Life can be cruel and people can be even crueler, but sometimes the innocent can be saved - it can happen in a moment. Toby, a basset hound, was found along the side of a highway just north of Winnipeg, Manitoba by some good samaritans who saw a dog dragging himself by his front legs, unable to walk. They initially thought he was hit by a car so these kind people picked up Toby's broken body and took him immediately to a vet for emergency care. Soon after his owner was located it became apparent that it was not a car that did this damage, but rather severe abuse.
Toby was 7 yrs old at the time; his nose and jaw were broken and his back was severely injured. The veterinarian looking after him believed that the injuries were the result of years of kicking and physical abuse that left him damaged and paralyzed. While it appeared that the abuse came at the hands of his owner, it was never proven and therefore no charges were able to be filed. The owner did agree to give Toby up for adoption which was the moment his life changed forever.
Toby was taken in by Before the Bridge, a volunteer operated, non-profit rescue group located in Stony Mountain, Manitoba that rescues senior dogs. While a little young for their rescue, Toby quickly found his way into their hearts and they were not going to let him down. They brought him to Saskatoon for a CT scan and it was quickly determined that Toby needed extensive back surgery to help him walk again. It also showed that his bowels, bladder and kidneys were seriously damaged from the abuse and to this day have never fully recovered. Toby also had to have dental surgery to extract many of his teeth that were damaged when his jaw was broken. Toby's nose will be forever crooked, his kidneys periodically bleed and he has never regained full control over his bladder, but thanks to generous donations from the public that made the surgery possible and because of Toby's determination, he was able to walk again.
In February of 2014 Toby met his new family - Rachel and Jonathan Avey from Manitoba. As a young couple with plans to have a baby and with a young basset hound of their own, they were at first a little unsure how Toby would react to his new surroundings, especially given the abuse he had endured for so many years. Almost instantly Toby fit in and they could see how very sweet he was and how much he needed to be loved.
In the beginning if they moved their hands too close to his face he would flinch in fear so they learned to adapt their movements around him, moving slowly and more carefully. Stepping around him, not over him to ensure he never connected their actions to anything that could ever harm him. Fortunately it did not take Toby long to trust his new family and soon realized that he was now safe, secure and most importantly loved. The fear disappeared replaced by loyalty and affection.
A dog's ability to forgive has never been more demonstrated than with Toby. Despite being severely abused by a man, he has never shown fear or dislike to anyone, male or female, adult or child. In fact this is the quality that most surprised his new family shown through his absolute adoration for his new dad. He goes to dog parks and goes on walks and they have never met a man that scares him. He loves everyone, dogs and humans alike. His temperament is incredible and his ability to put the past behind him and live in the moment is a lesson we could all learn from.
Rachel describes Toby as gentle and trusting which is amazing given his background. "If you lay down on the floor and begin petting him he will not let you stop. He craves the touch and melts into you." His gentleness extends to his human baby sister Katie who he lays close to and shows incredible patience with, living up to his big brother status.
Now 9 yrs old, Toby enjoys his daily walks like he's making up for lost time. He plays in the backyard with his basset brother Jethro (6 yrs) where they roughhouse, bringing out his inner puppy and living life to its fullest.
Toby has forever changed the Avey family and while Jethro came from a breeder, now that they have seen the difference they can make in a dog's life, they will only ever bring rescues into their home thanks to Toby's impact.
"We will always rescue a dog from now on because to be able to see the changes we have helped Toby go through, to see how different he is and how happy he is, we have never experienced something so rewarding."
Since Toby's bladder never full recovered, Rachel has had the challenge of managing his incontinence. When they first adopted Toby the rescue had provided her with some handmade belly bands that required her to insert a disposable pad, but they always slipped or became so full that they would leak. They were constantly coming home to puddles of urine and they had to stop him from laying on the furniture because when he would stretch out, the band would move and he would have accidents.
When Rachel became pregnant and her husband was a student they were looking for ways to save money so she began researching washable diaper solutions for her baby. In doing this research she decided to also look to see if there were washable diapers available for dogs which is how she found Dog Quality and the Washable Wonders. The need for an effective solution for Toby's incontinence was also becoming more urgent since they would soon have a baby crawling around on the floors and could not have puddles of urine to contend with, especially when his damaged kidneys would sometimes cause blood to also appear.
"We have not had one accident in the house since we have started using Dog Quality's belly bands - they are incredible!"
Their daughter Katie, now 11 months old, can play with Toby and there are no concerns that she can pull the band off or that she will come in contact with any unwanted substances.
"These washable bands have made it possible for Toby to remain in our family - we love Toby and we love these diapers."
The belly bands have become such a part of their normal routine that they don't even think about it as effort. They put the band on in seconds and don't have to think about it again until he needs to go outside. And because they are so comfortable for Toby, they often will use two bands at a time to accommodate his extremely long body allowing him to fully stretch out without fear of leaks.
As Toby gets older they are starting to see some signs of slowing down and his back is starting to make climbing steps a bit more difficult, but none of this seems to phase him - life is good now for Toby and he is forever grateful.
Rachel recalls a moment not long after he arrived where she watched him in the yard and saw what she believes was a smile. "He was just so happy and it made me cry because 7 years of his life was a living hell and now he knows he's home for the first time ever and he has never been happier."
While Toby may still show the physical scars of his horrible beginnings, seen through his crooked nose and internal injuries that have healed as much as can be expected, the light in his eyes is now brighter than ever and the love in his heart knows no bounds. He may have started out in a terrible situation, but thanks to the care of some good samaritans, a generous rescue and a loving family, Toby finally has the life he has always deserved. He no longer lives in fear, he no longer lives in pain and he now has more love than he could ever ask for thanks to the Aveys. Toby is the walking definition of a miracle.