Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goodbye to a treasure

The weasel went out with the garbage.  It was an important member of our family but it had seen its day.  It had been sewn up so many times, that there was nothing left of its face.  When I found more stuffing hanging out of Cookies’ mouth, I decided the time had come.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  The weasel had been beloved for almost three years, from the day our two-pound puppy arrived.   Since then, we have accumulated a basket of toys and each one has a specific purpose.  There’s the comfort toy, the squeaky toy, the catch toy and the run-around- proudly-with-it-in-our-mouth toy and then toys that are fun to dig through while we look for the really useful toys.  The weasel was the tug-of-war toy.  It was perfect.  Light, long and easy to grasp.  It had a resilient spirit, a bit like the British during World War II.  Even so, there were times when I hated that weasel.  For instance, when I’d collapsed into a chair after a long day and was nursing a cup of tea.  The intrusion of the weasel came with a tap on my legs and a look down into round, brown beseeching eyes and tiny teeth clamped onto the weasel’s neck – always the neck.  The tail was left for my outstretched hand.  

As soon as I grabbed the weasel’s lower extremities, my sweet little, now seven pound, dog, would turn into a ferocious competitor, snarling, growling and holding her own.  The book said that I should only let her win 10% of the time so that I can show her who’s boss – alpha dog and all that – and so the game went on until she let go and I threw the weasel as far as I could manage without spilling my tea.  If I were lucky, she’d chase after it and turn her attention elsewhere.  If I were unlucky, the weasel would return with agonizing regularity.

Still, you have to love an object that makes your dog so happy, which is why the weasel had so many remedial stitches in it.  I often tried to shift Cookie’s affections to the latest green toy – organic materials, water-based dyes, nothing harmful to swallow – but she has a strong loyalty gene and overlooked all the weasel’s shortcomings.  She loved it, warts and all.

It was a Thursday night when I decided it had to go.  I knew the garbage was being picked up early in the morning which ensured that I wouldn’t be tempted to try any messy retrieval.  I looked Cookie in the eye and placed the weasel in the bin.  It was the end of an era.  An era that had included two near-death experiences for my puppy but an era that also included falling in love with her older sister, learning how to swim, traveling on a plane, sleeping on the conference table so she wouldn’t be excluded from meetings and relishing a raw food diet.  

The garbage trucks were there early.  Cookie and I both woke at 6:00 am to the dragging of the bins and the reverse siren.  I said a silent goodbye to the weasel; Cookie headed towards her toy basket.  After a few rummaging sounds, a turtle appeared on the bed.  It was small and light with four dangling legs.  Not a bad substitute.  Since then we’ve tried a number of animals – a frog with an elongated mid-drift, a mouse, a duck, an octopus and a camel.  So far, nothing has quite hit the mark but I know we’ll get there.  It’s clear that Cookie isn’t living in the past; she’s moving on with life.
Cookie with her comfort toy, an ancient lion.

No comments: