Henry Dog

Today’s post comes from Crystal Bay

My dad’s dream was to live on a lake so that he could go fishing every morning. He had a second dream: having his own factory to design and sell stuffed toys. Some of you may remember “Animal Fair”? Some will remember his factory in Chanhassen.

He was very gifted as an artist. The way he designed a new stuffed animal was amazing. He’d have a dream during sleeping of a new animal, and, in the morning over a cup of coffee, he’d sketch it out. He then knew how to lay it out one-dimensionally on fabric, cut it out, sew it, turn it inside out, and stuff it. It looked exactly like the one in his dream. Most every animal he ever made went through this extraordinary process. On Saturdays, he’d practically give the toys away and donate many to charity.

One day, he produced “Henry”, named by my son because he looked like a classmate. He made them from 6” high to 6’ tall.

Bringing this history up to Dad at 81 years old, one morning, while reading the Variety section, I spotted a big picture of Henry. Reading the article, I learned that there’s an international Henry fan club, a web site. and even an annual convention. They’re now worth a fortune. In this article, the founders of the club lamented that they’d never found his creator, the birth, of this beloved dog.

I immediately phoned them to tell them who brought Henry into life. They flew a delegation out from CA to meet with Dad that very week, and updated the Henry website with the story of Henry’s modest beginnings.

You can only imagine the old man’s astonishment!! At Dad’s memorial service just one year later, the company, Princess Toys who’d bought him out, sent a box full of little Henrys to give everyone in attendance. Sitting next to his urn is a Henry dog on my living room shelf. It seems that Henry will live on into perpetuity.

How do you get your creative ideas?  What were your favorite stuffed animals?

34 thoughts on “Henry Dog”

  1. I don’t have any creative “aha!” moments or get ideas while dreaming. I just more or less grind them out (like story plots and characters). Nothing magical or romantic about it.

    My favorite stuffed toy when I was a kid was Bruce the bear. Had him for probably 5 or 6 years until he disintegrated from excessive hugging and cuddling. 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It was fun, CrystalBay, to open TB this morning and see a familiar face (Henry). And it is always good to reflect on our dad.

    Oddly enough, although my dad worked as a stuffed toy designer, stuffed toys were never big in my life. I was an outdoors kid always tearing around with my bow or a fishing rod. Stuffed toys didn’t fit with that. I once bought a springer spaniel that I named Brandy. Dad liked her (he was a dog person), and he designed a dog based on her. That toy, Brandydogger, became my favorite.

    I don’t–in spite of my many published magazine articles and books–think of myself as a creative person. I only knew one way of writing. I’d start by writing something clumsy and banal. Then I’d do my best to improve it, editing ferociously and tenaciously. If I had anything worthwhile to say, it would gradually emerge from the edits. More accomplished writers surely have more elegant and efficient ways of doing it. I had to do it the hard way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Writing is an art. Story telling is an art. There is no greater skill than writing stories in a way which resonates across subjects, time, and life experiences. I’m finding this out in just the last few days.

      I was banned from the “Lake Mtka Fan Club”, an established FB page with thousands of members for the purpose of sharing pictures and memories of the lake. Someone posted the Strib story about my city prosecuting me for having one boat at my dock that I didn’t own. It caused a firestorm on their page. People were very upset and over one hundred joined in the fray.

      The owner of this FB page reacted to this by suddenly, and without notice, deleting all comments. And me. Shortly after, a woman who’d witnessed this created a whole new page titled “Nancy and the Evolving Dock Story”. I quickly concluded that I really didn’t want it to be a negative narrative. I also realized that everything which could be said had already been said. This left me in an awkward position, so I decided that I’d write a couple of pieces about my life and post them so people could know the “woman behind the controversy” better.

      There are now close to 500 members asking for more stories. I’ve been writing for years without many readers; suddenly there’s an explosion of people eagerly awaiting my next story. I’m both overwhelmed and I am humbled.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think I’ve spoken before of my large animal fair stuffed toy. Very large polar bear who my call Kate. She sits on a chair in my room. All of my other stuffy toys, and there are many, are currently living on a shelf in the attic. And that’s because it’s too difficult to try to explain to YAs dog what she can chew and what she can’t in the way of stuffy toys.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You mention explaining to a dog what she can chew. My first English setter was interesting in that way. We typically had stuff, like socks, on the floor in our house. Spook would ignore them. But if I picked up an old sock and tie it in a knot, he understood the sock was a toy. He’d shake it, as if to kill it, or throw it around the room so he could chase it down. I never understood his thinking. In effect I was telling him what was a toy and what was not, and he understood me perfectly.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Over the last 40+ years I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many creative concept sessions known as “ideations” for companies like 3M and General Mills, restaurants and restaurant chains, food and candy companies and a host of other consumer product companies. Sometimes the creative group is charged simply with coming up with a name for something and sometimes we are fully conceptualizing new products. Generally the participants don’t all know each other and so there is an initial adjustment period where we are getting a feel for each other’s personal style.

