I never really had a pet as a child; my parents were not animal lovers, and I remember my dad telling my sister when she asked for a rabbit, "I'll buy you a stuffed toy rabbit instead, ok? They're cute, they don't stink and they're not dirty". Alfie's last pet, our dear little Missy, was run over the week before The Pea was born. We've always said we want to have a family pet when the time is right, but that time is not now. Our house is small even for the five of us, and we don't have close family or friends nearby to take care of a pet for us when we travel. It looks like for the time being, I'm going to have to resort to my dad's answer when the kids start clamoring for a pet.
Fortunately, the toy industry has gotten a lot more sophisticated and there are some pretty amazing toys out there that do a great job making lifelike toys. I'm talking about Hasbro's Fur Real Friends, a line of stuffed animals that look and sound and move like the real thing.
The Pea was delighted with the sample toy that Hasbro sent us to play with. Tumbles the My Roll Over Pup is a little plush beagle that makes everyone say "Awwwww". He's so cute -- he squirms around when you pat him or scratch him, and he falls asleep when you put his back long enough. Alfie, who grew up with dogs, says that Tumbles' wriggling and rolling and yapping are remarkably like a real beagle's actions. His fur is delightfuly silky and soft -- but I do wish Tumbles came with a bit more padding on his tummy. Right now when you cuddle him, you clearly feel his hard plastic frame. Also, additional padding might be able to muffle the mechanical whirrring sounds you can hear whenever he moves.
Of course, Tumbles will never replace the real thing (only non-animal lovers like my dad could even think of such a thing). But if you are one of those families whose kids are pining for a pet but you can't have one for one reason or another (lack of space, allergies, etc..), Tumbles can serve as a sweet, entertaining consolation. Even if your child does have a pet of her own, Tumbles is one delightful little playmate.