Tobias “Toby” P. Bull
4/11/99 to July 13, 2009
On Monday morning, Toby passed away peacefully while I held him in my arms. He was the victim of an aggressive cancer that was discovered several months ago. During that time, he was spoiled with treats and lots of love.
In my experience, it is the greatest privilege to participate in animal rescue, and have dogs in my life. Losing Toby is painful – but in my heart I believe that he is in a better place.
A good friend got Toby as a puppy. That touched my heart and I got Alex from the same litter. Some years later, my friend needed someone to take Toby in. Of course I jumped at the chance to be his step-daddy. Little Toby-toe always had a hop in his step like an over-muscled ballerina. He loved gnawing on nyla-bones and could turn a kong toy into a stack of bits in no time. With precision, he could de-fuzz a tennis ball in minutes.
While I found out later it was a no-no, Toby loved to gingerly hold a grape in his paws and peel off the skin, tossing it aside to eat just the tender insides. One of his all-time favorites was watermelon. He would smack his lips after eating bites off a fork with skill as if asking “more daddy, please”?
In case you get the idea, Toby and Alex are spoiled. The boys would lie down together – Alex licking and grooming Toby’s face. When Alex would stop, Toby would gently nudge Alex’ face with his paw, then pause and repeat until Alex continued.
We still have footage of Toby for shows being edited, though I wish I had much more now that he is gone. Toby will remain on the site and always be an RV Buddy.
His brother Alex is wandering a bit, wondering where Toby has gone. I have told him that he has crossed the “Rainbow Bridge”.
Alexander “Alex” P. Bull
4/11/99 to December 14, 2012
On Friday morning, Alex passed away just as did his brother – as I held him in my arms. The trust in his eyes as I made that fateful decision challenged my beliefs to the bottom of my soul. He was the victim of the same illness as his brother, Toby. Alex lasted much longer than his brother living a good live for the last 9 months. During that time, he was spoiled with treats and lots of love.
I remember every moment of Alex’ life. When I first met Toby – who was my friends’ dog before he came to live with me and Alex – I became insanely in love with him. I contacted the person who had the litter and passed a lengthy phone interview. I was then allowed to have the puppies meet me. I had to remain quiet and still. As about 7 puppies entered the room – they all sniffed me and climbed all over me. 2 showed more interest than the others. They both pee’d on me. I was told it was time to go and to come back tomorrow.
The next day I came back and the 2 puppies came back to meet me. Alex, then named Butch, sat in my lap. He chose me. Me. And my life was changed. I went home and child-proofed every cabinet, door, cupboard, wall plug. I went to the pet store and bought a crate, toys, bowls, food, treats and a leash. I was like an expectant mother preparing her nursery.
The next day I went to pick up Butch. My friend named Alex. He wanted to keep Toby and Alex together from the beginning. So I felt it was fitting to keep that name – and so, Alex, Alexander P. Bull, Ally, Ally-pooper, Mr. Bull amongst other names came to life.
The rescuer was in tears as she handed me Alex. I cradled him in my arms – like an awkward parent the first time they hold their baby. We went to my car. He started the journey in a blanketed box. He finished it in my lap and we spent the next 3 days together bonding – never leaving each others side.
Over the years, he would join me visiting friends houses using their swimming pools, run circles around the dog park always, without fail, finding a mud pit to roll around in. He loved the beach – running through the waves biting at the white caps. He’d furiously dig holes into the sand – so hard that it flew a dozen feet in the air.
Alex was the ultimate example of the best of the heart of a pit bull. He loved everyone, everything. I called him my zen-stoner-love dog. And it was true. He calmly loved life. He never knew anything but love. He was never yelled at or hit. All training was love-based. As such, he was nothing but trusting. While I’ve had many career successes – I’ve never had anything so perfect happen to me in my life. Alex was the perfect culmination of every session of therapy, seminar and training class I’d ever taken… He was “fully self expressed.” There wasn’t a person who met him that didn’t fall in love with him.
Other than business, Alex snuggled all night with me back-to-back. He curved his body to be in contact with me as much as possible. I would make “nummy” sounds as I breathed out. And eventually, he would do that to. It was yet another way we communicated. I would continue until he fell asleep.
