There are not a lot of human babies in my family at the moment, but there are a lot of fur babies, and we treat them just as good as we would treat the humans.

Every year, for as far back as I can remember, the pets we have around the house have always gotten a present on Christmas morning. In the past, they have gotten anything from sweaters, to treats, to chew toys.

About three years ago, my mom’s best friend, Carla York, bought Christmas presents for mine and my sister’s dogs. At the time, I had two dachshunds, Layla and Murphy, and my sister, Nicole, had her dachshund, Dexter. Carla bought three elongated toys that were each in the shape of a different animal.

One toy was a blue and gray elephant, another was a pink and white pig, and the third toy was a white and yellow duck. Being stereotypical, me and my sister wanted the colors to be appropriate with each dog’s gender. So, Nicole and I automatically assigned the only pink toy to the only female fur baby.

Of course, by the end of the day, the dogs had chosen their favorite toy on their own, regardless of the color. Eventually, it became obvious that Layla favored the yellow and white duck. She quickly laid claim to it, and she hasn’t shown any real interest in any other toy since then.

Everywhere Layla goes, she has her duck with her. She sleeps with it, takes it with her when she goes outside and she even growls at other dogs for getting too close to it. Some days, she won’t even put the duck toy down to eat; instead, she puts it in her food bowl and eats around it.

Nobody in my family knows why Layla likes that particular toy as much as she does, but one thing we do know is that we can never let anything happen to it. My mom has made the comment that it’s going to be a sad day when something happens to Layla’s duck, so now I think mom is subconsciously on a mission to find a replacement for the duck just in case that day does come.

Every year since the duck came along, mom has given Layla and the other fur babies in the family a small toy for Christmas, and every year, Layla neglects her new toy and opts to play with the duck.

I really don’t know why she won’t take up a new toy. The duck is old and stained, the squeaker is broken and it’s even missing a wing. I suppose, no matter the condition the duck is in, it still serves the purpose of making Layla happy, and that’s all that matters.

We have Carla to thank for gifting Layla with her favorite toy, but mom has already told me this year that she thinks she has found the duck’s replacement, so I am anxious to see if Layla agrees.

Kayla Beaty is the managing editor of the Times-Journal. She can be reached at kbeaty@times-journal.com.

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