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If you want to learn a lesson about impermanence, come over here and watch Dinah and Crispin when they get new toys.  Except for a Booda hedgehog that lived for two years because that’s how long he was lost under the living room sofa, a number of kongs (celestial music should play here as we sing the entirely unsolicited praises of the fine folks who make kongs), and a sturdy canvas rainbow trout that lived until it was too filthy to keep, most of Dinah’s and Crispin’s toys have had pretty short lives. They dogs aren’t bad-tempered, they’re just really rambunctious. And strong.

Sometimes a particularly favored dog toy will be petted and babied like a real puppy. Dinah will sleep with her head pillowed on it. Crispin will steal it and carry it out into the yard so he can baby it. But then some signal, inaudible to human ears, spells the end of said toy’s life, and within 4 minutes it will be ripped to shreds.

We’ve tried saving money by buying dog toys from the stuffed toy bin at Goodwill. We carefully select the ones that meet our criteria:

  • they have no glass eyes
  • they have no wires
  • they have no squeakers
  • they are not stuffed with (the devil’s own) styrofoam microbeads (man, if one of those even gets a tiny leaky hole in it, you may as well put your house up for sale and move out–you will be finding them for the rest of your natural life)
  • they cost $2 or less
  • there have to be two toys of roughly equal attractiveness so the dogs won’t fight over them

Today we brought home two soft toys from Goodwill, a yellow lion and a primary colored plush truck. The dogs were ecstatic. They were quiet, playing with their new toys. We were happy.

Then we heard the ripping noise that is the unmistakable signal of Stuffed Toy Demise.

The truck had lasted 3 minutes.

The lion lasted perhaps 3.5 minutes.

Second Child stood with me in the kitchen, surveying the wreckage and helping me to collect the cloudlike drifts of toy stuffing in a paper bag.  “Give it up, Mom,” she said. “You’d be better off getting some canvas and making your own dog toys.”

Cue celestial music again. And scurry for the black and white canvas in my fabric stash, the fabric printing paint, and a piece of rope (of course I have all these things on hand–don’t you?)

An hour later, a dog toy was born:

Within another half hour of watching Crispin sulk because I happened to hand this one to Dinah first, a second toy was produced.

Of course, before the afternoon was out, Cris had chewed the rope off of his, but–hallelujah–both toys were still here, unbowed, unbloodied, and with a full complement of stuffing still inside.

Anyone know where I can get a stronger rope?

He is so shaggy. People are amazed when he gets up and they suddenly realize they have been talking to the wrong end. --Elizabeth Jones
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Nancy Hall ©2009
September 2008