Each of Nanette Bailey's four dogs -- two pugs, a Boston terrier and a pit bull -- has their favorite plush toy. Even Xena the cat has a beloved little monkey doll.
But none of the pets is quite so passionate about their scrap of fuzz and fluff as Maxxis the pug, who has been remarkably faithful to a small stuffed, now-bedraggled frog for going on a decade now.
The pug was a wee puppy -- just a few months old -- when the frog first came into her life, in a major way right from the beginning.
"She would run around the house looking for froggy so she could take a nap. At bed time once she had her frog she would lay by my feet and suckle her frog for at least 10 minutes then go to sleep," says Bailey.
Back in the day, froggy was bright green and structurally intact! Photo by Nanette Bailey
Except chewed-on bits of cotton are wont to fall apart. So Bailey -- who lives in Ohio with her husband and stepson -- went out and bought several replacements, so that Maxxis would never be without.
"That idea didn't work out though," she says; her dog wanted the one frog alone.
Bailey thought perhaps the new frogs smelling different was the trouble. She tried sticking them in a Ziploc bag with the original, thinking the scent from the beloved toy would rub off, and Maxxis might be fooled -- or if not fooled, then at least satisfied.
"But that didn't work either. So that is when I started sewing it up to make sure she would always have it," Bailey says.
That's love. Photo by Nanette Bailey
There's been a lot of amateur toy frog surgery over the years. Bailey doesn't mind.
In the last few years, there's been a lot of real surgery, too. The pets have had the kind of health problems that leaves a family grateful for every day together: Maxxis survived cancer, as did Clutch, the other pug.
Tag A Roo the pit bull overcame a serious skin condition. Even Xena the cat has been subject to a double knee replacement. Only Sprocket the Boston terrier has escaped the knife thus far.
"It was a stressful couple of years," Bailey says. "They mean everything to me and my husband. They are our babies and we just love them, and take care of them, and spoil them with love as much as we can."
And at this point, and after all this, Bailey herself has a pretty much indelible attachment to the frog, herself.
She's been adorned with pet-related tats for many years, like a line of ink paw prints, a Boston terrier riding a rocket ship -- because Sprocket loves dashing at top speed -- and a cat in a ninja mask, for obvious reasons to anyone knows cats.
Last winter, Bailey got Maxxis' toy frog tattooed onto her foot, right on the spot where Maxxis likes to snuggle up when she's tuckering down -- always accompanied by that precious doll, which has been loved into decrepitude in real life, but rendered less threadbare in ink.
It's not that Bailey likes to picture an eternity in which nothing wears out. Froggy's perfection on Bailey's foot is really just a nod to this world, in which some things are possible, and some things are not.
"Her frog would be too hard to draw in the mess it's in," Bailey says. "When Maxxis gets her frog, it still makes me happy to this day. It's like I know she is happy and content when she has it."
Clutch and Maxxis, and froggy. Photo by Nanette Bailey
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