    The interesting thing is how frequently the best ideas come out after the proceedings start to get silly and a little outrageous. Experienced ideators welcome that because that’s when the participants relax, do their best free associating and break free of expectations. The connection between silliness and creativity is acknowledged and accepted and often the moderators—these sessions always have a moderator to move things along—will bring toys and amusing objects to scatter around the tables as triggers.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. What I want to know is what kind of process is responsible for naming drugs. In particular, I want to meet the man who came up with the name “adalimumab.” I want to shake his hand and ask, “What in HELL were you thinking?”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The brand name of adalimumab is Humira. That’s the name the ideation came up with.

        This is from Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society:

        C&EN Associate Editor Carmen Drahl explains that until 1961 there was no standard for assigning drugs generic names, which are different from brand names like Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Nexium (esomeprazole) and Herceptin (trastuzumab). That’s when three medical organizations created the U.S. Adopted Names (USAN) Council to assign simplified alternatives to the unwieldy proper names the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry gives to molecules. For instance, under USAN’s guidance, “cis-8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide” becomes “zucapsaicin.” The council recommends generic names to an international agency of the World Health Organization. The tongue-twisting words the USAN Council creates are products of “stems” that describe a drug’s characteristics, which Drahl likens to the Latin and Greek roots of many English words.

        Drahl writes that these stems describe everything from a drugs’ function to its shape. For instance, the “-prazole” ending of Nexium’s generic name, esomeprazole, reveals that it is a type of antiulcer medication. Similar drugs will have the same stems in their names, allowing those familiar with the stems to crack the code. The USAN Council is careful to avoid words that are difficult to pronounce in foreign languages or that may have other meanings abroad. Sometimes, Drahl notes, a generic name will also include hints about its developer that a drug company has suggested to the council, as in carfilzomib, which recognizes molecular biologist Philip Whitcome and his wife Carla.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. I think it’s summed up by this quote that I once saw in a classroom where I substituted: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”

    And I sometimes wake up with an idea after mulling something over on my way to sleep.

    Had a stuffed ____ as a kid – bright pink, two front feet but just a rounded back end… sort of like they didn’t bother to finish it. L Closest think I had to a security blanket.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wasn’t into stuffed animals when I was a kid. Didn’t do dolls, either. I preferred outdoor stuff. I did play with toys sometimes – there’s an old photo of me and I’m clutching the box of tinker toys as if I’m very fond of it.


  8. I have a couple of recently acquired stuffed animals – a pair of abandoned stuffed bears, who I picked up out of the street. The first was a light yellow bear who was lying on a median near my credit union. It was about to rain, so I didn’t want to just leave it lying there to get soaked. Oddly, it didn’t have any eyes, and I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be that way, or if the eyes had just come off. It had a slightly dirty nose, but was otherwise in pretty good shape.

    The second one I drove over in the street, some months later, coincidentally within about twenty feet of the place I’d found the first bear. It was fortunately situated so that the wheels of the car didn’t go over it. I pulled into the parking lot of the credit union and watched a couple more cars go over it without squashing it. I don’t know why I have this compulsion to rescue things like discarded stuffed bears, but I do, so I went and picked it up when there was a break in traffic. It was in considerably worse shape than the first bear, but I tossed it into my car and went home. I put it through the washer and dryer and then took a look at it to see if it could be saved.

    Bear number two had obviously been through some trauma. I don’t know how long it had been outdoors, but it appeared to have some grassy plants growing in it. I sat down with a tweezers and picked out all the grassy stuff. Amazingly. it didn’t seem to have any tears or missing pieces. The wash cycle cleaned it up pretty well, and it was surprisingly presentable.

    The finding of the second bear jogged my memory of the first, so I dug it out of the closet where I’d stashed it and took another look. I cleaned up its nose and sewed a couple of buttons on to give it eyes.

    The two bears are about the same size. They seem to go together somehow. I named them Lilybear and Lafayette.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They move around, but most often they are in a wooden crate underneath a chair in the living room. The crate is where I keep an assortment of toys and kids’ books in case I have young visitors. The crate used to get pulled out and explored now and then, but these days no one I know has young kids anymore, so the crate mostly stays under the chair now.


  9. i had a doll named dee dee and a blue cat named mr boo after a book my mom did when she was a teenager
    my mom found the cat in a box when she downsized and it sits by my headboard just like 60 ryegrass agony monsmom gave stife stuffed animals who she proclaimed were the best
    i didn’t like them because they werebristly instead of soft and cuddly .

    Liked by 1 person

        1. On second look, I think the “60 ryegrass agony monsmom gave stife ” means “60 years ago, mom’s mom gave stiff stuffed animals.”

          Liked by 2 people

        1. 60 years ago my moms mom gave stife animals and said they were the best

          strife was a german company that made them look good but not feel good

          they were expensive compared to others but their stiffness made it easy to comply with my grandmothers wishes that we not touch them with dirty fingers or get dirt or food or evidence of child associated wear involved
          they were given away years ago with no affection lost

          Liked by 1 person

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