One day soon after I had brought little Fritz home, I walked into the house and found him vigorously humping my pink Valentine teddy bear. It was rather like coming upon your toddler doing something dreadfully intimate on your living room floor. I didn’t know if I should stop him or walk right on by like nothing was happening. But since he rolled his eye at me meaningfully, I detoured on by and went straight to the half-dozen or so dog training, behavior, breed, vet and psychology books Fritz’s arrival in our home had seemed to warrant buying, and read up on dominance, frustration, and sexuality in male dogs. Nowhere did I find reference to a 9 week old puppy humping a teddy bear with such happy abandon, per se. But I read enough to conclude I’d rather whatever he was doing he did to his teddy bear than to my leg. When my husband Doc ( who was, like most men, raised in a barn) came home and saw him hopping up and down and falling off the bear, he just laughed and said we better get him a bigger one.
At first it was humiliating to go to the Thrift store to purchase ever larger and sturdier teddy bears for Fritz. Standing in the aisle sorting through the stuffed animal bin alongside the 7 year olds seemed so sordid. Sometimes I found a Miss Piggy or Dino or Kermit the Frog, and I would catch myself speculating as to which of their attributes Fritz would appreciate most. Then there was the day I scored a giant Garfield, and as I tossed it triumphantly into my cart, I had to admit to myself that I was pimping for a dog.
New dog owners seem programmed to get used to anything, though, and eventually I became expert at finding just the right replacement for the love interest Fritz had lately disemboweled. I never knew what, exactly, happened to end the relationship; I would just come home to another mangled and shredded teddy bear, with Fritz lying in the middle of the pile, guilty pleasures written all over his face. One doesn’t like to think to think too deeply about these things.