It took me a while, but I finally came to realize why so many people in America love their pets and they actually become members of the family. Back in 2015, when I started seeing my wife Janis, one of the first questions she asked me was, “Do you like dogs?” Looking back, I suspect that I may not be married to her now if I had said NO!

Over the years I have had a number of dogs, but they were all outside dogs, and the two most recent got run over by a car. When we have an emotional attachment it is very difficult to lose a favorite pet, one that you have come to love. But in this case, having an “inside” dog was a new experience for me. However, I have always loved animals so I could say, “YES,” and after the fact, live with my answer. If you are an animal lover, then you know where I am going with this. There is a reason why it is said that a dog is “man’s best friend.”

The dog Janis was talking about was her little white Maltese lapdog named “Toby”, that had been hers for 11 years at the time. When she was alone for several months after her husband passed away, Toby was a great source of company and companionship, and she was really glad to have him around. While I will never know and understand why, Toby took a real liking to me. He slept at the foot of our bed, in the mornings would get up when I got up, and went to bed when I went to bed. In the evenings when I would come home, Toby would be sitting in the front window waiting for me. When I would get out of the car he would almost go crazy barking and waiting for me.

I can tell you for sure, when you have an “inside” dog that is always waiting for you when you come home, life is never the same again. You make preparations when you leave -- water, food and always put down one or two pads for him to do his business -- and then take care of the mess when you come home. But as time goes by and you continually feel the love and devotion from your pet, you don’t mind at all. You are glad to see him just like he is glad to see you. One thing I loved doing from time to time was taking Toby for a walk, get him hooked up in his little ‘harness’ and go up and down the street for a few blocks.

Another thing Toby liked to do was go for a ride in the car when we were going to take him to have his hair trimmed or down to the Village for a short stay. Over time, I can tell you truthfully that what started out as just a relationship with a pet became much more close and personal, and I began to feel and treat him differently, again like a member of the family. I just naturally talked with him more and gave him those positive strokes like we all need.

Something funny happened one evening recently. Our next door neighbor Rebecca has two large dogs, and she walks them on the road almost every evening. One day she was coming back from her walk and observed Janis and me getting out of the car. When she saw us she said to her dogs, “Oh look, there is Toby’s mommy and daddy.” Well, maybe we were.

If you have an inside dog, then you know there is considerable expense involved, including food, trips to the vet, grooming and most recently shots and medicine when he was diagnosed with diabetes. The crowning moment came for me when I went to the pharmacy and the medicine bottle had a label that said, “Toby Davidson.”

Now, if you are a pet lover you know you can’t get much higher than that. All good, and was worth it, but sadly we lost Toby as he passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 13, and we miss him terribly.