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Noisy duck causes household disruption aided, abetted by protective dog

By June Mathews

A few years ago, an insurance salesman came to the law firm where I worked to pitch supplemental disability coverage to my fellow employees and me. If I were to mention the name of the company he was representing, it would likely ring a bell. Its TV commercials star an annoying duck.

Among the promotional items scattered across the conference room table was a single Beanie Baby-like duck that when dropped or squeezed, quacked the company name three times with a louder, more drawn-out emphasis on the third quack. Knowing the guy probably had a dozen more like it in his car, I asked if I could have the duck, and he gladly handed it over. The fact that I’d just agreed to purchase one of his policies probably helped.

I thought it would be fun to take the duck home to the Chihuahuas and see their reaction to a talking toy. And at first, it was. Initially curious, they grew hilariously cautious when I dropped it on the floor, and it quacked. But once they grew accustomed to the noise, they actually seemed to like it.

For the next several days, one pup or the other toted the duck around the house, occasionally dropping it or grabbing it in just the right way to set it off. After hearing the repetitive phrase for about the thousandth time, I seriously considered throwing the thing away. But it soon disappeared, and I thought nothing more about it – until I was cleaning the spare bedroom last weekend and found it wedged between the wall and the mattress of the daybed.

You see, the bigger Chihuahua, Dobbie, is somewhat of a hoarder and has several select places around the house into which he stashes toys, bones and whatever else strikes his fancy. He’s particularly prone to stealing socks, golf balls and plastic drinking cups but doesn’t limit himself to those. I once lost a winter scarf, only to discover it a few months later in a back corner of a closet wrapped around two Milk Bones and a rawhide stick.

One of his favorite hiding places is behind the pillows on the daybed, probably because he knows the room is rarely in use. He doesn’t like people bothering his stuff.

In fact, when I found the duck and pulled it out of hiding, Dobbie appeared out of nowhere to snatch it out of my hand.  Since he’d been three rooms away only seconds before, some uncanny dog sense must have told him his privacy was being violated.

But I’m wishing I’d never bothered the blasted thing. Now that it’s back in circulation, the dogs are enjoying it just as much as they did on the first go-round, and it’s driving me crazy.

The duck, loud and vocal as ever, sounds off at the most inopportune moments. For example, I was conducting a phone interview the other day when my interviewee paused in mid-sentence and in a puzzled tone asked, “Do you hear a duck?” I had to admit that I did.

But trashing the toy is a rather dicey proposition since Dobbie now guards it with his life and is willing to fight to keep it. I’m to the point, however, of thinking that getting rid of the dang thing might be worth losing a finger or two.

Sadly I have no one to blame for this situation but myself. I’m the one who asked the salesman for the duck; I’m the one who brought it home and gave it to the dogs; I’m the one who didn’t trash it when I had a chance.

If the phrase, “Be careful what you ask for,” ever meant anything to me, it certainly does now. And I sincerely hope that the next time I ask an insurance salesman for a talking toy, he’ll refuse my request. Better yet, if I’ll just think before I speak and ask him for a quiet little ink pen or pad of paper instead, I can save myself a lot of aggravation in the long run.

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