Plushies are Pets Too: Happy National Plush Day!

Categories:Dog Mom Daily
Victoria, writer and story teller

Bruno the Dog Prop helping with packing day!

Here at Canine Crazies, we love animals of all kinds including the stuffed ones. Although they aren’t real, they are real in our hearts. Bruno the Dog Prop is our official mascot, crafting companion and travel friend.  In honor of National Plush Day celebrated on October 28, we thank plushies for loving our kids and our kid at heart. 


The History for Plush Animal Lovers Day

The invention of the Teddy Bear and its urban legend surrounding it eventually sprouted a holiday. During the late 80’s a collectable’s dealer named Royal Selangor created Teddy Bear Picnic Day for July 10th. The holiday was inspired from the popularity of John W. Brathon and Jimmy Kennedy’s song ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ and was created as a day to celebrate the simple pleasures of a picnic with these stuffed animals. However, people began to notice that other stuffed animals should have the same kind of love and celebration as they do with teddy bears. So, on October 28th Plush Animal Lovers Day was created as a response, where no matter the character or the species, all stuffed animals should be celebrated.


The Origin of Plush Animals

The earliest known stuffed animals possibly date back to the Roman times. To help poor children find comfort in toys, when they were unable to afford wooden dolls, ragdolls were made. They took the shape of animals and were made from old pieces of fabric and filled with straw. However, it wasn’t until 1880 where the first modern plush animals were manufactured. Margarete Steiff, a seamstress manufactured a pincushion in the shape of an elephant. Children became attached to the elephant so Steiff manufactured more with a new purpose: to entertain and provide comfort to children. For the next 10 years, she sold more than 5000 stuffed animals and manufactured more variations of them including dogs, pigs, and cats.

The true catalyst that brought stuffed animals into its popularity sprouted from an urban legend. In 1902, while bear-hunting, President Theodore ‘’Teddy’’ Roosevelt caught sight and spared a bear cub. Inspired by this story, Morris Michtom created a stuffed bear naming it the ‘’Teddy Bear’’. Stieff joined in later that year and started to produce more teddy bears, which eventually became a staple for children’s toys and one of the most popular toys in America.


What Makes Plushies So Special?

Even if they are seen as a children’s toy, stuffed animals are so much more than that. No matter what age you are, stuffed animals have provided tremendous psychological benefits when it came to childhood development, combating anxiety, and even sleeping. In psychology, stuffed animals are referred to as transitional objects, or objects that help with the childhood transition from dependence to independence. According to the New York University Psychoanalytical Institute, written from an article from Psychology Today, transitional objects are ‘’conceived of in three ways: as typifying a phase in a child’s development; as a defense against separation anxiety; and, lastly, as a neutral sphere in which experience is not challenged.”

The most known example of this is when babies learn to sleep separate from their mothers, stuffed animals are often used as a way to provide comfort and security for them. Stuffed animals can also help children develop in learning, language, building relationships and building confidence. Playing with stuffed animals can also help children when dealing with stressful situations too! According to a study in 2014, when parents provided a stuffed toy rabbit to children patients to play with post-surgery, those who played with the rabbit experience less responses to pain compared to those who did not.

These types of benefits carry on to adults too! In fact in a 2018 study, 43% of adults have a stuffed friend; 84% of men and 77% of women admit to owning at least one. Like with children, stuffed animals provide a sense of security and comfort, easing levels of anxiety and loneliness. Stuffed animals are often used as therapy tools, to help those with people form more secure attachments from their disorganized attachment styles and recover from traumatic experiences. According to Rose M. Barlow, Professor of Psychology at Boise State University, “Animals, live or stuffed, can aid therapy for both children and adults by providing a way to experience and express emotions, a feeling of unconditional support, and grounding.’’

Mama and her baby. She doesn’t care if it’s not real!

Humans are not the only species that has a love for stuffed animals. In fact, dogs have just as much of an obsession for stuffed animals as do humans! While the way dogs treat their toys may depend on the gender, age and breed, stuffed toys have been used to provide physical and mental stimulation as well as provide comfort. Stuffed animals allow dogs to keep in touch with their natural instincts. Labs and Retrievers for example, are bred to hunt and retrieve their prey. Therefore, they are often seen carrying their plushies in their jaws. Working and hunting dogs with high amounts of energy, such as Jack Russell Terriers and Huskies, might find enjoyment in ‘’killing’’ their toys by shaking and taking out the stuffing because it gives them a challenge to tear through.

For un-spayed female dogs, stuffed animals can also invoke their motherly instincts, often treating it as if it were their babies. This is especially the case when a mother dog lost her puppies too early, whether they were taken from her or when they sadly passed away when they were born. Similarly, dogs may find comfort in a plush when they are anxious or grieving their lost owner. One such case is Stella with her pink ‘’security poodle’’. After a death from her family, Stella was sent out of state to another family to be taken care of for a few days. At first she was nervous, but when her guardian wisely gave her a pink poodle plush, her anxiety waned. Since then, whenever people were not around, Stella would cuddle with her little poodle.

So whether you are gifting a stuffed animal to a small child, finding comfort with it during sleepless nights, or donating your old stuffed toy to your high-energy dog, everyone should have a reason to celebrate their plushies!


