Barry Saunders

May 18, 2014

Saunders: Despite horrific trauma, Toby remains 'the sweetest dog ever'

NC State's vet school is amazed by injured canine’s recovery and disposition.

Toby, remarkably, is still wagging his tail.

You and me? We’d be hauling tail – every time we saw or heard a human being. I mean, we’d be real ornery sons of – never mind. You get the idea.

When Toby, a 20-pound dog, was taken to the Guilford County Animal Shelter last month, he was severely burned – burned to the point that animal shelter officials couldn’t even tell what breed he was.

The wonderful souls who take care of and treat animals in distress are amazed that Toby, a Lhasa apso – that’s the the consensus, anyway – is recovering so well from the grave injuries he suffered.

‘In good spirits’

They’re even more amazed, though, at the wounded dog’s disposition. While a wagging tail is no indication that a dog is in a good mood – so please, you dog whisperers, save your breath – Toby likes to lick people, frolic and be petted despite all he’s survived.

“He’s good-natured, in good spirits, gentle. He comes up to people,” David Green, a spokesman for the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine, told me last week when I called to ask about the severely injured dog with the joyous demeanor I’d heard about.

“It’s obvious he’s used to being around people,” Green said.

That’s a clue that someone owns the dog and may be missing him. Another clue is that he was “well-groomed, with no broken bones, fleas or ticks,” said Marsha Williams, executive director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter in Greensboro.

The Greensboro Police Department is investigating to find out what happened to the dog and who is responsible for what happened.

Williams said someone brought the distressed dog to the shelter a few weeks ago. The shelter took him to the College of Veterinary Medicine because of his severe condition.

“He was brought to us by someone who found him in their yard,” Williams said. “He had third-degree burns over half his body and one eye was scorched” and had to be removed.

The dog – they originally thought it was a shih tzu but have since settled upon Lhasa apso: kind of hard to tell because of the burns to his face, she said – has also undergone skin grafts and had part of its ear fashioned into an eyelid for its remaining eye. More surgeries are imminent.

‘Here I am, doc’

Despite all that, the most memorable thing about Toby seems to be his attitude.

Williams, who estimated the shelter is “a couple of thousand dollars off” the amount all the surgeries and care will cost, initially said, “He’s really, really sweet.”

Moments later, she changed that. “He’s the sweetest dog ever. He’s a very happy fella. He came in burned badly and in pain, but he still likes to be petted.”

Green, of the veterinary school, said, “He actually went up and leaned against the doctor who was going to perform the surgery, as if to say ‘Here I am, doc. Take care of me.’ ”

Let’s hope the Greensboro cops find and take care of the demented dog disfigurer.

The patient, Green said, “is now resting comfortably.”

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