Several years ago, in 2009, I was getting some kitty litter at WalMart. While I was wandering through the pet section, I briefly paused at the dog toys. Honestly, what dog owner doesn’t check out dog toys in any store where they are available? Guilty as charged. While I was scanning the dog toys, I happened to see this large blue polka dotted piggie roughly the size and shape of a small football. It had a goofy grin on its little piggie face, and I was immediately drawn to it! Naturally, once I held it in my hands, I had to squeeze it to see what sound would come out of it! It was the most wonderful deep piggie grunt, and I immediately laughed out loud. It was just about $5.00, and I thought Rugby would shred it in a New York minute! But, for $5.00, I thought it might be worth the 5 minutes of laughs we would get from him playing with it. So into my cart it went!
When I shared it with Rugby, he did not immediately share my piggie enthusiasm. I thought he would be delighted with it, but every time it made noise, Rugby jumped and ran….barking at it as he went! It took a couple of days for him to make peace with his piggie. He was so puzzled by it. He wanted to play, but there were many things about it that just didn’t sit well with our dog. First, the deep grunt and puffs of air that blew from his mouth, coupled with the big bright eyes….well, I think Rugby felt as if it was aggressive with him. At least that’s the way Rugby initially reacted to it. But, in a matter of a couple of days, he had figured out how to safely play with it, and it quickly became one of his favorite toys.
The original design of the toy wasn’t great. There was a seam under the piggie’s chiny-chin-chin that would come unglued, and some of the stuffing would inevitably leak out. I tried gluing them back together, or putting duct tape at the broken seam to lengthen their life expectancy. The grunter also wasn’t well made, and many of his early piggies lost their voices fairly quickly. Rugby still played with them, but I could tell that he was really disappointed that they no longer grunted.
His original blue piggie sadly got gutted by Rugby one day when he was left to his own devices and the stuffing poked out of the broken seam. When Rugby saw the piggie remains go into the “big can that smells wonderful but he’s not allowed and things that go in never come back out”….well he was forlorn to say the least. I made another trip to WalMart….this time specifically just to get a piggie for my poochie! No piggies. More trips to WalMart. No piggies. More trips to other WalMarts. No piggies. I was trying not to panic, as this toy had become so very dear to my dog, and I hated the thought of him not having one! I just knew if I could ever find one again, I was buying two of them so that I’d have a backup piggie! So that’s what I did. When they were finally back in stock, I bought extras, so Rugby would have backups when they fell apart, which wasn’t very long in 2009. On the plus side, he had missed his piggie so much, that he took very good care of the ones that followed, and has been very gentle with them ever since.
Stay tuned to “The Rest of the Piggie Story” tomorrow. There’s far more to this story than just a great, inexpensive toy!