when he needed it. When I went upstairs, Toby did not attempt to follow…. and that never happens – he is always in line of sight of me. That was a very bad sign. VERY BAD. I could always count on him being within five feet in most circumstances unless food, a fetching lass or a squirrel is nearby.

The bigger concern was food consumption. He would not eat. No ice cream. No steak. After a few days a bit of a hamburger. I did do some research and found a vet prescribed “crack-like” wet dog food that was considered a sure thing. Not quite (it smelled atrocious) but he ate some. After two days he started to get back on his feet like a drunken sailor. Then Toby decided that the wanted to go back to a steak only diet. (“Tobias, T-Bone does not stand for Toby bone”). That lasted a few more days. After two weeks he was back to about 85% of his old self and after a few months, 88%. He had taken a hit and the biggest damage was to his “irrational exuberance”. His back legs never got back to normal. Over the course of 2017, his hind legs started to fade due to old age and neurological damage. We saw the intensity of his many interests fade with one exception, he became even more of a food mooch. His ability to continually place himself in the path of CMH Spouse causing near fatal falls (daily) increased exponentially – increasing the likelihood of one accidental death (CMH Spouse) and one murder (CMH Tobias) ten-fold. As the year progressed we also saw a 420% increase in Bambi slides on any non carpeted surface and non-controlled falls down stairs. For me, barely accepting my own ungraceful aging, facing Toby’s mortality daily was increasingly demoralizing. While his mind and spirit were still strong his self-sufficiency and rock solid self-esteem was in a rapid decline.

As 2018 progressed we added daily pooping inside the house, often twice per day, sometimes thrice. The year 2018 has been an absolutely painful year for our family and the decline of my old friend was draining in many ways. Some days, I just hoped Toby would die soon. I did not want hime gone but it was painful to experience him descending into decrepitness. I felt guilty about my thoughts but it was hard to see him suffer while my heart and soul were running on fumes for related and unrelated reasons. The daily addition of poop to scoop inside our house combined with daily carpet cleaning usually right after I let him back inside or when returning from a five-minute walk was demoralizing to both of us. On occasion, I found him trying to eat the evidence. He could not stand or walk on our wood or tile floors so we kept adding more and more rugs to each of the rooms so he could move around the house without wiping out. We had a vet visit in February which showed a major increase in negative liver and kidney values and a decline in his neurological function in his hind quarters. There was a pretty good chance either of this ailments could be related to a tumor of some sort. As I talked about the struggles in our household some people told me to just put Toby down (the vet never suggested that). I knew his time was limited and I was waiting for a sign that he was ready or that it was the right time. In the back of my mind, I was hoping he could make it to his sixteenth birthday (120 in dog years) which was either March or May. His mind and spirit were still there but we were watching his body rapidly declining. He never expressed any pain and any trial of pain medication seemed to make him worse. He could half-heartily wag his tag and never at full arch. His tail was no longer the constantly curled, spring-like whip of his first 15 years. I noticed that he did not bark any more and vocalized less…but his eyes were bright and his “smile” was often wide. At night, with a lot of effort, he would find a way to make sure he was touching a part of me with part of him.

In May of 2018, we got to the point where he could not meander upstairs on his own, without falling back to the bottom four times. He could not travel down the stairs with any controlled direction. Then he could not sleep without falling off the bed several times. After two weeks of sleep deprivation, a child with croup twice, me with pneumonia and having stepped in poop at least three times, it was time for a dreaded change. At the end of May, he was exiled to sleeping in my first floor office at night. The door is mostly glass so I could see his face reflect the absolute betrayal he felt. After fourteen plus years of devoted loyalty: sleeping with me most of that time while enduring girlfriends, my extended disappearances to the antipodes, a wife that came with her own dog and then a child with an aptitude for stepping on him like a cushion – I had finally failed the pact of our pack. The year 2018 (so far) has been among my lowest of years, this moment of first exiling him in the office was the nadir of nadirs. My greatest best friend had decompensated from the epitome of vigor and the supreme example of the finest Appalachian Porch Hound of our era to an Appalling Poop Hound. There was nothing I could do to slow or stop the decline. And I had nothing left in me to fight it or to fight hard for him. As we entered June, he had two more vestibular attacks which lasted hours instead of days. He somehow rebounded slightly better than before each time and he had some semi-OK days. On some days it looked like he might rally for a run at 2019, on other days not so much. Through all of this he was still the greatest food mooch of all time. Over the last year he had dropped from 66 to 57 pounds but could still eat all day if allowed….and he tried.

But let’s journey back to the beginning before detailing the end. Born in March or May 2002, I know little about his first 18 months of life. I do know he was in at least eight foster homes before we crossed paths. I know he is was a non graduate of the Chillicothe Correctional Center’s Dog socialization program. I know he had a serial adopter named T****** (name hidden to protect her stupidity) that went back and forth on committing to him as a long-term dog and at one point had a boyfriend determined to transform Toby into a spike collared fighter. Throughout 2003, a co-worker pestered me about adopting this dog. He was in bad straits. No one would take him. I saw a photo of him in his spiked collar looking like a beast and gave a firm thumbs down. He was too big and a brute. I did not have time for a dog between work, graduate school, freelance writing, traveling and the occasional girlfriend, I was not home long enough to socialize anything, including myself on more than a few occasions. By February of 2004, I had finished school and was in between projects so I finally relented to foster Toby for two weeks. I would give his current foster a short break and could test the idea of sharing my living space with another creature (human or canine).

On a Friday night of President’s Day weekend (3 day weekend for me as a government drone), he walked into my house as if he owned it. I had a dog crate from a previous shared custody canine, a few hand me down dog items and an open mind. I discovered that what I had been told – he can’t be walked was largely true. I discovered this by having him pull, tug and generally drag me down my street with the strength of a full dog sled team. After a couple of weeks, it turned into a controlled drag with an occasional yanking out of my arm sockets. On our first night together, he crated without incident then proceeded to cry non stop for two hours. When I let him out, he pretended to head for the kitchen to get a drink then did a 180 and ran at high-speed before vaulting 5 feet high and 10-12 feet long to land in the middle of my bed. Once he spot was secure, he refused to move. That was a routine we maintained for the better part of our time together. Some nights I would hear the run, then a whoosh in the air and wait for him to land sprawled out next to me, mostly missing my body by 1/2 millimeter or less.

After the previous foster opted to extend to two week “break” to disappearing, I found myself with a long-term foster dog. I set about going to as many dog adoption events as I could take Toby to find him a proper home. Each was a disaster. He was so excited to be in those environments. He would tug, bark, whine and generally act like an enhanced version of the spirited freak he is. On only one occasion did he calm down. A woman walked toward us that must have looked similar to someone in his past because he instantly sat still and behaved in a very calm manner with only a slightly panting tongue and very big smile. I was certain she must be a long-lost owner. I was sure she was a perfect fit for him, something that could finally tame this savage beast. But she just looked (I was acting well-behaved too and maybe a bit puppy eyed) at both of us, made a face and could not get away from both of us fast enough. In my mind I thought she mouthed freak(s). We shared that rejection together which completed our bond. I was still determined to find his “real” home with someone who was home much more often than me and ideally had a child or ten to burn off some of his boundless energies.

Things did not get much better from there. I took him to an area of the park where dog owners hung out for bonding and socializing. Some dude with a giant dog started yelling – “get that Pit Bull away from here”. I looked around trying to find where the offending dog was and watched the dog in my custody running to the fray. When I retrieved Toby, I had a few choice words with this guy. This would not be the first time or the last time Toby was labeled a pit bull.

I then set Toby up with a perfect foster match. I was going to Europe for a couple of weeks and had a co-worker with acres of property and two playful dogs. I asked if Toby could stay with them while I was gone, and in the hour I stayed with them after Toby was dropped off I watched him run and play with his tongue hanging out non stop. He was in dog heaven and I pulled aways with a light heart and a smile on my face. When I returned stateside I called to check up on him (wanting to know when I should bring the rest of his things and seal the deal) and found out that while he was not a bother, he had “no personality” and I should probably come get him the next day. No personality! There are a lot of things this dog lacked: boundaries, obedience, any sense of pain, no limits to appetite, etc., but this dog was all personality.

