Who’s the Yellow Dog?

I know that everyone says that their dog is a very special dog..the most amazing dog that ever lived even. I’ve had dogs before Toby, and I said the same things about them. But there truly is something extraordinarily special about our golden retriever.

“The Toby Story” has been told countless times and it always starts like this:

James was working for a campaign and doing grassroots organizing in the rural parts of Western North Carolina. As he drove down the highway, he saw 3 stray dogs running along the road. Always the animal lover, and afraid these dogs may get hit by a car, he stopped in the middle of the road and tried to herd the dogs into his backseat. Unfortunately, only one dog came as the others ran off the road and into the neighboring woods.

This dog was not pretty when James found him.  He was caked in dirt, undernourished with an ear infection and who knows what else from living on the streets. But James took him home, washed him, took him to the vet where he got his shots and a microchip. James was careful to take care of the dog’s ear infection, named him Toby and began to fall in love with him.

Everything was done to find Toby’s owners: fliers put up, an ad in the paper, a call to the pound to put him on a lost dog registry. Three weeks passed with no word of an owner for this dog. Then one morning, while James’ grandma was looking through the newspaper she said the words he was dreading “I think someone is looking for your dog.” Sure enough, there was an ad in the paper of a couple looking for their golden retriever.

Their BMW rolled into the driveway early one Saturday morning. James told them about the microchip and how to change the name on it. They said they would pay him back for his vet bills and then they were gone.


James grieved his loss but eventually moved on. One weekend, several months later, he was hiking in Virginia when he got a call from his mom: “The vet called…Toby was found in Florida.” 

The most we could find out was that a couple left Toby on the beach in Pensacola when he wouldn’t come to their calling. The two women found him, named him Toby, and brought him to the vet. Once they got to the vet they found out he had a microchip in him….. and was already named Toby. I know…I barely believed that small piece either, but it’s true.

James quickly got back to North Carolina and got in touch with the women who found Toby.

“Is this your dog?” They asked him.

“No, but he should be.”

They conversed for a few days, the women asking questions, making sure James was a good person and not the couple who left Toby stranded.

“Okay. If you want him, you’re going to have to come get him now because we’re falling in love with him,” they told him.

“I’ll be there tomorrow.”


For James’ 25th birthday, he and his mom made the long drive from North Carolina down to Pensacola. With Toby happily hanging his head out the back window of James’ Honda, they turned around and drove home.


Toby’s first owners said how he would always run away.  This has never made sense to us since Toby stays glued to our side. We rarely put him on a leash, instead letting him carry it wound up in his mouth. Sometimes when Toby and I run on trails or near vacant roads, I let him go sans leash. He stays happily trotting by my side for 6 miles – forgoing the temptation to chase squirrels or jump in lakes.


To say James and Toby are best friends would be an understatement.


Each day that goes by with Toby in our lives, we are amazed by how lucky we are to have him.


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  1. This story is amazing and makes me want a dog!! I have a cat but they are very independent! What a lovely story!

  2. Aww, that is a sweet story. I can’t believe the other people named him Toby too! How old is he?

  3. Oh my gosh, that story is making me cry! Toby kept running away from his previous owners because he was looking for you guys! It’s amazing how much we can love our animals.

  4. inmytummy:

    He’s about 3 1/2 now. I couldn’t believe they named him Toby either! I guess he is just meant to be a Toby!

  5. […] The Toby Story […]

  6. Wow! I didn’t even know that story!

  7. This story gave me chills. I’m so glad you have Toby!

  8. awww, that story makes me miss my puppy (who would Always run away from us!)

  9. AWWWWW!!! This is SO beautiful… Love it! And love your blog… To the google reader it shall go 🙂 Have a beautiful saturday, and tell your Precious Love Toby that My Buddha says Hiii 🙂

  10. I LOVE this story . . . and just adopted a dog, too . . . I can’t believe his previous owners didn’t keep him!! looking forward to reading your blog 🙂


    JK JK…but seriously, I expect you two to bring him when you come down for the half…i miss snuggling with him (and playing with the laser pointer)

  12. fantastic story.

  13. Hi, I just found your blog and wanted to comment. What an amazing story! I have 2 labs and a boxer, and am a huge dog lover.

  14. I’m just a little teary eyed right now. What a fantastic story – I’m so happy Toby is all yours!

  15. I love that story and the pictures. It makes me want to run out and get a golden retriever:)
    We found our chocolate lab on the side of the road and her ribs were sticking out. She is now our baby and as plump as a pumpkin!

  16. That is a fantastic story!

  17. I feel like a sap because i’m almost in tears 🙂 Happy ones! Loved the story!

    Redhead, Black Dog 😀

  18. OMG I seriously got chills and my eyes welled up when I read this story!! He is such a beautiful dog. My husband and I always wanted a golden retriever, but ended up rescuing a black lab.

    I guess that makes me Redhead, Black Dog lol!

  19. I loved reading about Toby and how he and James found each other. Even though I already knew the tale (or isit “tail”?) it was so well written, I had tears, like all your other bloggers!!!

    Bunches of love!

  20. Great story. We too had a Yellow Dog and when we geocached we would sign in as Yellow Dog + 2. We also named our kayak Yellow Dog. She isn’t with us any more, but she was incredible for the 15 years she was with us. Right now we’re with Spotted Dog. She’s a loveable mess.

  21. oh my god!! looove this!! i am such a sucker for animals.. just ask my mini urban zoo!! i am so glad they are back together!!

  22. This is such a sweet story. It seems like Toby was looking for James! He is a very beautiful dog! It makes me think of my special little girl dog, Bella. I’m glad to have come across your blog! Thanks for sharing.

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