Famous Stuffed Animals

Winnie-the-Pooh

Probably one of the most famous stuffed animals known today are Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends from the One Hundred Acre Woods. By the end of WW1, thousands of visitors came to the London Zoo to meet with the famous tame black bear, Winnie, brought in by Lieutenant Harry Colebourn. One of these visitors was author A.A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin. He would often feed the bear spoonfuls of condensed milk between big fuzzy hugs. He grew fond of the bear so much that he renamed his teddy bear ‘’Winnie-the-Pooh’’ inspired by a combination of the names of the black bear and the name of a particular swan. A.A. Milne took his son’s stuffed bear as inspiration for his writings, along with other plushies such as Tigger, the stuffed tiger, Piglet, the stuffed pig, Eeyore, the stuffed donkey, and Kanga and Roo, the stuffed kangaroos. By 1924, Milne brought Winnie-the-Pooh to life through the children’s poem book, ‘’When We Were Very Young’’ followed by a series of stories “Winnie-the-Pooh,” in 1926. His stories grew into popularity, providing comfort for those grieving from the horrors of war. Since then Winnie-the-Pooh became a huge staple in media today, becoming the third largest franchise in the world.


Peter Rabbit

While the story of Peter Rabbit started out as a book, his merchandising as a doll changed licensing forever. Author Beatrix Potter started writing The Tale of Peter Rabbit inspired by a series of letters written to Noel Moore, son of former governess Annie Moore. However, for years she would have to self publish her book for publishers rejected it for it did not meet their expectations. By 1902, due to its increasing popularity, Frederick Warne & Co., a publisher who previously rejected Potter, finally took on the book themselves and by the end of the year sold 28,000 copies. However, Warne & Co. neglected to register the American copyright for the book as others took the character for themselves. Realizing that this would mean a loss of revenue for her, Potter once again, took matters into her own hands. She observed that a well known department store, Harrods manufactured dolls taken from pictures and recently published books. She came to the conclusion that if she did not make a doll herself, someone else would. Thus, by 1903, she sewed and patented the Peter Rabbit Doll, becoming the very first character to be patented. This spawned a system where companies, ranging from Disney to Warner Brothers, and creators can license and merchandise their own characters.

Hobbes

Hobbes is rather an ambiguous figure but is a known ‘’stuffed animal’’ featured on the Sunday newspaper comic strips. Hobbes appears as a stuffed tiger plush to most people but to Calvin, he is a witty, playful, thought-provoking friend. Their relationship became the heart of cartoonist Bill Watterson’s ‘’Calvin and Hobbes’’ which appeared in the American newspaper between 1985 to 1995. The series was renowned for the vivid portrayal of childhood imagination as the duo embark on fantastical adventures. traveling through time and space. Despite the creator retiring the strip 10 years after its creation and refused to merchandise it as a product, his comic lives on in the hearts of those that look back at it.

Angelica Pride: My calm and comfort

Angelica Pride and friends

While Canine Crazies celebrates with Bruno, I, Victoria, celebrate Plush Animal Lovers Day with Angelica Pride, my red stuffed dragon. As a child, stuffed animals were an integral part of my life. It ranged from when my mother taught me how to speak through talking with stuffed animals to me carrying them around in new situations and places. Over the years, I had a huge collection of plush animals ranging from plushies that were gifted to me, to Beanie Babies, to Webkinz. I even bonded with my brother with them as we both played together and made up stories with them. Unfortunately, since 2019, I have lost most of my collection and only have a small handful of plushies, most of them are ones I have as an adult.

Angelica was one of the recent plushies I have  received. She was gifted to me by my partner. She was a childhood plush my partner always kept and was there for them whenever they felt sad or anxious. I welcomed Angelica with the rest of the dragon family: Magic, Scorch and Zangeen. Zangeen is the oldest dragon I have and he has some wear and tear for his grey mohawk was cut off. Yet, despite being a recent addition, Angelica remains special to me. Not only did she comfort my partner for all of those years, I would hold on to her whenever I had panic attacks late at night. I would pet her little head and usually after a while she would calm me down. While I may not carry plushies as much as I used to, I would sometimes turn to them when no one else is around.


Plushies handmade with love: Alarming Adorable Creations 

Last Christmas I received two bats from my Mother. She told me they were handmade from a dear friend who is an amazing seamstress. Paige sews all sorts of creations ranging from bats, moths, rabbits, foxes, bears, brontosaurs frogs and more!  I am so excited as Alarming Adorable Creations will be making more friends for Bruno the Dog Prop…. a cat friend!

Learn more about Alarming Adorable Creations:

Purchase at Alarming Adorable Creations

Alarming Adorable Creations on Instagram

Alarming Adorable Creations Facebook Page

Alarming Adorable Creations Facebook Group



About the Author
Victoria, writer and story teller
Website | + posts

Throughout her life with Autism, Victoria has a strong bond with the animals. Her love of creatures is her therapy and aid that guides her in communication. Her sketch work, digital art and short stories are all animal inspired. Creative and visionary, she's enjoys imagining a world where human and animals are one. As a co-author, researcher and lead editor for Canine Crazies, she indulges in learning more about the amazing world of canines.

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