Not long after, his previous foster asked for a week to have him back to try to “reconcile her mixed feelings” about keeping Toby. She seemed to like him and had another dog just like Toby but after a few days she asked if I could come back and get him because she was worried that he might have an expressed anal gland. WTF lady. This was also the foster whose boyfriend put a spiked collar on Toby and tried to turn him into a fighting dog. While he looks tough, the only thing this dog has ever been hardcore about is mooching. Bringing him home, I noticed no anal gland issues but I did some quick calculating and figured he was overdue for rabies and other vaccines and other needed check ups. The foster organization was out of money so I took him to a hospital that had treated him in the past. They had a few hand written records on him from one previous visit (he was neutered and had a minor surgery at the same time). The notes suggested him might be a Basenji and lab mix. Looking at the online information about that breed it seemed like a stretch but many years later when I found an audio file of a Basenji bark, I heard some similarity and found myself smirking. Toby has a very special, persistent, annoying bark that he uses when he is not getting something he wants, it was spot on to a Basenji.

At that point, doing some more calculation, I figured since I had this dog for over six months, his prospects were not looking good and mine were fading fast (the job I went to school for and wanted more than anything, was not going to happen). I was 2 points short on my immigration points paperwork to Australia and 5 points short for New Zealand. I called the foster person I could track down (they were beyond bankrupt) and told them I would consider my paid vet bill their adoption fees. Toby and I were finally legitimate.

Over time I realized we had a lot in common. We were both outcasts, misfits, misunderstood and always underestimated. Neither of use felt completely at ease as part of a pack or tribe. Toby and I were a pretty good fit.

Later on down the road, I decided to have his DNA tested to determine his true pedigree. When the vet called with the results, he was a bit embarrassed. He said the outcome we had did not happen often but Toby was inconclusive on every marker. He was sorry that I did not get a good return on my investment, but I was. Toby was a true Heinz 57 or by other words a bona fide Appalachian Porch Hound (Google that term and you will find most links lead to Tobias).

As time went on we had a good number of adventures, many of them road trips. Since I was gone from home for long periods of time, I often took him with me when I was out and about town. He loved to have his head out the window and when we got to our destination, he loved to run as fast as he could and as far as he could. Here are a few of our adventures as documented on this very blog.

Our two week road trip across America

The only dog in Columbus to have a beer named after him

Rockmill Brewery and a Dog Day Afternoon
(Note: while Matt and I were hiking, Toby in his bliss got too excited and tried to eat a small tree, while pulling it away from him, he scratched me and I have still a small scar on my hand to this day, that will always remind me our time there.

Important Research Work

If you dig through over twelve years of posts on this blog you will find a lot of mentions of Toby – often as a research assistant. For a dog that could not find a home, he certainly found many fans and even appeared in Columbus Monthly.

As a general rule I write about what I really, really like. He is like no other dog I have ever met. I would not describe him as a good dog, although he was not bad. I would never describe him as obedient but I rarely describe myself that way either. The most defining aspects to his “essence” for lack of a better term would be a profound spirit and a deep loyalty to me. I have always had low expectations for people and ultimately, if I look at my life to date, the thing I have prized (and wanted) the most in people and rarely found has been loyalty. I always had Toby’s loyalty, unless there was food to be stolen, but even I could respect that. If I get an ounce of loyalty I will give a pound back. When Toby and I were in West Virginia with my dad, on his last trip “to the hills” before heading to a new type of destruction in Honduras, we spent the night in a high-end cabin owned by a lifelong friend of my dad’s. We were surrounded by manly men. Toby was allowed in (although a “real dog” would have slept outside) but he had to stay in the kitchen. Come midnight when we all crawled into bed upstairs I started to hear the whimper on the kitchen. I knew who it was. It got louder and more frequent. I took a pillow and a sheet and slept next to that poor dog on the hard, cold tile floor until the good old boys found me there in the morning. And they watched the same dog then abandon me the second he heard a package of bacon open.

