Our beagle Charlie loves a new toy. If it’s furry or stuffed and it enters our house, he can sniff it out and will whine until we let him play with it.
Back in 2008, I bought my girlfriend a small Barack Obama finger puppet. Melanie was happy about the gift, but Charlie was even more excited, assuming it was for him. He whined and huff and puffed, and then he stared at it with envy as it hung on Melanie’s refrigerator.
Last year I caught a tennis ball while in the stands at a Washington Kastles tennis match in downtown Washington. I brought home the tennis ball and proudly displayed it on our book shelf. Charlie took one glance and decided it had to be his. Even when I hid it deep in the back of my closet, he would sit in front of the door and whine. This lasted for over a day. Eventually, I had to buy a new can of tennis balls and pretend that one of them was the one he was so intent on.
The reason he can’t get near these things is because his way of playing with a toy is to tear it to shreds. Maybe he will first run around the yard with it in his mouth while I chase him. That’s fun and all. But after about 15 minutes he will get down on his belly, toy between his paws, and go to town.
With stuffed toys he is especially meticulous. Charlie will find a weak point on the toy, maybe a rip in the seams or a bulging eye he can grab hold of, and rip the toy open. It is amazing to watch him pull out the stuffing in his mouth, discard it to the side, and go back into the toy for more until it is completely eviscerated.
The other day we were excited to bring home a stuffed duck toy that doubled as a slingshot. I had visions of standing in the backyard slinging this thing for hours. Instead, Charlie fetched it, I chased, then he tore it open and spread the stuffing all over the yard. I traded it for a treat halfway through the disemboweling and hid the duck in my desk. It took the beagle about five minutes to find it and he was sitting in front of the desk whining, begging for more.
The duck still slings, but it just doesn’t have the same luster it used to. And now that the stuffing is gone, Charlie doesn’t have a whole lot of interest. All that anticipation for about 30 minutes of fun.
This, Charlie, is why you can’t have nice things.