A Toy Story

Chase loves toys. He is especially fond of colorful stuffed animals with a squeaker inside and believes that it is his mission in life to frantically dig and pull all stuffing out in order to remove and destroy the squeaker. I have previously mentioned my financial support of the pet stores and they have a wide selection of dog toys. I feel they are also clever by allowing owners to bring their dogs into the store. Chase enjoys shopping for toys and looks adorable carrying one in his mouth, tail happily wagging, to the cash register. I have spent more money simply because my dog looks cute doing something.

As a puppy, he enjoyed the “Kong” so long as I filled it with peanut butter and would be entertained for the duration of the creamy snack inside. He also enjoyed the heels of my shoes, headphone cords and antique oriental rugs so it was critical to keep the Kong filled with peanut butter. Chase was not very impressed with those dog toys that have no fluff or squeakers inside. To him it was similar to having a non-alcoholic beer…a complete waste of time, effort and money.

The toys that I discovered lasted the longest and were most treasured by Chase were regular children’s stuffed animals. I find them at the Goodwill and other thrift stores for under a dollar apiece and have also discovered them at garage sales. At a recent garage sale, there was a bin filled to capacity with plush bunnies. As my talkative mother chatted up the owner of the bunny bin, she discovered that the woman proudly collected all things rabbit and her husband was forcing her to downsize her collection. I selected a bunny from the bin, handed the woman a dollar, and dragged my mother down the driveway before she could reveal my intentions to present the bunny to my dog for his chewing pleasure. Because of the woman’s passion for bunnies, I didn’t have the heart to tell her the fate of the toy and hissed under my breath at my mother to stop talking.

My experience with purchasing second hand stuffed animals has proven to me that they last longer than the pet store toys, they are easier on your wallet and less likely to be completely destroyed in search of the evil squeaker. I am always careful to squeeze the stuffed animal like a package of Charmin toilet paper to make sure there are no small pellets or beans in the bottom. I’m not sure if they are toxic to dogs but I do know that Chase has pulled them out on a penguin given to him by my sister and, once strewn across the floor, are very hard to clean.

A few toys purchased have been for my own amusement. I presented Chase with a gigantic plush flower with a large stem that could be bent and twisted. He would gleefully parade around the house with it firmly clutched in his teeth and run full speed ahead at the doorways simply to get stuck as the flower was too big to fit. Chase would back into the doorway, drop the flower and then grip the end to drag it lengthways into the next room. He enjoyed an Easter Bunny that sang an old “Easter Bonnet” song when pressed in the center of its belly. Chase would work his teeth around the center until the song would play, jump back and bark along. He currently covets my father’s Walter the Farting Dog toy which is placed out of reach above my dad’s computer.

There are so many joys to having a dog as part of your life, but to me, there is nothing better than watching my English setter race manically around with a favorite toy in his mouth shaking his head back and forth, trying to tempt anyone to take the evenly coated, drool covered, unrecognizable, tattered and torn, bargain bunny-bin animal from his grip.

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