Would this headline make the Colbert Report or the Daily Show? Would Fox News give pause in the midst of all the market roller coaster reporting? Would they send John Oliver out to give a snarky interview to investigate whether dogs suffer from bereavement when a beloved toy goes missing? He would scoff and say something about how American dogs need to toughen up and deal with life’s losses. However, after seeing the sad puppy eyes, he might admit that dogs are suffering too in this economy – doghouses under water, stay-cations in the backyard, treat deprivation, increased stress from having to deal with economically shell-shocked owners, and as that cute little commercial shows… there’s no safe place to bury your bones anymore.
Recently, the much loved, much worn soft frisbee that belongs to our year old Golden Irish, Quigley, went missing. It was so much a part of his daily existence, from 6 am wake up until the last potty run of the night that he was almost unrecognizable without it clutched in his mouth. We looked everywhere for it. Despite a giant collection of toys he shares with the other dogs, his Frisbee GPS was always on and he could locate it in a minute if he sensed someone was available to play. He was visibly sad and at a loss when it came time to play. The other balls just didn’t have the same appeal. It couldn’t have just disappeared into thin air, we reasoned. We searched in every nook and cranny he could possibly have dropped it, discovering some new areas to add to our vacuuming list along the way.
Recent storms made me think that it was carried away like Dorothy’s house in a Kansas tornado. I spied over the wall at our chronically absent but impeccably landscaped neighbor’s yard. No sign of the soft, pink 8” saucer of love. Then, by chance, I discovered it floating in the pool skimmer drain trap. I was delighted to see it but unprepared for the level of joy when Quigley spied it too. Without hesitation, he snatched it up and immediately went into a frenzy of legs and paws and much head shaking, to the point where he lost his balance and fell into the deep end of the pool. This was like a little “Snap out of it” slap but only for a second. Bounding out of the pool, he proceeded to do the dog equivalent of a ‘happy dance’ and then viciously shook it, as if to say “You bad Frisbee, where have you been?”. It reminded me of the time my daughter recklessly sped down a bike path, crashing into the bushes. Her dad, watching helplessly, was both mad at her poor judgment and tremendously relieved that she was OK.
If you Google dog addition to toys, you will find hundreds of testimonials of dogs who drag around the same toy for years, have specific preferences for certain toys, and sometimes the bizarre and funny lengths dogs will go to keep their BTF (Best Toy Forever) close to them. They spend a lot of time on their own and it’s natural to think that they would bond with something that doesn’t go to work, leave them for hours -unless it’s lost – or make them do silly tricks for treats. It’s the equivalent of having that favorite Barbie or G.I. Joe when you are little. And we all know that dogs never really grow up.
We could have, and almost did replace the frisbee. It wouldn’t have been the same but would have been accepted in time as it sailed through the air to his waiting catcher’s mitt of a mouth. The worn edges, frayed areas from his teeth, and good doggie smell – all would have been missed and noted. He took his prodigal frisbee to bed with him, sleeping with it tucked under his paws. In the morning all was well with the soft pink disc flying across the yard at 6 am. Like comfort food, a favorite toy soothes the psyche and restores a dog’s faith in man.
John Oliver, go fetch!