Thursday, October 20, 2011


Toto was the family pet during my childhood. My first memory of Toto was when I was around three years old. She was a brown mass of fur that wiggled when I petted it, licked me a lot, and smelled funny. My eldest sibling, who was eleven at the time, convinced our parents to adopt this animal because it was being neglected. Toto was a small terrier mix and weighted about twenty pounds. We had had another dog but it grew too large for being in town and was given to friends who lived in the country. Unfortunately, the neighbor of our friends didn’t like the dog and shot it.

Toto was about one year old and belonged to an elderly woman who kept her outside all the time. The newspaper delivery boy would spray Toto with water and hit her with the rolled up newspaper. Thus, she had a lifelong abhorrence for young boys, anything rolled up or in a tube, bicycles, and getting wet. She would transform from a sweet puppy into a vicious wolf when confronted with these items. Her neglect and abuse haunted her until she died. She must have considered me to be a member of her pack because when I would annoy her she would only growl and move away. She never bit me except an accidental nip while we were playing.

Every Easter, I recall the basket incident. My siblings and I had ventured to Grandma Daisy’s farm for Spring Break week. I was five years old and still believed in the bunny. On Sunday I received a small basket with a note from the Easter Bunny stating that my big basket was at my parent’s home. What a conscientious bunny!

Upon arrival home, I rushed to see what the bunny had delivered. I plunked my luggage onto the bed and grabbed my basket. One quick glance was enough to show that the bunny had only given me jellybeans and foil-wrapped mini chocolates. I was utterly devastated because I had really tried to be “good.” I couldn’t hide my disappointment and began to quietly cry. Mom walked into the room and asked me what was wrong. “The Easter Rabbit must not like me because he only gave me jellybeans and I don’t like them,” I sniffed. She put her hands on her hips and frowned. The tone of her voice was serious when she replied, “I know the Bunny left you some chocolate, I saw it myself.”

It was a great mystery because my siblings were with me, my dad doesn’t like chocolate, and my mom always kept her own private stash on the top shelf of the cupboard. This was back in the day when no one locked their house doors in a small town and everybody left their car keys in the unlocked vehicle with driver’s license and charge cards in the glove compartment. She was probably wondering if someone had come into the house while my parents were at church to play a trick on me. All I knew was that I there was no chocolate or my favorite sugar coated malted milk “robin eggs.” Jellybeans got stuck in my teeth and I didn’t like their flavor. The foil wrapped chocolates always tasted a bit tinny and was usually dark and bitter.

I was feeling sad and my mom was mad. Toto had already zoomed into woof hello to my sisters and finally made it to my room. She looked at me with her big brown eyes and could see that I was sniffling and my mom was irked. She tail stopped wagging her plump body as her head lowered. Her tail went between her legs as she tried to sneak out of the room. My mom grabbed Toto and placed her on the bed right at my eye level. She said, “Dog, what did you do?” Mom pried open Toto’s lips to reveal a ring of chocolate. A tiny bit of foil was on a tooth, where she had attempted to peel open a covered treat. The mystery was solved!

The commotion caused my siblings to investigate. My mom told them what had occurred while I told Toto that she was a bad dog. She laid on the bed in a submissive pose and let me rub her soft treat filled tummy. One of my sisters asked if chocolate kills dogs. Mom said yes. My heart sank. I was angry that my goodies were gone but I didn’t want Toto to die. I was bereft with guilt, because candy kills. I grabbed the wiggling dog and sobbed loudly.

We lived in a small town and there was only one veterinarian who treated small animals. My mom called him and interrupted Easter dinner because it was an emergency. Dad was irritated that the call would cost money for the stupid dog. The vet said that it was too late to pump Toto’s stomach. All we could do was make her comfortable as she went into shock and died. Mom broke the bad news.

I erupted into full panic. I dragged Toto into the living room and held her in my lap expecting her to drop dead at any moment. I clutched tighter and tighter as she squirmed and woofed. She was darn energetic for a critter nearing the end. Finally, she broke free and was running around at full speed. This perplexed my parents. Dad called the vet and asked what we should expect. The vet was shocked, usually little dogs who consume a half-pound of chocolate toxin die within an hour or so.

Toto did not pass on. She was awake for two days and ran around endlessly. We concluded that she was among the small percentage of dogs not allergic to chocolate. The silly mutt didn’t even get diarrhea! She was thirsty but absolutely fine. After that she would dance on her hind legs for “candy” and gleefully nibbled chocolate.

End of this tale.
© 2011 Ima B. Musing

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