This is our dog Lucy with the new toy she got for Christmas. I figured that this, like all of her other toys, would last a little while. She'd bite it, chew it, squeak it, throw it around, etc. One time we gave her a plastic hamburger which was bitten into five million pieces only minutes after she got it. So I figured that this plastic tiger would last at least for Christmas Day.
When we gave Lucy the toy amidst all of the Christmas unwrapping and opening present frenzy, she suddenly got very nervous. She started pacing. She was panting. She was crying. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. Finally, we decided that the toy was not really working out, so I put it away in the cupboard while we went to church.
When we got back, I decided to see how she would do with the tiger. Instead of her normal behavior of pulling apart the toy until she can get the squeaker out of it, she was incredibly gentle with it. She carried it around in her mouth, but never once squeaked it. She was never at all rough with it. If anything, it seemed to upset her. She cried and whimpered. That night, she went to bed with her new toy and never let it out of her sight.
It's been two days, and she is still totally attached. We think that she has adopted this as her baby. She won't go outside without her tiger. She sleeps with her tiger. She makes sure that he's close by at all times. Just now, someone came to the front door. She was sleeping on the couch with her tiger, and when she tried to get up, she bumped the tiger, made it cry, and stopped in mid-bark. She never stops in mid-bark, but we figure that she was upset about making her baby cry.
I thought this was so odd that I checked around online and found that this is quite common for female spayed dogs which never had pups. They adopt a stuffed animal, "take care of it" for awhile, and then eventually decide it's old enough to be on its own.
On a related note, I recently heard about this story on the radio. The Red Sox closing pitcher for the 2007 World Series got the game ball, but subsequently lost it. He now blames his dog, Boss, for chewing it to shreds.
We'll see if "Baby" gets ripped up any time soon.