He and Toby joined me on my RVing trips and went through all my RV Buddies adventures. I was so glad to be able to have them be a part of that – to show the world the positive side of the breed.
After Toby passed, Alex was not receptive to a new friend. We had many fosters in – and he snubbed them all. He was aging and I could see the same symptoms that Toby had beginning with him. And then, Bella landed on my doorstep. They fell for each other. And for about a year – he was young again. Playful. Showing off for his new girlfriend. And she loved him. He wasn’t there just to breed her like the abuse she had been saved from. But eventually the disease started to take its toll.
He didn’t respond to meds so I went holistic. He became incontinent from the Cushings – but his love was worth more than wall-to-wall carpet. It was the cancer that came after and the muscle-wasting. That was the eventual undoing. Near the end, we camped on the downstairs floor together so I could let him out every hour to pee. That I could live with. But then we had to start with the pain meds. At first they worked and he had quality of life. But the day came that everyone knows will come. Hell, he’d been eating better than me and I set the time for the vet to come to the house.
The night before the little guy had 3 steaks. We slept by the fire. I held him in my arms. I would hear my heart beating – and the seconds ticked loudly as I knew his time was near. The vet was great with incredible bedside manner. I prayed Alex from this life to the next as I held him in my arms. As the drugs took effect the pain left him. I’m told by a friend who was there that Alex kissed me before falling asleep. I don’t recall. And then he was gone. I held him in my arms and cried. After sensing he was a t peace, I wrapped him all snuggly in his favorite comforter – laying him to rest.
I still have Toby’s ashes, and Alex’ will come to me soon. I’ve been trying to decide on the perfect place for them. As it turns out, I’ll by in the rain forests near the volcanoes of Costa Rica later this year. That’s where I will scatter their ashes. I think they would like that.
So maybe Alex liked Bella, maybe not. But Bella sure loved me, and she and I now share Alex in common. Maybe it was Alex’ last gift to me. Bella and I will take some time where she can receive all the love that had to be divided when Alex was sick. And when the time is right – I’ll get her a companion.
While I question my own faith more than I care to admit, I pray and have faith that life does not just end – but rather transitions into the next phase of a journey. I hope very deeply for this truth for as I get older I long to reconnect with long-lost familiar smiles, and have just one more chance to get licks from my Kiss Bulls Toby and Alex.
If you have not heard of the “Rainbow Bridge”, please read the poem below. I also found a letter written by Pope John Paul II that has brought me great peace during this time of personal loss. Regardless of your personal beliefs, it is an interesting read.
On behalf of all animal lovers, love your pet like there’s no tomorrow.
Following is a slide show and several videos I have put together to share Alex and Toby’s lives with you.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…
Pope John Paul II: “Animals possess a soul.”
When Pope John Paul II declared in a public audience in 1990 that ‘also the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren’ some people must have thought this was a new teaching, unaware of the Holy Father’s scholarly familiarity with the authentic Hebrew texts. When he went on to state that all animals are ‘fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect’ and that they are ‘as near to God as men are’, animal lovers in the audience were ecstatic! The Pope mentions the special relationship of mankind with God as being created in His image and likeness. ‘However,’ he goes on ‘other texts state that animals have the breath of life and were given it by God. In this respect, man, created by the hand of God, is identical with all other living creatures. And so in Psalm 104 there is no distinction between man and beasts when it reads, addressing God: “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.” The existence therefore,’ the Holy Father reminds us, ‘of all living creatures depends on the living spirit/breath of God that not only creates but also sustains and renews the face of the earth.’
This discourse caused a stir around the world, and was especially encouraging to Catholic animal welfare groups which had begun to despair that anything ‘animal friendly’ would ever be heard in Rome. The then professor of theology and dogma at the University of Urbino, Carlo Molari, called it ‘very important and significant. It is a “sign of the times” because it demonstrates the Church’s desire and deep concern to clarify present confused thinking and attitudes towards the animal kingdom. There should be no need, but the Pontiff, in reiterating that animals came into being because of the direct action of the “breath” of God, wanted to say that also these creatures, as well as man, are possessed of the divine spark of life and that living quality that is the soul. And are therefore not inferior beings or only of a purely material reality.’