Part of me wants to say I’m at a loss for words, but the complete opposite is true. After writing about the passing of my father in March, it seems a little silly to be spending time here with tears in my eyes writing about a dog. And, if I’m required to try and keep to some sort of perspective, some hierarchical order of heartbreak, this does rate a few steps below that.
What I’m feeling isn’t just heartbreak for myself … it’s for my children, who have loved Tobey for these past nearly 10 years … who really can’t remember a life before this dumb damn dog was part of the household.
I remember because Tobey more or less was a surprise waiting for me when I got home from work one day. I’d grown up with dogs but, with three cats in the house, I wasn’t in a hurry to get a dog. Kathie and the kids had other ideas.
And so Tobey came to us from Arizona Beagle Rescue. That night, I rode my bike (I still exercised a little) to my youngest’s karate class so my ex-wife could bring her by my house to meet him. What you see on the right was a photo of Tobey’s first week with us back in the spring of 2004.
I still had a 9 to 5 job then; it wasn’t until that July that I was laid off from Schwab and my real estate career began.
That’s also when Tobey became my accidental marketing muse and four-legged business partner. Medium-sized dog, really small cat bed – “Are you cramped in your current surroundings?” on a mailer and the rest was history.
Through the years, as the so-called RE.net grew – our old name for the online real estate community – and it was impossible to ignore everyone’s opinions about how you should run your business, I was told time and again that an agent shouldn’t use their dog in their marketing.
To which I generally said, in a word or two, fuck off. It’s not a dog. It’s Tobey.
(Yes, kids, I used the F word. It’s that kind of night.)
To my knowledge, Tobey is the only dog out there who rocked an REBarCamp … I’m not exaggerating. For every person who wondered why there was a beagle at the very first REBCPhoenix, there were three others “in the know” who knew exactly who was in their midst.
Forgive me my slight exaggeration, but Tobey was a bit of an online sensation; there was a time when other agents outside my area may not know my face, but they sure as hell knew his because I made sure it was everywhere from avatars to business cards to what-have-you.
Where was I … oh, who cares. Linear thought isn’t happening.
* * *
I look at this picture at the left and can’t help but wonder where the time has gone, not just in terms of Tobey but also in the lives of my children. Karina (not pictured because she was in her tragic uber-short hair phase) was seventh grade. Will was in sixth. Faith … Faith, my now high-school freshman, wasn’t yet in kindergarten.
Nine years … an eternity and gone in the blink of an eye.
* * *
I’ll tell you a little secret which makes the whole thing a little more, well, I don’t know.
Within the past week or two, I decided I’m pulling back from a lot of the day-to-day of real estate and turning things over to my two buyers’ agents. This year has been challenging in more ways than I can explain, personally and in business and in combinations of the two.
Seriously, what kind of idiot is negotiating the conclusion of a short sale at 4:3o a.m. on a Friday morning, barely an hour after his father has died and while he’s sitting in the waiting room waiting for the mortuary to pick him up? This guy. Because that’s what this business sometimes takes.
People look at real estate as freeing … we create our own schedules, write our own rules … and the trade off is there rarely is a minute of the day where, should we take a moment of free time, we feel like we should be trying to grow the business.
No more. I’m still here, and I’ll still work personally with select clients – mostly past clients and new sellers – but as for the rest, the ladies can handle it. I don’t have the desire anymore. Not after … well … no need to get into specifics. If you follow my Facebook feed, you know.
* * *
All of which segues back to Tobey.
Through the years I’ve wondered if I should take him out of my marketing. And every time I almost did, someone would ask me about him or tell me what a cute dog I had and I’d tell them the old tried and true lines that his photo in the business card is air-brushed. If I removed one of my chins, my wife said, I had to take away his.
Truth is, I can’t really imagine a marketing photo without him.
I can’t picture a house without him here … except maybe at dinner time or, more specifically, from 3 to 8 most days when he begged for food.
In 12 hours or less, he won’t be here. And that’s just the way things work, like it or not.
The worst (or best) part is he knows it’s his time. I could see it in him when I tried to play what we called the kissing game – kissing his nose before he could lick your face. (Yes, we’re all about excitement here in the Dalton household.) He didn’t much want to make eye contact with me. Or kiss me. He just wants to sleep. I can’t blame him – he is, depending on who you ask, somewhere between 12 and 14. He’s lived one hell of a life.
* * *
At some point I’ll need to update the biography on the website – he’s always had his own – and maybe try and figure something else out as a marketing picture since it’s not right to use him after he’s gone. Or at least I don’t think it would be. Hell if I know the answer there.
Right now, though, I just want to go back in time … maybe not all the way back to 2004, but back at least a couple of months until we first learned his kidneys were going.
For that matter, take me back to March so I can talk to my Dad one last time while I’m at it.
Or just jump me forward out of 2013 … I’m so f’ing done with this year.
Thank you for your indulgence in my ramblings, dear readers. I’ll be back to you sometime soon.