Some things, when you’re shopping are hard to resist. So hard, that you just have to have them.
I mean, who wouldn’t want a small rubber orange pig with porcine pinprick eyes, which when squeezed, emits a satisfyingly low “oink?”
It’s the kind of “oink” that would liven up a business meeting, vastly improve on a whoopee cushion at parties (so 1970’s) and give a dog a lot of unfeasibly feverish excitement.
Although completely lacking in the canine department, I am still attracted by these frivolous entertainments and when I set eyes on the little porker in Sainsbury’s I immediately thought of Rudi – my friend’s working cocker pup.
He’s a spaniel, my dogs were spaniels and they always appreciated a good dog toy. This might seem bonkers to non pet owners but when I have a dog, or a cat for that matter, they do become part of the family and as such, need fun and treats. Buying for the family for Christmas always included the dog and yes he’d have something to unwrap on Christmas morning. Few of our Christmases have been dignified or quiet or even very adult – which fits in well with the kind of vibe dogs enjoy.
The top five most successful toys my dogs had were….
The remote controlled rat (not really a dog toy but hilarious when you have a dog on the run chased around the furniture by a battery-powered rat)
The dog frisbee – great for the field or the beach but on the beach, dog had difficulty retrieving it, unless in the air, and used to dig frantically, rapidly producing very deep pit and showering unfortunate families with sand and pebbles.
Plastic sausages on a rope which used to be thrown up and caught and danced around with generally in a massive display of blatant showing off.
Squeaky Spitting Image Margaret Thatcher (should really have kept it as a collector’s item but we did so enjoy seeing her all savaged and frothy with dribble).
The squawking furry pheasant (the woman in Petsmart protested to me “I do hope you’re not going to train your dog to HUNT?!! Daft bat.)
A squeaky set of gnashers which allowed Roly to trot around the house flashing everyone a sparkly white Hollywood smile.
The ball with the big red rubber tongue attached. As I type it sounds horribly like some rather racy sex toy but I can assure you it was purely a dog amusement and Rolls looked hilarious carrying it about proudly with six inch tongue sticking out ahead of him. Even so, to avoid embarrassing misunderstandings, I made sure never to leave it lying around in the kitchen for the window cleaner to gawp at. Roly was so fond of it that he buried it. Some future occupant will no doubt unearth it one day and think “Wtf?”
Not all dogs appreciate toys. Some dogs are a bit boring. Some dogs – terriers usually – are independent thinkers who make their own amusements. My brother’s German Shep only ever wanted to fetch a ball or play football. The mission for some dogs is solely Chew-and-Destroy.
Shortly after I acquired the kittens, a pal told me that while dogs have a sense of humour, cats don’t. I didn’t necessarily believe him. While dogs definitely do love larking about and being generally daft, I thought cats must surely sometimes up for some joshing and self-deprecating humour.
Lily, when she’s purry and relaxed, can be manipulated into doing impressions – Yoda being the best. She quite likes having her face re-arranged in an affectionate way.
Leo does an impression of Jim Royle from the Royle family, sitting back in the cushions of the sofa in a most on the sofa with his spotty belly on show and his legs akimbo.
When something hilarious happens, however, he really doesn’t share the joke.
Yesterday for instance, he was intrigued by a small carrier bag half full of loose batteries which was on the living room floor. He stretched his head through the handles to investigate the contents and got the mistaken impression he was trapped.
The next moment he was reversing like a streak of lightning across the room and out of the door and crashed up the stairs at breakneck speed – bag still attached. The noise was very loud indeed – like someone was trashing the attic. He blundered across the landing and there was a final crash as he landed on my desk in the study above and the bag handles finally snapped. We heard the batteries rolling off the desk and hitting the floor.
We were creased up with giggles but upstairs there was silence. Lily had fled in terror and was nowhere to be seen. Twenty minutes later, Leo strolled into the living room, tail held high with an air of nonchalance. Nothing had happened. Nothing to see. He was far too dignified to have a sense of humour about it.
Anyway, I have digressed from the tale of the rubbery porker. So I knew it didn’t look very robust for enthusiastic puppy teeth but as long as my pal kept an eye on him and removed it promptly in the event of it disintegrating into dangerous, swallowable bits, it was fine.
About four hours after my pal took it home she texted “Dogs went crazy. Pig lasted twelve minutes. Nose and snout went first but loads of fun up until then.”
An expensive and only partial success. My challenge this Christmas is to seek out a more durable prez for Rudi.
He needs something indestructable; something on the scale of Zuul in Ghostbusters. I’m thinking a giant realistically-oinking pig…a kind of Porkzilla.
If anyone, while enduring the torment of all the festive crap out there in the High Streets, sees such a toy, perhaps you would let me know?
Alternatively, if you come across a squeaky Zuul, that would do at a pinch.