On Thursday night, there was a series of doggy disasters, each of which I've been dreading. You see, in the pantry, mainly for nostalgia-related reasons rather than anything remotely logical, is almost every bedtime comfort toy my dog, Jack, has ever owned.
There's a forlorn pair of tiger-striped knotted legs, all that's left of Tiger #1. That one was forfeited, from my own stuffed toy collection, on twelve-week-old Jack's first night away from the pet shop, when he couldn't settle. And so The Ritual began. Carry Tiger into bed, and bring him back out the next morning, where Tiger is exchanged for a Doggy Choc of carob, while Tiger sleeps off his night's adventure in the pantry.
Tiger was quite small - and so was Jack!
Tiger #1 started off as a rather cute, realistic tiger cub, with four potentially yummy legs, two delicious ears and an irresistibly tasty tail. And those cute but dangerous, little acrylic eyes, which eventually had to be removed as less and less of Tiger remained. One morning, there was major drama when Jack had got stuck into Tiger during the night, and eaten a lot of the white nylon wadding. When there's more stuffing inside the wrong animal, it's probably time to "rest" the toy.
It's also highly embarrassing, at the dog-friendly Oberon bed 'n' breakfast establishment, trying to explain that a pathetic pair of knotted legs was called "Tiger", and that carrying Tiger to bed was a sound and Important Nightly Ritual that hopefully would help little doggies feel comfortable in strange surroundings.
The pantry also contains remnants of two tiger-coloured "Chase the Tabby Cat" toys, supposedly almost-indestructible doggy chew toys from the FuzzYard "Neighbourhood Nasties" collection. "Dog tested for safety" and "highly durable, no toy is 100% dog proof", the tag says. Renamed Tiger #2 and Tiger #3, they did actually last quite well; the second Chase was found at a very reasonable discount, and kept in the pantry until Tiger #2 passed his Use By date. A typical Chase lasted at least eighteen months of nightly ragging to within an inch of its life! Jack should apply for a job at FuzzYard! Both Chases were eventually off their faces, so to speak.
Tiger #4 was, in fact, a Tigger: the bouncy tiger character from Walt Disney's "Winnie the Pooh" animated movies. Again, Tigger was found at a discount - and had uniquely embroidered eyes rather than something temptingly edible - and he's lasted as long as the two previous purpose-made dog toys. The night Tigger became impossible to repair - with several gaping wounds spilling out voluminous amounts of delicious white wadding - he had to be replaced by... Emergency Moose.
The moose was a Christmas gift to "the grand dog" from my mother several years ago. He was quite a sturdy dog chew toy, sure, but looked nothing like a tiger (or a cat, or even a Tigger). Yes, he was sturdy unless if you're a Jack Russell, whose mission in life is to consume as much white wadding as you can in a lifetime. (This stuff does wonders for a Jack Russell's digestive system, I must add.) Now-named Tiger #5, the eventually antler-less Emergency Moose went to God on Wednesday night. But I forgot..
Clockwise from lower left: Tiger #1's legs, faceless Chase the Tabby Cat #1, faceless Chase the Tabby Cat #2, the armless Tigger, the now-pathetic Emergency Moose and the long forgotten Roadkill Skunk (whom Jack selected for himself from "Pet Barn" one day. A daytime toy, Roadkill Skunk made amazing car accident sound effects and for that he just had to have his head ripped open in the first week).
In desperation, I retrieved Tigger from the pantry last night and tried to patch him with fabric Elastoplast before bedtime. To no avail. Jack barely did a doubletake at the return of a previous armless (or is that 'armless?) Tiger, raced Tigger into the bedroom, under the bed, and promptly ripped the Elastoplast straight off - and down the hatch it went! To join the previous night's mooseful of wadding, I presume.
Hmmmm. Well, I wasn't willing to give poor, terrified Christmas Penguin a turn at being a tiger impersonator, especially since he was purchased as a Christmas decoration - despite the rope suspiciously tied around his neck and the wording of his tag:
I mean, I know how few nights poor ol' Santa Claus himself had in him:
Santa didn't last long enough to get called Tiger # Anything. I retrieved Disemboweled No-Bum Tigger from under the bed and took a gamble, handed Jack his (so far long-lasting) daytime "Squeaky ring", said "Take Tiger into bed," and - despite a brief moment of confusion - off they went.
And so, seven years on, I present... Tiger #6:
Now Jack (and I) will be grateful for the return of #2. That other #2, which has been apparently waylaid by nylon wadding...