Today, I’m going to do a change-of-pace, change-of-face blog. I’ve always promoted my books or written some highly sensation something-or-other, but today, I’m going to reveal my soft, sentimental side (snicker softly, if you wish)…with the story of Shaggles and Clifford:
They were two stuffed animals…a dog and a cat, though most people thought the cat was a cream-colored bear because he was so shaggy. Never mind the fact that he had long whiskers and pointed ears and a long tail. He looked like a bear so he must be a bear.
The dog was found on a low concrete wall at a playground. Some child had left him there.
I saw him while watching by granddaughter celebrate her fourth birthday—climbing up the ladder, sliding down the slide, landing on her knees in the sandbox—again and again. I’m a sucker for lost animals, living or toy, but I ignored this one. “Someone will be back for him,” I told myself. “That child will be wanting his doggie.” So, after the party was over I went on my way.
But I didn’t forget that little stuffed dog.
That night it rained.
The next afternoon, I returned to the park. The dog still lay there, now a sodden mass of curly cloth. So. No one came back. No one searched for him. Or missed him. I picked him up. “Okay, buddy, want to go home with me?”
I gave him a bath, tossed him in the dryer, examined his sales tag. He was a Ty, Inc. creation. Not a beanie-baby, but manufactured by the same company. I named him Clifford, after a certain Big Red Dog. My granddaughter welcomed him with open arms though he stayed with me when she wasn’t around. When my son traveled back to Nebraska, it was asked—Does Clifford go or stay? I made a choice. Clifford flew to Lincoln inside my son’s suitcase along with Shaggles.
That’s my segue to talk about Shaggles. The cat-who-looks-like-a-bear. He was discovered at one of those Sidewalk Sales held by stores after a holiday, to get rid of the inventory they couldn’t sell during the season. I saw him lying face-down in a bin with candles and Christmas ornaments, went on my way, looking in other stores at other items. What did I need with a stuffed cat, anyway?
At closing time, I came back.
“I knew you wanted him,” the man with me, my beloved, stated.
“How?” I asked.
“Because you picked him up and patted him. You always do that.”
I looked at the tag. Shaggles. $35.00 marked down to $15.00, marked down to $5.00. How embarrassing.
He bought Shaggles for me.
Two days later, I had written the short story Sidewalk Sale, with Shaggles as the star of a piece about an unwanted toy and a woman who survived a deathcamp to find him. A few years later, Amazon bought it for their Amazon Shorts feature. Even later, I gave him up to let him accompany Clifford to Nebraska to live with my granddaughter.
Shaggles and Clifford are back now, reunited in the room I share with my granddaughter. A lot worse for wear but happy perhaps because—the lost dog and the cat who became the subject of a short story—are doing what they were created to do.
Be a child’s pets.
Toni V. Sweeney
...where the Willing Suspension of Disbelief Reigns Supreme...
when the Condor Returned, from Lyrical Press
Bargain with Lucifer, from Class Act Books
Dark God Descending, from sams dot publishing