That's right, we got Toby a babysitter.
In actuality, this is a friend/colleague of mine who also does pet/house sitting. This dinner out was a trial run to see how Toby would react to being left alone with someone who wasn't us. If this went well, we could see our way towards a week-long trip and eventually our Big Trip to Wales this October.
We provided her with plenty of cut-up hot dogs (which ended up being Toby's dinner) and hooked Toby up on an in-house lead we have set up for those times he needs a little reigning in. We showed her the limits of where he could go with the leash, and then left and hoped for the best.
Just like a nervous new mom going out after having her first baby, I kept my phone handy for the entire 55 minutes we were gone, and checked it obsessively. At one point I actually said out loud (mostly to myself but at least BG was there so it appeared to be an actual conversation) "If there was a problem she'd have gotten in touch by now. Everything's fine."
Not only was everything fine, everything was FINE.
When we got home, she was on the floor with him, and he was laying near her. She said he even asked for scritches by nudging her hand.
There were hot dogs left over.
She was able to get up and leave the room and come back without him barking at her. While he remained leashed while we were gone, we unhooked him when we returned and she was able to mill around with him off leash without him having any kind of problem whatsoever.
I cannot tell you how huge this is for us.
I always hesitated calling Toby a difficult dog, because we see how he is when it's just us. And there are so many other pet parents out there dealing with dogs with much worse issues. How can we complain? But the reality is, Toby is a difficult dog to get through to and you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. I mean, when all of your friends (after meeting your dog) say "He's so lucky to have you" and "You're doing such a good thing for him" what they are actually saying is "Your dog is fucking batshit and no way I'd deal with this level of cray-cray."
But last night, we found some hope. Hope that others can get through, with enough patience and cut up hot dogs. We found hope that we are not going to have to put our lives on hold while Toby is with us. Hope that there is a dog in there that can be unafraid and make new friends.
Last night, we found hope and I will be eternally grateful that our friend helped us find it.
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