goober smile.

Being female, I periodically get emails that are full of pictures of cute animals. I resent the implication that just because I am designated double-X, I enjoy looking at such things. I mean, really, I am a highly educated, logically-minded woman. I would complain, but awwwwwwww...look at the wittle puppy!

I recently received such an email from a coworker. It was full of dog pictures - dogs wearing hats, dogs snuggling with kittens, dogs making funny faces. There was one picture of a pitbull. It was sitting next to a chair that had been so thoroughly destroyed that it was not even a chair anymore. The dog was smiling. Not that dogs smile in the sense that we do, but pitbulls have huge wide jaws full of teeth, and when they pant, it looks enough like a big goober smile that you'd want to put it in an email and send it to your best girlfriends.

Now I resented the implication that pitbulls were destructive. Okay, fine, my particular pitbull is kinda destructive, but doesn't mean they all are. There are probably some really old ones that you could leave alone with your chair.

Like I told you before, we give Remix stuffed animals to destroy so that she won't turn our chairs into not-chairs. It sorta works. We call them Cartmans, after the first toy, and she occasionally seems to understand what we mean by this word. New Cartman day is a special one in our house. We take her into the spare bedroom where she is generally not allowed to go. Ah, forbidden room with strange unsmelled smells! Then we dump the bag of possible Cartmans on the floor and allow her to pick one. Sometimes she sniffs around indecisively for a while before grabbing one and getting down to the hard work of ripping it open. Sometimes her decision is more immediate. Once she pretended to look at something on the wall before snatching a brown stuffed dog and bolting from the room.

Thus she has selected her new toy, and its days are numbered. The easiest thing for her to go for are almost always the eyes, which are usually hard plastic. Those are pretty much gone within the hour, chewed and then abandoned on the floor. By then, the hull has been breached, and she can start getting the fluff out, which she does by enlarging the hole left by the missing eyes. When you come to visit, our dog will probably offer you a toy that has no face. It is disconcerting.

Aside from being an outlet for pure destructive energy, the Cartmans also are tug toys. You can't tug in earnest, because they'll rip right in half (which is what happened when another pitbull came over one day and played tug). But you can tug a little bit, enough to make Remix really, really happy. You will never win at tug. Opposable thumbs are useful, but they are no match in this game against a wide jaw full of teeth and backed by huge muscles. These dogs evolved to bite and hold on, or rather, we bred them to do that. However, you can occasionally outsmart the dog and get the toy. And then you throw it a few feet away and she joyfully leaps to get it. Then she brings it back, because she wants you to try and take it from her again. Go ahead. Try.

I don't spend more than fifty cents on these things at yard sales. Stuffed animals are as ubiquitous as Christmas tins, the secondhand marketplace is lousy with them. I try to get the ones that are stuffing only. Obviously, the ones with voice boxes or battery packs are right out, but a lot of them have beans in them, either in the body or the feet. I try to avoid these as well, since she would probably swallow them. At the very least, they'd be a pain to clean up. But once I accidentally gave her a green brontosaurus with beans in the feet. I didn't figure it out until I heard them hit the floor in a steady stream, and thus the term "foot beans" was introduced into our house.

Usually if I'm buying Cartmans at a sale, I'm buying a bunch. People who have stuffed animals to sell never have just one. So while I'm standing there, paying for my armload of new-old toys, I tell the seller that they are destined for my dog. No one really responds very well to that. They look a little uncomfortable, as if they're not sure they want to sell them to me anymore. Perhaps they have fond memories of their children sleeping peacefully with those toys. I can't understand being squeamish about something you were selling for a quarter. I dunno, maybe those people don't like dogs.

I went out of town a couple weekends ago. Before I left, Remix had been working on the destruction of a stuffed lamb. When I returned, I asked Josh if she had gotten a new one yet.

"Well, yeah. But I didn't give it to her."


"She got into that room where we keep them. It's a stuffed Snoopy?"

"In a Santa suit?" I had been saving that one for Christmas (SHUT UP, I CAN GIVE MY DOG A FIFTY CENT CHRISTMAS PRESENT).

"No. It had beans in it."

"Oh. That one was not for her. It was mine."

"I'm sorry." He was sorry, but we both know that this is what happens when you live with a dog.

"My ex-boyfriend gave it to me."

"I'm sorry." He was not really sorry anymore. He actually smiled at that.

Remix was ecstatic to see me, as she always is. She immediately came running up, Snoopy hanging limply from her mouth, his face chewed off and beans leaking from his foot. I took it from her and sighed, as it was far too late to salvage the toy. So I threw it across the room and she bounded to get it. Then she came straight back with it clenched in her big goober smile, daring me to try and take it.

No comments: