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It is usually a safe bet to guess that small, rural towns are the safest place for raising children or growing old with someone that you love. That was the case in the small town of Raymond, Washington. Residents would wave a friendly hello to both friends and strangers. Raymond had always been a town where parents did not have to worry about where their children were because it felt more like a big family than a town. The community was very close knit, and everyone would agree that there was one couple that could take credit for making Raymond what it was: Roger and Holly Fletcher.
The Fletchers owned a wonderful dog named Toby. Everyone in Raymond knew Toby and would stop by Roger and Holly’s just to take him on walks or play in the yard with him. Toby was unlike any other dog in Raymond, Washington. He had a shiny coat that was captivating, and his dark brown eyes attracted anyone who looked at him. When the sun shone, his golden coat would absorb the heat and reflect the brightness like a mirror. Looking into his eyes was like staring into a crystal ball. Toby had the ability to show people what was going to happen. He had a way of making the people who were in his presence feel safe at all times.
Toby loved to have people around and Roger and Holly loved the company. Their children had long ago moved away, started families of their own, and rarely came back to Raymond to visit. The doors to their home were never locked. Anyone was welcome in their home. They felt that way until one family moved to the block and changed everything. When the Chambers family moved in next to Roger and Holly Fletcher and their wonderful dog Toby, the atmosphere of the section of the street was transformed.
When Toby was with Roger and Holly, things seemed fairly normal, but as soon as he left their side, a feeling of uneasiness came upon them. The dog could see how people reacted to his company and was confused by it. He was only doing what he was born for, to be the friend of man. It was clear to Toby that Roger and Holly needed him even more after the Chambers moved to town. Toby’s attitude also changed when the new family arrived in Raymond. He suddenly began to act like a guard dog and would sometimes wake the Fletchers up with his loud barking.
Not knowing what was going on, Roger approached Toby one night when his barking wakened him from a deep sleep.
“What’s going on, Tobes? Did you hear something buddy?” he asked with concern.
Toby stood up and started wagging his tail aggressively; he also let out a low snarl. This was so unlike his normal behavior that Roger felt he should wake up Holly. He made his way back up to their bedroom to wake up his still sleeping wife.
“Honey, honey! Wake up. I think there is something wrong with Toby,” Roger said.
“Huh? What are you talking about?” Holly asked as she wiped her sleepy eyes.
Roger went on to explain the strange behavior Toby had displayed and they both made their way down to where Toby sat expectantly. He could sense his owner’s attitudes even before they came into the room where he waited. Toby could tell something was wrong, not only in the house but outside as well; all he wanted to do was make his owners feel better, safer. He waited for them to enter the room, but he felt like he had somehow disappointed them.
Upon entering the room, Holly called out in a concerned voice, “What’s going on, Toby? Is there something out there that is bothering you?”
A small yelp escaped Toby’s mouth, which had to mean “yes.” Roger instantly turned to the door to check what could possibly be outside. He returned within minutes, obviously not finding anything. He entered the house again to tell Holly the news.
“There was nothing out there, Holly. Maybe he just got spooked earlier today,” Roger suggested.
“I guess you’re right. Let’s just go back to bed.”
A few days later Toby’s barking had stopped, but when Roger was eating lunch at the local diner, he overheard the conversation of some other concerned residents of Raymond. He went over to sit at their table with them and listened to reports of things that had gone missing throughout the town during the past month or two. Residents noted how the Chambers had been pretty distant from the other community families, and wondered if this problem came from their family. Roger let the others know of the strange behavior Toby had the week before and wondered if they had any ideas of what it could be. The best thing they could come up with was that something similar to the other acts in town must have gotten his attention.
When Roger returned home that evening, he told Holly of the things that were talked about in town and they were both worried that something bad was going on. Shortly after Roger and Holly had settled in their chairs, Toby pranced into the room. After he entered, there was an atmosphere shift in the room. The dog had always been able to bring a sense of security to the people he loved so dearly; it seemed that all he had to do was wag his bushy tail. All was well in the room until Toby suddenly started to growl. The Fletchers did not know what it was, but they could tell it was not good.
They heard a car door slam, and instantly it was clear that something bad was about to happen. Toby ran over his owners, as if trying to warn them to get to a safer location. Roger and Holly were confused because they could not understand what Toby was trying to “tell” them. Toby’s ears shot up when he heard feet clomping up the steps of the porch, and then the door was kicked open.
A member of the Chambers family stood in the open doorway. His face was fierce, and Holly turned toward Roger, her face clearly showing fear. Roger and Holly held each other’s gaze as long as they could. They finally understood that Toby’s barking had been to protect them and warn them against the danger. He had done the best that he could.
Toby had let out a howl that startled the eldest Chamber long enough to allow Roger to get him and Holly to safety. They ran out the back door and tried to get Toby to follow, but there was no way he would risk leaving his owners in harm’s way. Toby never came out of that house.
It took the little town of Raymond a long time to recover from the event that happened at the Fletcher’s house. The Chambers ended up moving out of the area the following week, not feeling comfortable residing in Raymond. They claimed to have never known what was happening, but still didn’t like knowing that he had put others in danger. The small community came together like never before, helping each other to push through the loss of Toby and essentially the loss of feeling safe. Raymond, Washington was never the same because of what happened that night, and there would be a large piece of the community missing because they lost a very important resident, Toby.