You know how in the haste of of the hustle and bustle of life, you sometimes look for opportunities to just kind of skate by on a task? Well that one came back to bite me this week.

I stopped at Walgreens on Monday for hairspray. Priorities, ya know. While inside, I happen to see a stuffed pug toppled over on a heaping shelf of Valentine's stuffed animals. My oldest daughter has this thing about pugs. She wants a real pug to name Pickles. She has pug clothes and pug accessories and watches an endless array of pug videos on You Tube. So, of course, I had to get the pug. But this isn't my first rodeo, so I know if I get the pug, I have to get something of the stuffed variety for my other two kids. I hurriedly pick out a cute singing, tutu-wearing hamster for my younger daughter. But what do I get my son? I eye a few possibilities, but nothing looks right. I mean, if this animal isn't good... if it doesn't have the appropriate gimmick or isn't a stuffed version of one of his favorite things, then it will wind up shoved in a dusty, back corner of our playroom where all the uninteresting toys go to die.

I see nothing appropriate and I'm rapidly running out of time. And it's two days before Valentine's Day. If I don't get it today, there will be nothing left. Frantic, I feel myself starting to sweat, and my eyes dart from shelf to shelf wondering if there's anything special crammed in the back or hiding under a stuffed monkey's rear end. And then, I see it. It's almost as if a light magically shined down from above... on a dalmatian. A dalmatian! My son loves dalmatians. Even better, the black and white speckled pup is wearing... wait for it... a fireman costume. Score!  Why does my son love dalmatians? Because he loves fire fighters and fire trucks and fire stations and.... of course, fire dogs! It's practically an epic mommy moment. As, I scoop up the spotted wonder dog and strut to the counter to pay, I swear I hear Chariots of Fire playing in my head.

OK, flash forward to Valentine's Day. 6:45 a.m. to be exact. That's when my glory comes to a screeching halt. I proudly display the kids' Valentine's goodies and wait for them to simultaneously throw their arms around me. Which doesn't happen. Instead, they begin poking around on their stuffed critters, because, somehow, children intuitively know when something as simple as a stuffed animal is supposed to sing or dance or make some other obnoxious sound. The hamster starts singing and dancing and within seconds, the dalmatian chimes in, too.

I hear shrieking and giggling. I watch it all unfold, almost in slow motion. I see the kids' eyes grow very large. There's finger pointing. It takes a moment to grasp it all, but then I realize what's happening, and I watch in horror. The firefighter dalmatian starts shaking his booty and proceeds to open his fire coat, flashing his boxer shorts with flames on them.

That's right, folks. I bought my four-year-old son a stripper for Valentine's Day. A stuffed, spotted, canine Hugh Hefner.


And then I flash back to that day, nearly a month ago, when I stopped in for something at JoAnn and noticed all the super cute Valentine goodies they had. I thought about buying everything that day. But then I thought... nah. It can wait.


Once everyone finishes snickering about the dog's underwear, I sit there for awhile and think of a way to possibly spare myself months of reliving this moment with a stripping fire dog lurking around my house, taunting me. Five minutes and a pair of scissors later and I've managed to cut the threads that have the dog's hand sewn to his fire coat and surgically remove his boxer shorts.

The children haven't seemed to notice the changes. And, since the fire dog's stripper maneuvers have been disabled, I've decided he can stay.