Of Teddy Bears and Farting Dogs

My friend Amy Boyd has, over the time that she has worked at Texas State University, acquired a fairly impressive collection of stuffed animals. This was not because she bought them herself, or even because she’s particularly fond of them, but because someone gave her the first one as a joke. Other people got it into their heads that she collected them, and have given them to her as gifts until her desk was awash in them.

Among these unsolicited stuffed critters was one Walter the Farting Dog, a stuffed canine apparently based on a children’s book series of the same name. Walter is a scruffy-looking beast who, when squeezed, emits a distinctive flatulent sound. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), his batteries were eventually exhausted, and his noisome and noisy gastric distress came to an end.

I thought that Walter deserved a second lease on life, but that it would be much funnier and more surreal for Walter to do something entirely different when resuscitated. While on an outing with Abigail, we happened across a Build A Bear workshop, where I noticed a good selection of voice boxes for their bears — just the thing for Walter! I explained to Abby what I had in mind, and we rooted through their selection of sounds until we finally settled on this. The woman at the desk was a little baffled that I only wanted the voice box without a bear around it, but happily obliged me when I started waving around the Lincolns.

A couple of weeks later, I divulged the plan to Jeff Snider, and we kidnapped Walter early one morning to do the necessary surgery on him. Putting his old scouting skills to good use, Jeff deftly snipped Walter’s belly stitches, extracted the old sound box, slipped in the new one, and with a surgeon’s precision, sewed him back together so neatly that one would never know by looking that Walter had been through trauma. (Photo gallery is here.) We thought about neutering him while we had him sedated, but decided that with the romantic hurdles he already faced, it was probably unnecessary.

Walter in the Operating Room.

Walter in the Operating Room.

We discreetly replaced the dog on Amy’s desk, and then began the most difficult part of the whole process: waiting for someone to discover Walter’s new personality. Neither of us could go squeeze him ourselves, as we would give ourselves away all too quickly. But nobody who was already familiar with Walter had any inclination to squeeze him any longer, as his batteries had died long before.

Fortunately, we were rescued from our purgatory about a week and a half later, when Whitten picked Walter up and gave him a good squeeze.

“Let’s go shopping!” chirped Walter.

“What the h***?” responded Amy promptly.

A few more squeezes elicited more of Walter’s new vocabulary, all delivered in a cloying preadolescent whine:

“Hey, Girlfriend!”

“It’s great to have a new friend like you!”

“You look great!”

“You are too cool!”

All of this happened while I was at lunch, alas. After our earlier Cuckoo Clock prank, Jeff and I were immediate suspects, and since I lack the ability to lie well, all the details quickly spilled out. Amy thought it was hilarious, and has now demanded that we install the flatulence voicebox into her stuffed spider.