Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dog Toy Heaven

This is Rochester Q. Squirrel.

I wish you could have known him in happier times. You know, when he had both arms, his tennis-ball-entrails were in tact, and his squeaky heart still beat strong. He was so handsome without that big gaping hole along his right side...

According to the tag on his ass, Rochester Q.'s life began in 2004, when he came off the assembly line and swung his way onto the shelf of a local pet store. There he was, surrounded by tug ropes and plushies and squeakies and balls... He had to have known how special he was, carrying a little bit of all the best toys in his little body. His tug rope tail, his tennis ball belly, his squeakie torso, and his plushy epidermis... How could any dog resist that wild and wonderful combination!

And then, one day, in walked Auntie K. She took one look at Rochester Q., and knew that her gentle, loving Cal-monster just had to have him. She purchased him on the spot, and brought him home to be a life long companion to Mr. Cal. For years, the two were inseparable. Cal-monster would drag Rochester Q. around the house by his extra long tail, and Rochester Q. would express his love for his devoted companion with a gentle "squeak, squeak".

But Auntie K. worried that Rochester Q. needed friends his own size. And so, with the best of intentions, she went back to the store, and brought home some new characters. Like the adorable Mr. Frog with his big googly eyes. And sweet Ms. Hedgehog, who, despite her spiny quills, is a big ball of love. How could Auntie K. possibly have known that these new creatures would capture Cal-Monster's imagination in new and delightful ways!

And ever so slowly, Rochester Q. fell from his esteemed place in Cal-Monster's world. No longer a cherished companion, he languished at the bottom of a doggie toy chest, holding his breath each and every day in the hopes that Cal would remember how very special their bond was. But alas, Cal-monster continued to ignore poor Rochester Q. in favour of his new plushie, squeaky friends. The honeymoon was over.

Just when poor Rochester Q. didn't think he could stand another day of being ignored...

...the Beast came over for a visit.

Beastie took one look at Rochester Q. and fell in love. Maybe it was the tug rope tail. Maybe it was the soft "squeak squeak" that promised so much love. Maybe it was the feel of that plushy fur between his teeth. Whatever it was, Rochester Q. and the Beast became inseparable. Auntie K. was so happy to know that Rochester Q. had found love again, that she sent him home with the Beast, secure in the knowledge that the two would begin a happy new chapter.

And oh, how the Beast loved Rochester Q. Squirrel. Every single day, he sat and stared at his toy box, waiting for Hubby or I to open it up so he could dig through the balls, the food puzzles, the tug ropes, and the plushy bones until he found that long curly tail. And then he would pant, break into a big goofy grin, pull the tail until Rochester Q. came flying out of the toy chest, and do this:

Followed by a rousing game of tug, like this:

And then he would let go, and patiently wait until Hubby or I would toss Rochester Q. high up into the air for him to catch. And once he rescued Rochester Q. from certain gravity-induced peril, he would do this:

That blur of action is the Beast whipping Rochester Q. back and forth, around and around like a top. Oh, Rochester Q would squeak with delight, and the Beast would answer with a soft growl or a harmless little snarl. Around and around and around and around the Beast and Rochester Q. would go, until the Beast collapsed in a giant heap on the living room floor, like this:

Look at how gently and lovingly the Beast would hold Rochester Q. between his front paws, laying sweet kiss after sweet kiss on the crown of his head, or gently tugging and chewing on his tail to undo the pesky knot at its end. How could I have ever thought that in this sweet pose would be the demise of Rochester Q?

Sigh.  I did not see it coming. One moment, the Beast was licking his best friend. The next I heard "rrr-iiii-pppp." I looked down, but it was too late. There, firmly lodged in the Beast's jaw, was Rochester Q.'s right arm.

"Beastie! What have you done?" I cried. But he was oblivious to his crime. And before I had time to rescue poor Rochester Q., I heard a louder, longer "rrrrrrrrr-iiiiiiiiii-ppppppppp".  When I looked down, a great slash appeared along poor Rochester Q.'s side, and his tennis ball entrails and squeaky heart were spilling out of him.

"Beastie!" I implored. "Please stop this! He's your best friend!" But the Beast's appetite could not be satiated, and he pulled and tugged and tore at Rochester Q's torso until that tennis ball and that heart were free, and Rochester Q. was but a shell of the toy he had once been. Armless and empty, silenced by the cruel removal of his squeak, and covered in a thick layer of dog slobber...

But I have to think that he left us happier than he has been in a long time. In the last three weeks, he must have rediscovered what it meant to be the centre of a dog's universe. Sure, the play was rough and tumble at times, as he was pulled between me and the Beast, thrown high into the air, and dragged up and down the staircase. But I do believe that Rochester Q. knew how happy he was making Beastie. And that this, in turn, made his short time with us worthwhile.

So now, Rochester Q. Squirrel joins the ranks of those who went before him. Like the green Kong Wubba, torn to shreds within a week so that the Beast could get to the ball inside.

Or the pink, plushie Kong Wubba, torn apart tentacle by tentacle so that the Beast could taste that sweet plush coat in his mouth:

And who could forget dear, sweet Mr. Fish, who never once complained when I hid him under the bed so that Beastie could practice his search and rescue skills, and who didn't make one sound while the Beast slowly and methodically de-stuffed him. It still pains me to think about having to put him in the garbage bin so that the Beast wouldn't choke on his insides:

You're in good company, dear Rochester Q. Squirrel. Just do me one favour. Save some room in dog-toy-heaven for Senor Quackers. Because judging from his once-proud tug rope tail, it's only a matter of time for him too...