No more noise, no more fun

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One of my favorite things about my dog, Otto, is that he loves and apparently cherishes his squeaky toys. Unlike dogs I’ve known who feel that the only good squeaker is a dead squeaker, Otto has had squeaky toys that have lasted for years with nary a squeak-ending puncture. Sadly, this trend seems to have ended.

It started with a soft rubber pig that made a realistic, low grunty sound – not incidentally the noise-making toy that created more excitement from Otto than any toy ever had. Otto would do anything for that toy, including a long, arduous chain of behaviors, in order to earn a minute of blissed-out noise-making with that toy. But a moment’s inattention led to the toy getting stolen away by Diamond, my former foster dog, who very quickly chewed the pig’s nose off – and with it, the ability of the toy to make noise. When Otto discovered the theft, and attempted to make the pig grunt, he seemed genuinely puzzled by the “whoosh, whoosh” noise it made instead. He would make the noise, put the toy down, look at the toy carefully, nose it around on the ground, pick it up again, whoosh whoosh, again and again. He was disappointed — nowhere near as excited or as motivated by the toy as he had been before. As soon as the novel “Grunt, grunt” noise was done, so was he.

The toy was such a motivator for him, I took a long drive out of my way to return to the only store where I had ever seen the toy sold, and bought him another one. By this time, Diamond was placed in his new home, and Tito the Chihuahua isn’t a chewer, so I felt safe in handing over the new pig to Otto to enjoy. But within about two minutes, to my surprise, I heard a familiar sound: “Whoosh, whoosh.” What? I investigated and lo and behold, the pig’s nose had been chewed off, as neatly as if Diamond had done it.

A few months went by before I was anywhere near that one pet supply store again. I looked at the pig toy, and the price. Did I dare buy another one? It’s a fragile toy. But he used to treat it so gently; the first one lasted for at least six months before its rhinoplasty. I spent the money.

Sadly, the new toy quickly went the way of the previous two. It’s almost as if he can’t help himself. He loves the grunting noise, but he has to bite the nose off the toy. I won’t buy another, and it makes me almost as sad as it’s made him.

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