Story submitted by Sarah Jane Dooley; photo by Sophia Phillips Noll

This is magnificent Toby. He was turned in to a shelter where I volunteered when he was six months old. The young soldier who owned him was called overseas and he knew his petite wife could not manage this boy. That very day, I received a call from the shelter director telling me, 'Your dog is here.' I walked in and we walked out together.

Toby was the first big dog I was willing to adopt after losing my giant yellow lab 10 years before. I swore I would not get another big dog until I was old enough to go when he did.

In the five and half short years I have shared with Toby, he has been my hero more than once. When we lived on the beach, we took a walk in our neighborhood after Hurricane Irene had torn things up pretty badly. Lots of lost animals wandering around and one, large brown lab was heading down the street towards us. Then he took off at sprint and leapt into the air, teeth bared, heading right for my face. Toby took him down without breaking any skin, and held him until I could get away. Then he let him go and met up with me behind a tree.

There are so many stories with Super Toby, but how he and I face the future is yet to be known. This week I was told that Toby has lymphoma and has about six more months, if we are lucky. This is not the agreement I signed with Toby and I cannot believe he meant to break his part of our promise.

Toby is not quite a senior, but our love has definitely been unconditional. Toby and I are going to celebrate him until he is no more.