Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A present only a dog could love

Yesterday it dawned on me that I remember telling people when we first started sharing news of the pregnancy that my due date was "Nov. 10th, but we're hoping for the 13th because it's Toby's birthday."

Now it just seems like a sadistic joke I played on myself.

We celebrated Toby's second year of life with lots of extra furry kisses and hugs, a look back through his adorable puppy photos, watching him toss around a new rawhide bone with glee and me promising to resurrect all of the stuffed animals in the toy graveyard.

As Toby has grown, his penchant for violently shaking the crap out of his stuffed animals has grown, too. It's almost as if we're not playing rough enough with him, so he takes his latest victim by an appendage and shakes his head back and fourth until it flies out of his mouth at any random trajectory then he happily pounces after it.

The result, after weeks or months of abuse, is typically a torn seam. And if we don't stop it at that, he will dig out all of the stuffing and spread it around so it looks like a crime scene of white fluff.

When a toy bites the dust, instead of throwing it out, I toss it in a drawer with the other casualties. Then, every once in awhile, I dig out a needle and thread and give all of them new life.

They never quite look the same -- sometimes I have to stitch up a missing ear or an eye -- but Toby doesn't care. It's like revisiting all of his old friends at once. A stuffed animal reunion party. With lots of good war stories.

The wait for each toy nearly kills him. I pile all of them on the coffee table in the living room, settle in on the couch and work on them one by one. Toby doesn't understand, of course, why he can't just leap up and unleash his wrath on the mound, but he does understand that the table is strictly off limits. So he just sort of paces in a frantic circle, every once in awhile letting out a muffled cry like, "Pleeeease, pleeease, PLEEEAAASSEE CAN I HAVE THEM?"

"Patience, Toby," I tell him, laughing. "You can have this one in a minute."

Eventually he keys in on the one I'm holding, leaps up on the couch and sits as close to me as he can without actually crawling under my skin. Then he employs his most mastered technique, pitiful-looking eyes, and nudges an inch at a time toward the toy, sometimes extending his tongue to see if maybe he can get away with just. licking. it.

"Ah," I say, and the mere syllable forces him to snap his tongue back into his mouth and let out a deep sigh. "Not yet."

By the time I'm tying a knot in the thread, his interest is so piqued that the energy is practically bursting out of his tiny body. His tail nub is flailing, every muscle shaking in anticipation of that first toss. Then, finally, finally, I give it a heave across the room and he takes off so fast that it leaves me wondering whether he was ever even sitting next to me.

Then, as if right on cue, he greets his old friend as only Toby can.

By violently shaking the crap out of it.

And I know it'll be back in the toy graveyard soon.

Happy birthday, buddy. May you have many, many more.


Jennifer said...

Happy Bday Toby! He's such a cutie pie.

kristin said...

Dogs are crazy with stuffed animals. I'm surprised you can repair them. My brother has a dog that rips them up so much you can't even tell what kind of animal it used to be. Toby must love you a little more for fixing up all his toys :)

sarah said...

My mom sews up all of our dog's toys. He just sits next to her whining incessantly and quivering until she gives up the goods. It's sooo cute!!

the plainsman said...

To him , it must be even better the second or third time around!

Happpy Birthday to the little guy!

Christine said...

Hey! It was my dog's birthday too! We celebrated with a cupcake from a dog bakery. Definitely a once in a while thing... we are not one of those people that pampers their dogs with gourmet meals and treats.
On another note, can't wait to hear some good news and see pictures of your daughter!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Toby!!!
You know don't you that you will have to share a birthday with your little sister. Even if you don't have the same birthday it will be so close that your mom & dad won't want to have 2 partys so that kinda sucks. But just think of all the new toys you have to shake.. h
Have a great day. Oh and Kelly and Jerry too.

Randall said...

What a cutie - and so photogenic!

Anonymous said...

that's love...sewing up mutilated stuffed animals. :)

My cat has been carrying around the same tiny stuffed cat toy for 3 years now. In all that time she's never so much as punctured any part of it...though she drowns it in her water dish at least once a week. We're not sure if she just wants to give it a bath, or if she wants it dead.

LeslieAnn said...

Aww, he must love you so much for that. Happy birthday Toby!

I'd love to see video of this violent shaking routine.

julie said...

Happy birthday little buddy.

Suzy said...

Aw! Happy Birthday Toby!!
We call the toy stuffing "cream filling" b/c that's what the 'kids' go for first. Leroy (our big dog) is a squeaker fiend, he'll rip a toy apart just to get that little plastic aparatus, then he'll just keep it in his mouth and squeak it to annoy the other dogs!
I've got cetain stuffed that have to be kept WAY up high, since I'm saving them for the baby. Sometimes I'll find the dogs just staring at the top of the computer desk longingly. ;)

janice said...

Happy Bday, Toby!!

Emmy said...

Good for you, Toby! Happy B-Day!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Toby. I'm glad you won't have to share your day with the interloper.
Speaking of which, is mommy in labor, because this is the day I picked.

chelsea said...

Aww happy birthday Toby! I fix my dog's toys too. He gets so excited when he hears the closet door opening and sees his toys atop the sewing basket.

Emilee said...

Happy birthday Toby! :]

Kristin said...

He's so adorable!
Happy Birthday Toby!


Ray said...

Awww, a BIG happy birthday to Toby. I love the way you describe him when you write, it's too cute. I also love the way that puppies truly are baby's--- just with fur (hehe). No matter what anyone says, it's true. =)

Take, care.