wanna take it?

When Remix, aka Puppypants, aka The Dog, wants to play, she'll bring you a toy. She's considerate like that, as you probably didn't bring your own. The toy is usually a stuffed animal that has been chewed and ripped and gnawed into a limp and smelly state. If she were an outdoor dog, she might be bringing you a rodent carcass, but she's a spoiled suburban dog, so it's a slobber-laden, half-destuffed yellow whatsit. You're meant to interpret this as affection.

You might assume that since she's brought you the toy, she wants you to take it. But really, she wants you to try to take it. But she knows, and you'll soon find out, that successfully taking it is harder than it looks. The minute you hold your nose and put hand to the toy, she will begin to pull back. You thought you were accepting a gift. Instead, you have accepted a challenge.

Perhaps you have fallen for this ruse before, so you do not try and take the toy. Remix is not phased. She begins to taunt you, to tempt you by chewing on the toy in what is surely a tantalizing fashion. She acts like she is having just the best fun with this toy, wouldn't you like to enjoy such a toy. Wanna take it?, she asks. If you continue to be coy, she will eventually just start pushing the toy against your hand. Go ahead, try and take it.

We were concerned that the dog would not understand the difference between her toys and the baby's toys. As yet, it hasn't been a problem, mostly because the baby is too little to play much with toys. She is just beginning to bat at hanging objects, and when she manages to wrap fingers around something, her way of playing with it is to put it in her mouth. Maybe she and the dog have more in common than I thought.

Susanna does have one toy, a stuffed rattling bee with about six extra wings that have some sort of crinkly substance within the fabric. The parenting books and websites encourage you to dangle a toy just within arm's length, to encourage her to reach for it. Apparently, babies don't start reaching for things until this age because their depth perception is just now kicking in. I've been doing this with the crinkle bee. When I shake it at her, her eyes get big, her legs stick straight out, and her arms shake, and her whole body just says, WOW, a crinkle bee, I must have it. And then she'll attempt to get it, sometimes reaching a bit wide, but eventually making contact.

I was doing this the other day, standing in front of the baby in the bouncer, shaking the crinkle bee in what I was sure was a very tantalizing fashion, when the dog comes up to me to shake her toy. Wanna take it?, I asked the baby. Wanna take it?, the dog asked me. The baby reached for the crinkle bee, and I reached for the whatsit. Soon we were all together in a chain of tug of war. I lost both battles. Maybe someday, I can be cut out of the game altogether, but I don't think the other players are quite ready for that matchup.

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