Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Feeling a little fruity

Toby likes pears. Actually, he loves them. A love so deep it's almost unnatural for a living being to feel that strongly about an inanimate object.

We have a wonderful fruit-bearing pear tree in our backyard, and even though it produced a mass quantity of bulbous edible orbs last year -- enough for me to bag them and hand them out to all of our neighbors after saving a few dozen for ourselves -- Toby didn't really pay any attention to them. I think because he was too enamored with our lower-to-the-ground cherry tomato plants at the time.

Well this year, the tomatoes didn't grow. I didn't realize it was one of those "plant them annually" type of thing. My thumb is about as green as a silver crayon. Jerry jokes that my specialty is killing things, feeling guilty, then working frantically to nurse them back to life.

So without any bite-sized tomatoes to rip from the vine this summer, Toby discovered the pear tree. I'm not quite sure how, but I think the idea literally hit him on the head when one of the weaker ones dropped off a branch prematurely.

At first, they were too hard and flavorless for him to treat it as anything more than a glorified ball. So we'd toss them around the yard and he'd run and fetch, much as he would his mini tennis balls inside.

But inevitably, they grew and softened. And Toby discovered that they taste good when he sinks his teeth in. Now, instead of playing fetch, he happily lays in a sunny patch of grass, holding onto the thick end with his front paws and gnawing on the fruit from the top down. All over the yard are remnants of his snacking -- tiny pears with the tops chewed off.

Occasionally, he'll sneak one past us into the house. I can usually tell because he makes himself scarce to indulge in his latest victim. One time a few weeks ago while I was downstairs reading a magazine, I heard a series of dull thuds upstairs followed by frantic feet. When I walked up to investigate, I saw that Toby was tossing a pear high into the air with his mouth, jumping in excitement at his own creativity and running to retrieve it. The thuds were when the pear slammed against a wall.

I was laughing too hard to ruin his fun. I let him play until he tired of the game. We found the disgusting remnant a few days later in the corner of the kitchen floor near his food and water bowls. It was black and sort of fuzzy from being tossed around on the carpet. In fact, Jerry mistook it for a dead mouse. I just leaned over, picked it up and tossed it in the garbage with a single-syllable explanation: "Pear." Jerry understood immediately.

By now, most of the weaker fruits have fallen, and Toby has grown frustrated with the drought. Rather than take it lying down, he decided to spring into action. Literally. He jumps and spins and strains and works his tiny body to the extreme to pluck pears off the lower branches.

It's absolutely hilarious.

And more times than not, he's surprisingly successful. He loves the game of retrieving them as much as he loves the fruit, so sometimes he'll collect as many as he can, then play with them all at once.

As much as I love pears, no pear pie or pear sauce or pear cobbler is as enjoyable as watching Toby enjoy them.

I may never plant cherry tomatoes again.


julie said...

Video?!?!? C'mon, Kel!! That sounds hysterical. We gotta see this!!

Anonymous said...

Imagine if Toby had thumbs the wonders he could perform! This one made me laugh so hard, it's a good life that your dog has, one to envy!

Kristin said...

Julie said the exact same thing that I was going to say, lol. But yeah, my dog likes celery. You can't have celery in anything without giving him any, because he'll jump up on your lap to grab it from you if you don't share, lol. And then my friend's dog has an insane infatuation with spray whipped cream. I swear, he would bite your hand off just to eat some. He'll sit there and lick the side of the can if you let him just because he knows what's in it. =]


melinda hale said...

We need something similar as a visual... :)

pauline said...

Haha. Oh wow, I gotta see that. I thought my dog being able to climb tree's was cool... But pear picking? that takes the cake.

Suzy said...

awesome! love those crazy Toby antics! Our biggest...Leroy discovered a zucchini the other day and snagged it off the kitchen table..I didn't think I'd ever get all the pieces picked up!

the plainsman said...

A neat description, I can visualize it perfectly even without the video.

Pretty soon Toby will discover pear today, gone tomorrow...

Lewis said...

Why are there no videos of this?

Ray said...

You have one smart dog there! Not to mention fiercely hyper. I think he fits you and Jerry oh so perfectly.

Take care, Kelly.

Laura said...

Haha my dog is a scavenger for ice cubes. If he hears one drop onto the floor he runs as fast as he can to try to get it before it gets picked up. Then he sits there with the ice between his paws and licks and chews on it. It makes his paws so cold, but its so cute!

Alexandria said...

You should use your video camera and capture it sometime :]

erica said...

My dog has quite a thing for bananas. You can pluck them from the counter as quetly as possibly, ease down into the chair as surreptitiously as possible, and within seconds the dog has jumped on your lap, staring hopefully with her head cocked to one side and her tail wagging madly. Seriously, you could act as normal as you do with any other food, but she still ALWAYS knows when you have a banana. I also don't understand our dog's need to carry her food to the carpet to eat. No matter how much we yell at her she always feels the need to take her prize over, place it neatly on the carpet, and proceed to make a mess.

Anonymous said...

I read this earlier and didn't comment, but now I have to tell you a story.

I went to the produce market in my town and while browsing through the fresh fruits I came upon a basket of pears and all I could think of was Toby jumping up to get them and gnawing them down. I couldn't help but laugh thus feeling like a complete idiot standing by myself laughing at pears.


judith said...

i miss pictures of Toby! maybe a little picture or a video if you're feeling generous!! :)