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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Our beagle and his destruction of toys

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.

Sheri Farley June 14, 2011 at 11:43 AM
I can SO identify! Within the first 6 months of having adopted Hannah, aka 'the horror hound', we lost 3 sofas! One day I came home to find a foot of 'snow' in the living room - Hannah had shredded a down cushioned sofa right down to the frame. Seriously, a wooden frame was upside down in the middle of a sea of white! The other two sofas also succumbed to the fatal 'forget to cage Hannah' error. She has matured somewhat and we now characterize her as 'exuberant'!
Kieta Mall Skoglund June 14, 2011 at 02:35 PM
This duck was our dog's FAVORITE toy until she figured out how to shred it (took about a month), so we bought her the frog this past Sunday. Took her about an hour figure out how to rip out all the stuffing and find the squeaker!! So I can relate too!!
Adam Gerard June 14, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Wow, this is a hilarious story and yet I can't even imagine what I would do if I walked home to that. I'm glad Hannah has gone from 'destroyer' to only 'exuberant!'
Adam Gerard June 14, 2011 at 07:07 PM
We have had luck with some Kong-made plush toys. They don't have any stuffing but they do have a velcro opening where you can stuff either treats for the dog to go after or replaceable squeakers. The toys are very strong and since there isn't any stuffing our beagle hasn't had a huge desire to rip them apart: http://vpri.me/kbU1wD. Highly recommend them. Also, this dragon has lasted a long time and seems to be built tough, though for whatever reason our beagle hasn't ever even tried to rip it apart: http://amzn.com/B001FNZG96. The reviews on Amazon seem to disagree with me about its toughness.

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