When my son was 6 months old, I saw the cutest stuffed dog in a greeting card shop. It was about 7 inches long and part-filled with stuffing, part-filled with beans. It was a sort of cream/yellow colour and came complete with leather-like red collar and house. My son loved it. When he learned to talk, he named him ‘Doggie.’ That little dog never left my son’s side. He slept with it and took it everywhere. It was his friend and favourite plaything. When he decided to stop nursing, he used Doggie as his comfort; he pressed his closed lips to Doggie’s nose and made a little movement with his lips similar to suckling. He did this a lot, especially when tired or ill. That Doggie has been through the washing machine many, many times.
We also took Doggie on trips with us, and our trips to America were no exception. Last year, when my son was 3, we packed a little carry-on for him, and of course, Doggie was packed as well. I say packed, but of course Doggie never saw the inside of the bag, at least not for long, as he was always in Stiggy’s arms, usually pressed to his lips.
This was the year that I bought Stiggy’s bedding. I had bought him the cutest set from Target, with brightly coloured automobiles. The only problem was, they didn’t have the matching sheets in the size we needed. So, we made a trip to Columbus to go to another Target. We went, and happily they had the sheets. At some point, Stiggy asked me to put Doggie in my handbag. I shoved him in a side pocket and forgot about him. Before beginning the 80-mile trip home, I stopped at a petrol station to fill up. As we were pulling out, Stiggy asked for Doggie. Well, I couldn’t find him. I pulled over and searched the car, went back to Speedway and looked around…nothing. We went back to Target, searched the car park, walked around the shop, retracing our steps, and asked at Customer Services if a stuffed dog had been handed in. Nothing. Feeling terribly sorry for Stiggy, I bought him a replacement. It most definitely wasn’t the same; the nose wasn’t right for his comfort nuzzling.
I cried the whole way home. That Doggie probably meant more to me than it did to Stiggy. Needless to say, he was devastated, too. He kept asking for his Doggie, but bravely, he did not cry.
When we got home, I was bereft. That may sound a bit silly, but so many memories were tied to that little toy, and it broke my heart to think of it lying around somewhere, being kicked around or thrown away.
I phoned Target the next day. Nothing. I even thought about making up ‘missing’ posters to put up at the shop. We wanted that stuffed dog back so badly. At night, Stiggy would ask for it. He looked so sad. My husband, who was in England, went back to the shop to see if they still sold them, but they didn’t. He also scoured the internet looking for a replacement, but the ones he found, although similar, were far too big.
I called Target every day for 2 weeks. Finally, I had to accept defeat. There was no way the dog was going to show up after that long.
Another week went by and we were planning a trip to COSI in Columbus. I decided I’d give Target one last try. I described the toy to the lady who answered as a little yellow stuffed dog. Nope. There was a yellow duck, but no yellow dog. There was, though, a cream dog. I described it in more detail, and amazingly, it was our Doggie! Oh, the happiness I felt at that moment.
I did not tell Stiggy that Doggie had been found. And I’d never been so anxious to get anywhere in my life. We pulled into the Target parking lot, and do you know, that little stinker knew we were coming to get his Doggie. That was such a happy day. And we are very careful with Doggie now. If he goes out with us, he stays in the car.
Not too long ago, I came across the book Dogger by the amazing children’s writer and illustrator Shirley Hughes. It is a lovely, heart-warming story that very much resembles what happened to our Doggie.