Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ask Toto A Question #2

Dear Sir,

I find it impossibly rude to presume to address you by your given name, Toto. You've been around town longer than I have (that's no small feat), and the above salutation hopefully reflects the high regard within which I hold you. I remember being enthralled and -yes!- enraptured by you and your Mistress's mis-adventures as I read about them late at night with a flashlight back in my early '60's girlhood bedroom. It's been some time since, but I clearly recall thoughts such as, "Toto knows what he's about", and "wish he could be all mine", or "that stupid girl's going to lose her darling if she doesn't watch out!"

My question Sir, is this: were you aware 'back in the day' that young-budding-women around the globe were avidly adoring you?

I rather fancy you in your canine smoking jacket and slippers, carefully licking a bit of brandy by the fire, and I will completely understand if my query goes unanswered. You did work so awfully hard and, in my book, you've earned every bit of old wise dog downtime available to you.

I am sending along a pic of my darling boy Franklin (aka "Frankie). On his best-groomed days, I think I can see a bit of you in his handsome profile.

Respectfully and ever yours,
Bibi Tinsley

Bibi! I am simply overwhelmed with your adoration! Obviously you are a lady with exquisite standards and I am mightily proud to meet your high bar of canine studliness.

Of course of course you may call me Toto. The only things that have to call me Mr. The Dog are cats. Because we all know what kinds of lower life forms they are, and they are nowhere NEAR the delicate finery of your personage. I am so privileged to correspond with you!

Do I know what I’m all about? Absolutely I do, and I’m thrilled that readers such as yourself saw my influence from early on. I do wish that I could be all yours too, but alas alas, I am a one woman dog, and Dorothy has my heart. Would that we lived in a parallel world where cats and chicken do not exist and my jumping capabilities are high enough to nick me anything I please from the dinner table, I have no doubt that we would gaily run through fields and meadows with brightly colored streamers behind us. But alas I am Dorothy’s, and you are Franklin’s and thus all we have between us are dreams and correspondence.

As to your question! Dear me no, I never had the faintest glimmer that beauties around the world were avidly adoring me. I always appear as a constant afterthought, the last thing that any illustrator puts into a picture of Oz is me. Possibly because I’m small. Possibly because I don’t talk. Possibly because no one knows the real story and how things went down. But that will all change in a matter of months. Will you be there, Bibi darling!? I do hope to see your glorious countenance.

But I can tell from Franklin’s picture that you are in more than capable hands. He has the mischief in his eyes. I could envision the two of us chasing the horses in Uncle Henry’s fields, dog and dog, bark for bark, as male dogs need to do on occasion to prove their dogliness. My sincerest gratitude for enclosing his picture. I can sleep by the hearth a little bit safer, knowing you have a trusted companion.

And while I am very flattered by your vision of canine smoking jacket and slippers, the truth of the matter is that I do not have my own wardrobe. The brandy on the other hand...

Dorothy! Give that back!

(Dorothy here. Toto has been a very naughty dog just now. Please excuse any high falutin’ impressions he gave you. He’s not nearly as refined as that. He gets fleas in the summer. Thanks for the question, Bibi! Toto will answer the next one when he sobers up.)


Dear Toto -

I just found your blog, and was so jazzed I almost peed the carpet. I've been obsessing about something for months now, and never had anyone to talk to who could understand me. I'm hoping you can help.

I'm in a long term live-in situation with two pretty decent humans. They say we don't need papers to prove our love for each other - and I always thought it was a committed relationship. (They never forget to feed me, and whenever they move out of state, they take me with them.) For the last few years, though, they've been spending a lot of time on this website called YouTube. They say it's harmless fun, but occasionally I catch them sneaking a peek at videos of other dogs - dogs who seem to be younger, cuter, or just more daring than I am. (They really seem to like the puppy videos, which I find downright disturbing.) I've tried to confront them a few times, but that never seems to go well. They just get angry and push me off the computer keyboard - like I'm the one doing something wrong. I've also tried to access the website to see what's going on for myself - but, as always, the lack of opposable thumbs is a problem.

I have always been widely considered cute and cuddly. (I get lots of compliments on my walks.) Sure, I'll be 98 next month - but I think I look pretty good for a bitch my age, and I can still do all my tricks.

How worried should I be?

Glendale, CA

Hi Bianca, thanks for your question! First things first, you know that collar you wear around your neck? Not the festive Christmas bow, that comes off after the holidays are over. No, no, the collar is the thing around your neck with the jingly tags, the thing that people grab when they meet you and don’t know what your name is, ‘cause I guess it’s written there. So the collar is the dog equivalent of a wedding ring. Humans have rings, dogs have collars. You’re right, you don’t need paperwork to prove you’re in a committed relationship, it’s because your collar does all the proving for you. So you can relax on that front, you’re a legal beagle, except you’re not a beagle, but you get my point.

As to your question! Your owners are watching puppy videos on Youtube. I totally understand your dismay and confusion. Does it mean they love you less? Not at all. Just means you’re not a puppy anymore. Or you’re not doing cute things to distract them, like figuring out how to climb out of a backyard shed by climbing up the chain link walls, poking yourself out the top, and taking a death-defying leap back down to the ground. Know how I know about that one? Your owners sent it to Dorothy.

Look, you’re plenty cute in your picture. And most importantly, YOU CAME FIRST. Who’s still there when they turn off the computer? YOU ARE. Who’s still there when the power goes out? YOU ARE. Who’s still there when the wireless connection blips out? YOU ARE.

May I be so bold as to suggest, that, possibly. MAYBE, the problem isn’t with the ones that walk around on two legs, but four? And not the four legged ones on the computer?

Ultimately it comes down to trust, Bianca. You’d have a problem if they weren’t feeding you or taking you on walks because they can’t tear their eyeballs away from the guy singing his puppies to sleep with his rendition of “Goodnight Sweetheart.” (they sent that one to Dorothy too.) But they still are, aren’t they?

Like I never had a problem until we got to Oz, and Dorothy started paying attention to those goons Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion instead of me. That’s when all the trouble started, but you better believe I took care of it.

So bottom line, unless those pixilated puppies come out of the screen and start licking your owner’s face, you’re okay. In the meantime, to paraphrase the great comedian Steve Martin “Be so cute that they can’t ignore you.”

Or pee on the rug. One of the two.

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

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