Well Loved

We've all heard the warnings about anthropomorphizing animals, but what about stuffed animals? Today, I found myself feeling sorry for one of my pug's stuffies. It seems that Waffles had gotten ahold of it and ripped out an eye and was now working on the second. My mother, the overly concerned pug Grandma, found out and insisted on removing the second eye, so her beloved pug-grandbaby wouldn't succeed in working on it and accidentally choke.
Mom's mutilation of the poor creature was probably worse than anything Waffles could have done to it, but in the end she pulled out a half-chewed eyeball, which  had a wet, gooey, fleshy feel even if it was plastic. The eyeless, stuffed dog looked sad, forlorn, blind.

"It used to look so cute. I feel sorry for it," my mother said.

I tried to console myself with the fact that it belonged to the pugs and they had a right to do with it as they pleased and this was the consequence, but then I got to thinking of the day I brought the fluffy dog home to Alfie. Since Vader wouldn't share his humpie doggie with her, she needed a stuffed dog of her own. Because she was only a puppy then, the little golden dog dwarfed her two times over. She loved to drag it around and shake it, but she never tried to eat its eyeballs. They say a dog's life is too short, but this poor stuffed dog's youth was even shorter -- blinded, stuffing pouring from its eye sockets, it didn't look well-loved, it looked abused. Then again, it kind of was.

Maybe we should have let nature take its course and not interfere. If Waffles had removed the eyeball herself, would the stuffed dog look less injured? Would it have worn the expression of a cherished toy instead of a decomposing zombie? Aren't dog toys intended to be torn apart, but by dogs not people?
This stuffed dog was not the first I worried over. As Vader's condition started to worsen, I often wondered what I would do with his humpie doggie. He had loved that stuffed animal his whole life -- playing with her, sleeping with her, even getting frisky with her. I thought of putting her on a shelf with his ashes, but I wondered if that was fair --stuffed dogs are meant to be loved and played with, not just sit abandoned on a shelf. The vet solved the problem by telling me that Humpie Doggie could be cremated with Vader, and she was. I know, now instead of sitting next to the ashes, she was ashes, but this seemed appropriate somehow. She and Vader were together, both had been loved.

Okay, I know, this is kind of pathetic. These are inanimate objects, I realize. I blame it on my Mom who read me too much Velveteen Rabbit  as a child. But, it is also she who taught me that love is love in all its varied forms and while these animals may only be made out of cloth and stuffing, they provide their flesh-and-blood counterparts with hours of pleasure and comfort and in some cases as with Vader and Humpie Doggie, something that closely resembles love.

They also say that love sees no wrong, so maybe Waffles and Alfie won't notice that their stuffie no longer has eyes. Maybe it doesn't matter that my Mom interfered. The fate of the dog was always the same. It was meant to be chewed and torn and to wear love's battlescars.