Below you will find the full account of Toby’s passing, and how it has affected my son and his sweetheart. I know you are probably busy. I know you are full into Thanksgiving preparations. But please, please, take a few moments and read Sam and Marjorie’s story and if you are anywhere near Shannon MS (Tupelo Area) look closely at the photos, and watch the video. The person responsible, I call him, “he-who-has-no-conscience” has to be found and punished. Look, this could be anywhere USA. It could be your beloved pet. Animal cruelty abounds everywhere. SO, please please I am begging you, take a few moments and help these kids find this murderer. I appreciate each and every one of you who have left messages of love, prayers, and encouragement. And those who have shared. Please keep sharing. Let’s light a torch and make it shine until Toby gets justice. He was a great dog. He loved as only a beloved pet could-unconditionally. Thank you for your time.
Tobias Toby Funke Caulder, gone but not forgotten
8 years ago Marjorie brought Toby (Tobias ‘Toby’ Funke’ Caulder) in off the street, he was a rescued dog. He would cower if you tried to pet him, so it was assumed he was abused. He was skin and bones. She lived out in the country, in Abbeville, just outside of Oxford, when we were in school. She brought him in, fed him, sheltered him, and loved him. He was with her when we met, and with us through our entire relationship thus far. He made best friends with my dog Casey, and they were inseparable until she passed away earlier this year.
Tuesday evening, November 18th, 2014. Marjorie arrived home around 8:00 pm from the grocery store, and let Toby off of his line in the yard. It was standard procedure to let him off when we return home, and he roams our large yard and marks his territory, etc. Marjorie went inside the house after letting Toby off of his line. He was still in his bright red body harness that he wears to keep him on his line when we are not at home. About 10-15 minutes later, approximately 8:15 – 8:30, Marjorie heard the dogs barking frantically, as well as a loud truck exhaust passing our house, approaching the stop sign just in front, and to the right of our house. Toby was out of our yard, approximately 25 yards down the road, on left hand side. To clarify, he was not in anyone else’s yard, and he was not doing anything to disturb or harm anyone. He had simply wandered, as he some times does. We live out in the country, full of back roads and farm land. There are no leash laws out in the county, so we were not breaking any rules by letting him off of his line, nor was he doing anything disruptive to anyone.
Along with the barks, came the loud exhaust as the truck accelerated, followed by five distinct gun shots, in moderate succession. They were aimed, not fired at random. The bullet casings recovered from the scene, came from a .40 caliber hand gun. They were along a span of 20ft, sporadically located in the middle of the street across from where Toby had been shot. The vehicle had been moving when the bullets were fired, and fired from the driver side of the truck. Marjorie heard the shots and ran from our house, only to see the trucks tail lights speeding off from the location. She ran to her car, and drove around the corner with intent to follow the truck, only to stop and tend to Toby. The shooter(s) had fled, and Toby was helpless, in a ditch of freezing cold water. Sadly, he suffered in pain, there is no doubt about that. His labored breathing a sign of punctured lungs, and his head wound bled profusely. Marjorie picked him up from the ditch, lifted her rear door, and placed him in the back of her car. She wrapped him with a blanket and clothes found in the car, and warmed him and dried him as best she could, as he took his final breathes.
When I arrived home, she had relocated back to our driveway, and was with Toby, sitting in the back of her car with the door up. Blood and tears covered her face as she laid across Toby’s still chest. He had passed moments earlier. I felt helpless. She was inconsolable. Her clothing soaked in ditch water and blood. She shook uncontrollably as I held her, and kissed her head. No words could I find to say.
We phoned the sheriff’s department. We were transferred and put on hold multiple times, before finally getting to dispatch. They sent a deputy out, a fellow dog lover and K9 unit member. He took our account of the situation and filed a report. We exchanged a forced smile. I could tell the deputy empathized with our pain. He had just lost a K9 dog not too long ago. After a firm handshake, he assured us he would do what he could to find the persons responsible, and left is his patrol car.
We sat with Toby for a while longer. Marjorie and I could only look into each others teary, red eyes. There was nothing to say. We were shell shocked. So many questions ran through our heads. Who could be capable of such a thing? Was this with intent? Was this a random act of violence? Would they harm our other animals?
We reluctantly went inside our home, from the now below freezing temperatures outside. We warmed ourselves for a moment, and made preparations to bury our beloved friend. We returned outside to pick a resting place for Toby. “In the sun shine.” Marjorie requested. “Facing East, so the sun will shine on him every morning.” Toby would often bathe in the morning sun. Memories of him laying on his back, as happy as can be in the sunshine and begging for tummy rubs, we will never forget.
Then… as we left the back porch, Marjorie heard a familiar truck exhaust as we rounded the corner of our house. I see headlights stopped in the road at the location of Toby’s shooting. Why on earth would anyone stop right there? To cover their tracks. Silly criminals, returning to the scene of a crime admits your guilt. Thankfully, Marjorie had gathered all the spent bullet casings already. My walk becomes a run as I reach for the phone from my pocket. I frantically locate the video option, and I start recording. The truck pulls forward from the location, and right to the front of our house. As they saw me running towards them and the truck with my camera, they sped away.
We immediately called dispatch, and were told the officer was no longer in our area. They say they will take this new information, the description of the vehicle, and add it to our case file. I couldn’t give chase to the truck in Marjorie’s vehicle, Toby was still wrapped up inside of it. My vehicle’s keys were inside, and by the time I had retrieved them, giving chase to the truck that returned, was out of the question. They had made too much ground. They escaped.
Soon after, we returned to Marjorie’s car. We both lifted Toby from the back, and placed him gently on the ground next to his final resting place. We dug. We cried. We shoveled through the cold hard clay, and dirtied our hands as we pulled roots and stones from the hole. Then, we tenderly placed Toby into his grave. And we wept. Uncontrollably, we wept. Once we regained control of our emotions, we delicately broke down each individual piece of clumped dirt from the hole we dug, and buried Toby.
We held each other’s dirty hand, as we went inside and tried to make sense of that night. When daylight broke, Marjorie soaked her pillow through as recollection of the night before came rushing back. I was so hurt, and felt helpless. It was the single most traumatic thing I have ever witnessed happen to her, and there was nothing I could do to take those feelings away that morning. The loss of our dog Toby was a tragedy. To see the love of my life so hurt, was equally disheartening.
Please if there is anything you can do to help us, we appreciate it. These photos and video are all we have to go on.
There is a news article about this story in the Daily Journal that you can read here. PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT if you want to see the laws changed. Mississippi has TERRIBLE laws for animal cruelty as the article shows.