My sister’s family dog Toby passed on recently. He was a basset hound and brought with him many funny stories as his appearance might suggest.

Toby was something else. He could cause more mischief, mayhem, and mishaps, than any of our other family canines combined. He literally could open the refrigerator door with his nose (don’t ask how we know!) so my sister had to keep the refrigerator handles tied with a rope. No food was safe from Toby. Of course the table had to be cleared promptly after dinner, but he could grab food from your hand or off of your plate right before your eyes if you weren’t vigilant. He was like a canine alligator! Whole challahs became history more than once. Even the far back of the kitchen counter was not a safe place given that when Toby stood on his back legs I think he must have been at least 5 feet tall.

Then there were the tricks he would play. He would bark to go out in the middle of the night and as soon as Wendy’s husband David would open the door, Toby would take David’s place in bed. Have you ever tried to move a 65 pound dog? David would just curl up wherever. . .

So many broken keepsakes, pee puddles, chewed up shoes. The list goes on.

But in talking with Wendy, the family is just not the same without him. Everyone misses the Toby drama that was so much a part of the rich fabric of their family. To others it would seem they may be relieved. But to those who loved Toby, there is a huge whole in their hearts.

For Toby’s life was a testimony to how to love the unlovable. His antics taught his family patience, and forgiveness. Those who loved him accepted him as he was. With a dog like Toby, not only did he love his family unconditionally as most dogs do, but he was the way for his family to learn to love another unconditionally as well. More than that, he was our Abba’s instrument through which my sister’s family experienced love for another in spite of and perhaps because of their failings, the model of our Abba’s divine love of us.

We do not merit our Abba’s love, but He gives it to us. And to a perfect Father, our antics are not much more noble than were Toby’s.

Thank you, Toby, for being a part of our lives, and for opening our eyes to what it means to be loved by HaShem.

Shabbat shalom.

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