All dogs have their favourite toys, but unfortunately these toys are the ones whose lives are destined to be short and painful. They must endure being tugged, chewed, disemboweled and ultimately decapitated or mortally wounded. Some manage to escape into the depths of the dog’s bed or under the fridge, but even these are eventually sniffed out to meet their fate. It is never play time for a dog’s toy.
When I trained with Trudy, my Guide dog Instructor warned of the dangers of giving dogs soft toys because their inner stuffing can potentially choke a dog. Likewise if a squeaker from a toy becomes lodged in your dog’s throat it can be fatal.
I took note of my Instructor’s advice and endeavoured not to buy Trudy any soft or squeaky toys. But Trudy is a seasoned thief, and it wasn’t long before I caught her stealing my own cuddly toys from the bedroom. (Yes, I do love teddy bears, and frogs, and beanies..!). My old favourites began to lose the shine on their fur and to develop a slightly bedraggled, manky appearance. Occasionally I would discover one of them lying dead in another room. In the end I decided that I would buy Trudy a couple of soft toys to play with under supervision.
Three and a half years later I have some gruesome scenes imprinted on my memory. Last Summer for example I bought a large dog-shaped doorstop. One morning I was shocked to discover that Trudy had blinded the dog and totally defaced its snout. I have had to remove it from my lounge because it is too disturbing. Its empty eyes and ripped snout speak of dastardly deeds. Was Trudy ensuring that the doorstop dog would never take her place as my Guide dog?! Suffice to say that the motives of Labradors are not always clear-cut.
In addition to the eye-gauging incident there have been numerous spontaneous massacres resulting in limbs and heads strewn all over the floor. Wads of stuffing have appeared in the most unlikely places. Eyes, ears and tails are frequently left abandoned in the hallway. Many toys have ended their sad lives in the bin. But there are some characters which have been consigned to the Sick Room, AKA “The Invalid Box”. These are the all-time favourites which have treasured memories embedded in their remaining body parts, and which I am unable to throw away. The Invalid Box is a very macabre collection indeed. Several of Trudy’s “Invalids” are in fact headless, and many are just a torso.
Trudy’s Invalid Box is now bursting at the seams. With this in mind I have reached a momentous decision. I have decided to undertake a mammoth project to repair those Invalids which have enough body mass to tolerate a needle and thread. I am hoping that Trudy’s excitement at being reunited with some of her loved-ones will overcome her critical eye – for the truth is I cannot sew to save my life. In fact, I cannot even thread a needle. But with the help of the RNIB shop (from which I’ve purchased an automatic needle-threader), Amazon and Google, I have high hopes.
Some of the torsos may find themselves attached to different limbs from before, and some may even end up with more limbs than they started with. But Trudy (fingers crossed!) will be gobsmacked to see the return of such legends as Myrtle the Turtle (the prize she won at the Guide dog of the Year Awards 2011). Myrtle unfortunately suffered multiple organ failure in the early Autumn.
If the Invalid Project is a success, I may progress to sewing up holes in my own skirts and darning my Trudyfied socks. The days of asking friends to mend things for me could soon be a thing of the past. That would really boost my confidence. Who knows what lies ahead in the sewing sphere of 2012? Watch this crafty space!