Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bear, Bunny and the Shredder

Bax and Bunny
Originally uploaded by ScruffyDog.
Baxter's favorite toys are a fuzzy, brown moose with a squeaker (named "Bear" after a previous stuffed toy that has since left this world) and "Bunny," a lanky, stuffed, blue fleece bunny rabbit with four squeakers in various body parts. Bax carries these toys around the house from room to room. He sits and squeaks them with much amusement. He takes them to work in the morning, and when we travel, he takes one of them to bed with him and sleeps with a paw curled around it. At the moment, Bax is using both Bear and Bunny as a pillow at the foot of my desk. But Baxter's love of soft, fuzzy, squeaky toys is a relatively new development in the last couple of years. Prior to that, no stuffed toy lasted more than a few days (or a few hours) in our household.

When Baxter was a tiny puppy he shredded anything we put into his crate (this included bedding). As he grew a bit older and we gave him the run of the kitchen area, he would shred anything we put behind his it blankets, toys or newspaper. But as he got older and we gave him free run of the house, he stopped shredding things unless we gave them to him. People usually look at me with suspicion when I tell them that Baxter has never chewed anything in the house that wasn't his. But it's true. For the first year of his life we followed him around whenever he was loose in the house and emphatically said "NO!" every time he attempted to grab anything. My husband is an artist and we had a lot of delicate items within puppy reach, so this was a necessity, and Baxter, being the keen-to-please kinda guy he is, went along with it.

But when it came to his toys -- that is, anything we handed to him to play with -- he would immediately go to work at ripping it apart. He has always been an enthusiastic chewer, whether it be rawhides or chewy bones or Kongs. In fact, people at the pet store would guarantee us a certain toy would be "virtually indestructable." Baxter must have been among the small percentage of young dogs who made up that difference between "virtually" and "totally," because he always managed to tear the toys apart, even if they were made of the hardest rubber available. I think it's a combination of having really sharp teeth and a single-minded tenacity that enables him to focus on pulling something apart for hour on end.

We knew other people whose dogs liked to carry around stuffed animals, and they would play happily with them for weeks without tearing them apart. Not Baxter. No matter how cute and fluffy the animal was, it was a pile of stuffing and a squeaker on the floor in a matter of hours. But that didn't stop us from trying, on occasion, to see if we could get Baxter to play nice with one of his stuffed animal toys. I don't know what happened, but a couple of years ago we tried giving him a Castor and Pollux fleece bear. It took him weeks to start ripping holes in it. And we'd catch him licking it and sleeping on it from time to time. After going through several bears (which I stitched-up so they would last longer) we came upon the moose and Baxter has played with that moose for at least six months without any sewing necessary. Then, when he was staying with a friend while we were away, he was given the blue bunny and it has been love ever since. I've never seen him so crazy about a toy. Ever. It's hilarious to see him standing there, inviting us to chase him, with this blue bunny in his mouth, the ears, arms and legs dangling half way to the floor.

I guess along with age comes a certain respect for things. I know this is true for me, and it seems to be true for Baxter. Long live Bear and Bunny.

1 comment:

KM said...

How endearing. I have a picturein my mind of the scruffy in question napping with these soft, somewhat worn, blue toys. My dog sleeps with my daughter and scoffs at soft toys -- they don't have the right scent, I guess.