My big dog, Darla, loves her toys. Rosa Parks and Blackie Chan are uninterested in playthings. That’s fortunate, because Darla is happy to claim their toys as well. Every day, when she greets me at the door, she has a toy with her. When she thinks I’m mad at her, she brings me a toy. And, though she loves a walk or a ride in the car, she won’t set out without something in her mouth.
That gets to be a problem. because Darla abandons her toys. She leaves them on the roadside when distracted by a sound or a smell. She drops them in the car when the fresh air diverts her attention. She abandons them all over the yard.
Once, I came home to find garbage strewn all over the laundry room. I’d forgotten to put the trash can up onto the washing machine, out of Darla’s reach, before I left. She took advantage of the chance to go through the waste for anything edible or otherwise worthwhile. As I crawled around on the floor gathering up chewed bits of paper, I told her, “Not good, Darla, not good!” Even in the worst situations, I cannot bring myself to say, “bad dog.”
To make amends, Darla brought me a stuffed animal. When that didn’t do the trick, she brought me another. Having depleted her toy basket before I was finished grumbling my displeasure (and while I was still on the floor, cleaning up), she brought me a sofa cushion. That did it! I laughed, and stopped what I was doing in order to give her a hug.
If the toys are not where she can find them, Darla will try to take one of my soft slippers on our walk. She’s terribly disappointed when I won’t let her get away with it. But, though she’s very good about finding toys and other things to bring outside, she never brings them back in.
Before I mow the lawn, especially if the grass is long enough to hide a stuffed bunny, I have to pace the yard, to retrieve what is hidden there. In order to keep her toy basket stocked, I check the car regularly for things dropped in there. I know several things have been left along the road, and I watch for them, but rarely ever find them if I don’t see them fall. A wander around the yard will always produce a good assortment, though.
Darla is a good girl, but where her toys are concerned, she lives her life with abandon!