BÊTE NOIR

With two sons in their 30s living nearby raising their families, and two daughters away during the day working as elementary school teachers, Thomas & Maude Whipple welcomed a new being into their quiet home: Toby.

A thoroughbred standard poodle, Toby quickly grew to full size. Enrolled in a canine obedience school, Toby learned to wear a collar, to be walked on a leash and to recognize voice commands “no”, “sit” and “beg.”

But training abruptly came to a halt. Used to being the center of attention and physically larger, he bullied the other dogs at the school and totally disrupted the class.

Toby was expelled.

When family visited and Toby was off-leash, he typically ran upstairs to the bedrooms to return with a shoe as hostage for an inevitable treat. When he couldn’t pry open the doors, he’d make a try for the shoes visitors were wearing. His soft growls scared the children, which made Toby even more aggressive. There were always excuses: he was playing and not used to children. He only acted up with people he didn’t know.

Eventually Toby had to go to the basement during visits, but usually stayed closeby at the top of the kitchen stairs. His wet nose could barely clear the child guard. With no one in the kitchen, he would whine and then bark till someone came in.

On weekdays if Toby were on the front porch, he’d have to be brought inside and led to the basement when school let out and the paper boy came by. The large basement extended to a carport on the side of the house…where Toby waited. At the sound of approaching footsteps, his loud bark reverberated in the empty space, as he’d throw his weight at the garage door in a tantrum.

Decades have passed since Toby’s departure. No present day survivors of the Whipple family recall what brought on his demise sometime in the early 70s.

Online research has since uncovered disturbing images with a striking ressemblance to Toby, a doppelganger no one could have imagined.