My Poodle Is Inexplicably Devoted to This Bear/Octopus Hybrid

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It’s a bear … with tentacles.

There are certain things in life that are so ugly they’re beautiful, or so ugly they’re cute. (The French call it jolie laide; the Japanese, busakawa.) Think of bulldogs, bumpy noses — or Birkenstocks. This week, we’re celebrating the faces that only a mother could love. Welcome to Fugly Week on the Strategist.

We call it his “bear octopus” and we hate it. We’re not even sure where it came from, but Mickey, our toy poodle, likes it more than anything that is not a piece of outright garbage. “What IS that,” friends ask with horror when they spot it on the kitchen floor. “Oh, that’s just his bear octopus,” we say. Octopus I guess is a misnomer here, since it only has four legs, but they hang down vertically from the bulbous torso in a way that is undeniably cephalopodic.

“The people who design dog toys are real freaks,” I think every time I pick it up or see one of its tentacles hanging limply from Mickey’s mouth. He has other toys — a pink rubber ball, a fake pork chop, a rope creature that looks troublingly like Pepe the Frog — but the bear octopus is what is most reliably by his side. He whines when he can’t find it, and barks when I won’t give it to him.

Plush and perverted, the Kong “Wubba Bear” (no relation to the WubbaNub Pacifier) is touted for its “floppy tails,” which make it “easy to pick up and throw.” That’s true, I guess, but hardly an excuse for just how hideous the toy is. I find Mickey sleeping on the couch with it all the time, and never do I not think “sick fetish.” The company’s copy doesn’t suggest anything else specific about what might account for Mickey’s adoration, but his inexplicable devotion to it rivals that of a baby with its Sophie the Giraffe. Everything a dog might do with a toy, Mickey wants to do with the bear octopus: cuddle it, gum it, guard it territorially as though anyone but him would possibly want it. I almost put it in the trash every single day. “Mickey, why do you love this monstrosity?!” I want to scream. But he does, and I love him, so the bear octopus stays.

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My Poodle Is Inexplicably Devoted to This Bear/Octopus Toy