a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Divesting

Monday, November 10, 2008


SUMMARY: Trying to have Less Stuff

Ever since the last time I moved and was horrified at how much Stuff I owned--even after my Ex got a chunk of it--I've been trying to divest. It's hard. I like my Stuff.

Every month I seem to get rid of something, but every month I also seem to find things that I just have to have, which I then have to add to my inventory database. I try not to. But it's hard. I like my Stuff.

I finally made the goal a couple of months ago that, by the end of 2009, I'd own 25% less Stuff. And I've been poking away at that goal ever since. This is REALLY hard! I REALLY like my stuff! And it's becoming clear that my goal is a little unclear, too. Is it 25% less Stuff by volume? By value? By item quantity? If I keep all my books, do I have to get rid of all my Christmas decorations to make up for it? If I keep all my furniture, do I have to get rid of all my dog agility equipment to make up for it? This is like an immense puzzle in figuring out how to interpret what I really wanted and what I really meant.

And speaking of puzzles--I love doing jigsaw puzzles and I own a large ton of them, many of which I've bought since I sold the previous house in November 2000, which was the last time that I actually DID a jigsaw puzzle. So do I get of all of them because I haven't touched them in 8 years? Do I pick a few favorites that I've done more than once in the past because I enjoyed them? Do I pick a few new ones that I haven't yet done and hang onto them for that emergency spurt of jigsaw neediness?

Even my dogs have Stuff. We used to get Thanks For Coming check-in goodies at every trial (fortunately that seems to have mostly gone by the wayside), and I accrued so many toys that way. Plus we go through favorites, and I stock up on them, and something happens: Remington used to go through those ropes with knots in them, so I bought a ton, and then when he was about 3 or 4, he completely lost interest in ropes. I still have a bunch. He liked the soft furry "flippy" frisbees, and I bought a ton of them. Then cancer took him. Jake loved the soft plastic spiny squeaky toys, like the little porcupines and other similar shapes. He'd squeak one like crazy for a few weeks, then tear it to pieces. I stocked up on soft plastic spiny squeakies--and then he died very suddenly. Things like that.

Over the last 2 years, I've donated a bunch to our club's worker raffle and given away a bunch at the holiday gift exchange of BOTH agility clubs of which I am a member.

Today I gathered all the dog toys from all the places I've had them stashed and organized them across the living room floor. Holy cow. Or holy dog. I'm guessing there are millions of children in the world who have fewer toys than my dogs. (Remember that you can click on a photo to see a larger version of it to make out more details.)

Many of my stash are new, unused, still with labels or very lightly used. Some are old and battered but I don't want to toss because my dogs like those in particular, such as, for instance, the plush squeaky that used to be a--um--never sure--mouse in an easter egg?--that Tika still loves, even though there's no squeaky, no stuffing, it's just a floppy plush well-worn body.

So should I give away all the brand new ones? What about the somewhat used ones? It'll take me years to go through them all. I'm getting better about tossing the various parts that come off of various toys, even though some of those parts are brand new and are larger than some of the individual brand-new toys themselves. But, still... so much!

Tons of tug toys of various manufacture--ropes, snakes, floppy plush things. Bones to stuff with peanut butter. Kongs and similar objects to stuff with treats. Squeaky plastic toys. Squeaky plush toys. Chew toys (which my dogs have never been interested in chewing; they all prefer sticks from the yard). Frisbees of many varieties, including a bunch of hard plastic matching ones when I thought for a little while that I might start doing Disk Dog, even a sheep-shaped one. Dumbbell shapes, both squeaky and solid. Balls--squeaky, soft, tennis, solid, kickable. Bait bags, tug'n'treats, and toys with velcro openings, all of which you can put treats in and use to encourage dogs to play with toys if they're inclined not to--which was Remington, which is why I have so many of them. Already gave away quite a few of those, but still have many left. Toys that make noises other than squeaking, which Tika particularly seems to like, but the mechanisms never last very long, and I hate to toss a toy that's practically new. Latticework balls--I like those for fetch; they throw, but not really far, they're lightweight, they're easy to tug with--and eventually the lattice breaks. The Jolly Ball of which we always have to have one in the yard and we play with it every day. Tika in particular loves that one; Boost'll play with anything although she defaults to that one because we play with it with Tika. And on and on.

Boost and Tika are dyin' out in the hallway looking at the wonderland of dog toys spread out in front of them but unreachable. Such dog abuse!


  1. This is what I do: Take all the new ones and donate them to your club for worker's raffle baskets etc.
    Take all the old ones, that are in good condition, put them through a wash in the washing machine and donate them to a shelter near you. (you can take a deduction).
    Throw the rest away.

  2. Hadn't thought about the shelter. Have already made a big stack of new ones that I'll hand over to the raffle czar. I did a laundry load of still-usable toys last year; will have to evaluate what they might want at the shelter. Even getting rid of stuff takes time and organization!

  3. I can haz dog toyz!!!

    We take those that we get at trials to Johann's shelter. They are so appreciative of anything we give.

  4. Boost is so stimulated by all the toys in the living room that she has "broken in" three times already, even though I've put away most of the toys. She's such a good doggie usually; I know that physically that gate can't really keep the dogs out, but they know that it sets a limit for them and I can't remember any time since she was a young pup and maybe got corrected for it once.

  5. w00f's, me votes a shelter too, those pups dont git stuffs like that..and it wood b wonderful..

    b safe,

  6. Hey Elf! Can I use that picture on a blog post?