Ivan does not shred or destroy his stuffed animals, which is a mystery because he happily shreds all paper products, including but not limited to magazines, cards, books – both paper and hardback, shopping bags, toilet paper, paper towel, and tissues. However his stuffed animals are not gutted and dismantled. Instead, they are carried around as he gallops in circles through the house. He greets us at the door with a stuffy, he carries one while he runs circles waiting for meals, and when we leave, he grabs a stuffed animal and runs a few laps through the house before alighting on the back of the couch to watch us drive away.
Ivan’s toys do not always enjoy a tranquil worry free existence. We throw the stuffed animals and he brings them back to us so we can make them repeatedly fly through the air and crash against a wall or sail over the piano while Eric is playing. Floppy appendages simply do not survive. All plastic noses are proactively removed, so many of his stuffed animals have no noses, just a small mended place where a nose used to be. The stress of being dragged out of the toy basket and shaken awake, thrown through the air, and carted about the house tends to exact a price and the toys look a bit careworn after a while. Seams loosen and ears get ragged and chewed.
When the toys need medical attention, they go to the toy clinic on top of the fridge to wait for surgery. I am often behind on my surgical duties. Some toys get special treatment and do not have to wait in line, some more complicated cases can be delayed, waiting for a larger window of time on the surgical schedule. Several of Ivan’s favorites have been repaired multiple times, some with extra seams and the occasional graft to save a severely damaged spot were the fabric around the seams gives way.
Once a year our subdivision holds a neighborhood yard sale, which is the perfect opportunity to stock up on stuffed animals for Ivan. I can usually find teddies and other assorted animals that have neither long fluffy hair nor thin terrycloth hides. Just basic stuffed animals with shortish ears and sturdy arms and legs. I stuff them in pillow cases and throw them in the washer. When they come out of the dryer all soft and clean, I remove plastic noses and present Ivan with a new stuffy or two, reserving a few to trade when one of the regulars needs surgery.