Continuing from my last post, here are a few more dog toys from the 1950s and 1960s. I especially like the wingtip shoe. These are in very good condition — no toothmarks — so they may never have been played with.
As with the collection of toys “owned” by the little Pomeranian in the snapshot that was the topic for my last post, these squeaky toys take the form of objects that dogs are not supposed to be playing with, especially the glove and the shoe. Out of scale and made from inappropriate materials, these are what George Bassalla has termed “transformed objects,” where functional objects are recreated, often out of scale and from more expensive materials then the originals, for ceremonial purposes (for example, bishops’ Croziers.)
Transformed objects are also widely used for the purposes of play, too. Think, for example, of a toy hammer made out of fabric. Such an object is safer for play, of course, and it does allow a baby to practice the gesture of hammering, but its transformed character is also amusing to the adult who gives it to the toddler. I think that we can add another characteristic to transformed play objects — they often make inappropriate, amusing sounds such as squeaking.
So “transformed object” dog toys are part of a much larger set of practices in material culture. Not that dogs care about their conceptual sophistication….