Who Killed Chester Cheetah?

Our dog Bella, like all dogs out there, has a number of dog toys lying around the house. After a casual glance around, I can see 14, so there is likely a few more scattered about. She may be a bit spoiled, but a dog has to have some toys, right? A few weeks back, however, a new toy was introduced into the mix. It was a “Kong Wubba” brand toy, that looked remarkably like Chester Cheetah, of Cheetos fame, but sans the sunglasses. So I guess a slightly less hip Chester. Nevertheless, Chester became a constant companion of Bella’s.

Chester was basically a baseball-sized squeaky ball of a belly, with a Chester head and face on top, wrapped all in a orange ballistic nylon material meant to be impervious to the crushing jaws and teeth of a dog. Sadly, no matter how well constructed any dog toy is, there is really only one thought going through Bella’s head as she chews: “How can I rip this thing open and find out what is inside?” Equally sad is the fact that every dog toy made has its achilles heel. As far as Chester is concerned, that happened to be the seam between his face and his rather pronounced snout. As Bella chewed happily, I noticed the white puffs of stuffing being pulled from the inside of his schnoz. As her chewing intensified, I couldn’t help but wonder if her fixation on that particular feature was somehow rooted in a frustration with her owner; namely me. Nah … must be just a coincidence. Anyway, a distraction and intervention were required, so thinking quickly, Connor took Bella out for her evening stroll while I inspected the damage.

Chester’s prognosis wasn’t good. The challenge of trying to reattach a partially detached nose and stop the hemorrhaging of white, and likely vomit inducing, stuffing was daunting. In a split second, I decided to cut him open, salvage the squeeze ball, then dropping the ball on the ground where she had left Chester, and called it quits. A few moments later, Bella and Connor returned. Halfway through her ritualistic victory trot to the treat jar, her eyes locked on that naked ball lying on the floor. She stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the ball. For ten full seconds, she didn’t move a muscle. Slowly she approached the ball, got close enough to smell it, and upon confirmation that something horrible had happened, collapsed on the ground and exhaled in exasperation. She literally threw herself down. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Somebody had killed Chester Cheetah and she wanted to know what was going to be done about it.

The next morning, thinking that it was ancient history in a dog’s mind, we strolled out to the kitchen to get her morning bowl of dog food. Bella really only cares about two things; food and food. Yet once again, on the journey to breakfast, she spotted the ball, approached it slowly and again threw herself on the ground. Clearly this was going to be an ongoing issue, so later that day I stopped in the local pet store and looked for a replacement. I couldn’t find the exact model, but found a blue Kong Wubba that was faceless. It was a more simple design, made the same noise and seemed to be a suitable substitute. Bella accepted it from me, gently laid it on the floor, and from that point forward simply wouldn’t have anything to do with it. For a full week, that blue Kong Wubba sat exactly where she had placed it … her memorial to the unsolved mystery of Chester.

After a week, I simply couldn’t bear it any longer. On the way home from work, I visited three pet stores, finally called a fourth, and tracked down the one remaining Chester Cheetah Kong Wubba in our area. I brought it home and we devised a test. I distracted Bella, getting her to follow me down the hall into the other room, as Connor quietly placed the new Chester next to the now partially petrified blue Kong Wubba. As Bella and I returned, she almost immediately spotted Chester. She rushed over and grabbed him. Tail wagging, she gave the new Chester a thorough inspection, and then laid down to chew on him for a bit. During my writing of this story, she has tired of chewing and put her head down, but kept one paw firmly on top of Chester. She has also been glancing back at me on occasion, rather suspiciously I must say. She doesn’t know quite what happened, but I am pretty sure she knows I had something to do with it. I am thinking that the nose on new Chester doesn’t have a prayer.

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