Formerly one-eared bunny.
So Alec had this pink bean bag bunny. I can’t remember where he got it, or more accurately (because he wasn’t in the habit of obtaining his own toys, unlike his brother Kobi, who was a legendary forager and often found treasured items in the street), where I got it for him. It might have been one of the office toys at ALDF in California. Anyway, I remember bringing it to him when he was in the vet clinic following the emergency spinal surgeries that left him hospitalized for two weeks, so it must have been around the time he became paralyzed. He never showed much interest in the toy (it didn’t squeak or do anything interesting), except once, when he nibbled the bunny’s right ear cleanly off. After said ear amputation he never bothered with the bunny again. I’m not sure why I even held onto it; there were lots of toys he liked better and actually played with. Maybe because I thought it was morbidly adorable the way he removed the bunny’s ear so precisely like some twisted shepherd surgeon. So I kept the one-eared bunny, and it lived at the bottom of the toy basket.
Last night I pulled a bag of Alec’s toys out of the closet. I did not want to offer them to Teagan at first in case she immediately destroyed them. I have his favorite “blue thing” safely tucked away in a box for the time being, but I decided to bring a few of the other toys out. I wasn’t so worried about her destroying them now since Teagan has shown minimal interest in toys thus far. Also, I am more comfortable now with the toys being used again, which yes, includes possible destruction. They aren’t doing anyone any good in the back of my closet. And I liked seeing them out again.
[And of course the topic of what to do with all the “stuff” after a loved one dies could easily be a whole other series of blog posts. It is something I grappled with and have handled – and not handled – in various ways depending on the object in question. But, as usual, I digress!]
I tried to play with Teagan with the “new” toys last night but she wasn’t interested, which didn’t surprise me too much. But this morning she got a wild hair and grabbed one-eared pink bunny and started chomping on him a little. She suddenly was very interested in him! I was watching her carefully to make sure she did not rip him open since there were those beanie thingies inside when I noticed she appeared to be chewing intently on his other ear. Next thing I knew, bunny’s remaining ear had been bitten clean off!
Well done, Teagan! It was a team effort between her and the brother she never met; together she and Alec turned pink bean bag bunny into a grisly earless freak. Oh and after she chewed his ear off, she lost interest in the bunny, just like Ali. I thought it was pretty adorable. Out of all the ways Teagan could have reminded me of Alec, the weird and unlikely continuity in this cutely macabre act delighted me.
Finishing what Ali started: post amputation; severed ear is next to her left leg.
I like this story because I was recently reflecting upon how Teagan reminds me of Alec hardly at all. I wasn’t sure what to expect; they are both German shepherds after all. While I neither dreaded nor looked forward to them being similar, I prepared myself for there to be freakish similarities in their personalities just owing to the breed quirks, and for the possibility that I might feel like she was channeling him or something. Not at all. Her personality is very different. Teagan is calm where Alec was anxious, and laid back in ways that he was neurotic. She chases birds, of which Alec took no notice, but not sticks, with which he was obsessed. She is afraid of the grating on sidewalks, but does not bark at ocean waves. Much to my chagrin, Teagan is even less interested in cuddling than Alec was (although I hold out hope that this will change with time!). These are just a few differences. Besides personality traits, she really just has a whole different energy.
Although I wasn’t necessarily expecting it (not that I don’t think animals are individuals, on the contrary! But breeds do share traits), I like that she is so different, so much her very own unique self. I find it comforting that the way Teagan reminds me of Alec, the way she makes me feel close to him, is not in her personality so much as the feeling she engenders in me, the sunshine she has brought back into my life. But today a similarity did emerge, and it made me smile: they both have a propensity for biting the ears off pink bean bag bunnies.
“And my work here is done.”