Toby played an important part in my life in many ways. Toby saved my life on one occasion, but that is a very, very long story with a lot of appendices, notations and more than a few theories so we will skip those details. Paying attention to how Toby felt about a few of my girlfriends could have saved me (and them) from misspent time. Toby was important in many more ways but the critical lesson was learning to share my space and having an opportunity to be accountable to someone other than myself. He gave me a lot when I gave him a home. The most important lessons I learned from my special needs dog were the skills I would need to help my special needs child as a human father.

I was glad that he was around to see me get married and to have some time with my son. I do wish CMH Griffin could have experienced CMH Tobias at his prime – they would have both been a true match for each other. I wish my boy could have fully experienced Toby as I did so he would have a template for a dog that would be a good fit for him or any boy with a curious disposition, thirst for adventure and general disdain of pack mentality. Toby lived long past his prime, probably out of loyalty to me. I did not want to wish for his death but I impatiently waited for it. Even when he was 14 1/2, he was still spry and vibrant and described by a vet as an “exceptional dog” (at least physically). He was and will always be, exceptional.

From November 2017 to today (I watched and hoped for him to decide it was time to go): his walks became shorter; he stopped running and/or showing interest in squirrels, (but could always rally for one good bark at a dog or cat); he slept in later. He lost more bits of his lifestyle. Starting in May 2018 he stopped trying to climb the steps and then he stopped trying to do a controlled fall down them. Then he stopped expecting to be carried upstairs to sleep. He stopped whimpering if he could not be in the same room as us….as me. He stopped ambling to the door when someone came home. Car rides were now a horror for him, not a treat. He lost the essentials to his life and our lives with him. His tail lost it’s spring like curl and whip like speed stopped wagging and shifted to a sag. However, he never stopped being a mooch. He lost most of what made him – Toby, but he only lost an ounce of his intense spirit and none of his loyalty.

As June began there were a few nights I was sure were his last. I stayed up as late as I could each night so he could go outside to pee or poop. As July, started to beckon, on a Friday afternoon his bladder started to fail and his hind legs increased their ineffective flailing. This could not go on, for either of us. He stopped wanting to walk farther than one pee and one sniff and even those were more out of habit than a need to mark territory. At this point he could linger on few weeks or maybe a month of existence or I could pick a day for his departure while a little bit of his essence was left and his spirit not completely broken. I decided we would put him down at home so he would not have to be stressed by a trip to the vet and have a hospital be his last sight and smell before passing. Also, I did not want him to bambi fall across the slick tile floor of the vet as his last act of living. As a family money is very tight for us right now but the cost of dying at home was worth it. All of the home vet services were busy and while our regular vet does not do home visits, they must have felt sorry for me (I did mention that we only live 150 yards away), so they said they could do it but the earliest they could schedule would be Monday (about 52 hours later). After we made arrangements I was not sure Toby would make it to Monday or not. He rallied strong on Sunday and was pampered to the extreme for his final 48 hours. I pulled out our old adventure sleeping bag and we tried to sleep on it the last two nights before his time to go. Maybe he knew what I knew but he did not show it. He even managed to not poop in the house during his last 24 hours. His final meals and snacks were filled with brisket, donuts, ice cream, pizza and meatballs. Waiting at the door to let in our vet in to end Toby’s life by my own choice made every second feel like a century. The only plus in the situation was being able to cry in the privacy of my own home away from any witnesses.

I miss my friend and he leaves a tear in my heart that will not be mended. He headed for Porch Hound Heaven at 1:44 pm, Monday June 25th.

R.I.P. Toby (Tobias J. Dog) March or May 2002 to June 25th, 2018

Porch Hound Post Script:

The dog socialization program continues at Chillicothe Correctional Institution where select inmate handlers work 1-on-1 with dogs and puppies to learn basic commands. The prison coordinates with DASH (Danielle’s Animal Safe Haven) a 100% volunteer based non-profit 501c3 rescue. If you want to make a Donation to Dash in honor of the most notorious of Appalachian Porchhounds here is the -> LINK.

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