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Mr. Winkle

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I used to work at the corporate office of a now defunct book retailer. I saw lots of interesting stuff pass through that building. Some of it I even got to take home. In that building, I was introduced to Jason Mraz (awesome), Domo (so cool), and Robin Thicke (I thought he would totally bomb. Boy, was I wrong.). I fell in love with Kid Rock, Good Charlotte, Fearless, and Twilight because of that place.

But one of the strangest things I probably fell in love with was Mr. Winkle.

What is a Mr. Winkle, you ask?

Little do you now, Mr. Winkle has built a retail empire based on the hypothesis of the answer to that question.

Cat in a Dog Suit? Photo: Lara Jo Regan

Cat in a Dog Suit?
Photo: Lara Jo Regan

The first time I heard of Mr. Winkle, he was a magazine article hanging outside of the cubicle of someone in the calendar buying group. It had a picture of Mr. Winkle with a zipper on his chest, with the headline “Is It A Dog In A Cat Suit or A Cat In A Dog Suit.” (Those calendar folks always were a little off their rockers. I believe it was all the November allocation stress. But that is what made it so much fun to become a part of that department a few years later.) Next, pictures appeared of Mr. Winkle dressed as a bee, a space alien, and his impression of a nasty, mean-old squirrel were hung up on the cubicle as well.

I fell in love with that stupid dog!

A squirrel? Photo: Lara Jo Regan

A squirrel?
Photo: Lara Jo Regan

When the kind calendar folks learned of my love of all things Winkle, they made sure to save me one of his calendars every year. I sent him an email…

AND HE ANSWERED ME BACK! How great is that for a celebrity whose species is not even equipped with opposable thumbs!

Soon Mr. Winkle was also releasing children’s books. I bought the first one, then the second. I bought his four minute video. (I don’t like to do any obsession part way! See also The Wienermobile.) My peeps at work gave me the hook-up on some Mr. Winkle plush (not available in stores).

Mr. Winkle swag

Mr. Winkle swag

Mr. Winkle even appeared on an episode of Sex & The City! (By the way, that is the only episode of that show that I have ever watched.)

But in 2003, a great dream of mine would come true. Mr. Winkle’s handler and photographer, Lara Jo Regan, kept him on a short leash (pun intended). He traveled and did media appearances, but very few. So when I found out that he would be coming to Michigan, it was as if my [stalker] dreams had come true!

What is Mr. Winkle 2001 calendar Photo: Lara Jo Regan

What is Mr. Winkle 2001 calendar
Photo: Lara Jo Regan

Mr. Winkle was going to appear at the Birmingham Borders book store. Now, I am afraid to drive in big cities. I tend to lump all of downtown and the surrounding suburbs into one scary-ass mess known as Detroit. But as my husband went with me, I probably made him drive. My crazy friend went with us too, because her Winkle love also ran deep.

We were some of the first people there. The line became SO LONG behind us. Finally Lara Jo arrived. Mr. Winkle had a little leopard-print dog bed to chill in while he met his fans. He was giving out pawtographs and was available for photos with fans. No one was allowed to hold him or touch him.

It turns out, Mr. Winkle, who looks like a cross between a shaved Pomeranian and a Chihuahua on uranium has the nasty personality of both! By the time it was my turn, I was kind of scared to stoop next to him. He had snarled at quite a few folks. Lara Jo just chastised him. She was obviously used to his breed nastiness. It was still a really awesome day. I have his pawtograph hanging upstairs. I had our picture together displayed in my cubicle, alongside his annual calendars.

Mr. Winkle & Me, taken by award-winning photographer Lara Jo Regan

Mr. Winkle & Me, taken by award-winning photographer Lara Jo Regan

I am sad to say that I do not have a complete collection of Mr. Winkle calendars. But I do have his 2014 calendar hanging in my kitchen right now. It features pics from his “Nudes” collection. I am bothered that his website never gets updated. That was acceptable in 2003, not so much in 2014. Everything on the Internet says that he is still alive. He would be like 20 years old by now. I loved him, but I blame continued merchandising on his longevity.

Other weirdly adorable animals have tried to steal Mr. Winkle’s spotlight. [I will most definitely not name their names here.] But I sincerely wanted to write a post about what Mr. Winkle has meant to me, and how he will always be a “Top Dog” in my book, right behind my own dogs.

Mr. Winkle pawtograph

Mr. Winkle pawtograph

What I Learned This Week – 2/9/14

This week I learned that my family and I have very different personalities.

We spent a little family time at Build-A-Bear (or cat) Workshop this week. All the animals we picked out are very different. But I think the ones we picked out represent us all very well. It would be fun to psychoanalyze us by our choices. See the picture below…

Our Build-A-Bear creations (l to r): Rainbow (my son's), Hootchie Mama Hello Kitty (mine), Lloyd (my husband's)

Our Build-A-Bear creations (l to r): Rainbow (my son’s), Hootchie Mama Hello Kitty (mine), Lloyd (my husband’s)

FYI–If I get 20 different people to comment on this post, you will all be rewarded with a video of Hootchie Mama Hello Kitty twerking!!!

Quite the incentive, huh? Send over your friends and family! All are welcome here! (Except Negative Nellies! That is why my mom has no idea about my blog. Shhhhh!)

Give The Perfect Gift

[Stuffed Animals: #3 in a Series of ?]

For past posts on stuffed animals, or stuffies (as I call them), please visit:

Barfey https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/09/13/barfey/

Sleeps With Stuffed Animals https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/09/20/1244/

I came up with a great idea the other day as I was cleaning the top of my dresser in the bedroom. As with all my ideas, I am sure someone else has already conceived it and slickly marketed it. But, I will share it with you here anyway.

When you are sick or feeling down, people give you flowers. Flowers either come in a vase you have to try not to spill, or you have to find a vase to put them in. You have to keep them watered. And then they just die anyway. If you are trying to get over someone’s death, doesn’t having to throw away dead flowers just make you think about death and throwing life away and feeling even more depressed? Wouldn’t it be better to have something to hug?

Flowers…such high maintenance


Not to mention people with allergies–keep those flowers away!

People also send fruit bouquets or muffin baskets or popcorn baskets, etc. But people are always watching their calories. And watching their cholesterol. And avoiding gluten. And being scared of nuts. Not to mention steering clear of coconut. Because everyone knows it is so gross. The message: people are particular about what they eat. Food is never a good gift.

Fruit, anyone? Better eat that up fast, because fruit goes bad.


Muffins…carbs, gluten…


Popcorn…fat, sodium, those little things that get stuck in your teeth…


Balloon bouquet? Obviously you don’t know about the rising occurrences of latex allergies in this country.

Balloons…airway constricting,vision getting dim…


So what is a person who wants to send someone a thoughtful, yet impersonal gift to do?

Sample bouquet mock-up from my own collection. Hmmm…how does the name “Pleasantly Plush” sound for my business?

    Send them the STUFFED ANIMAL BOUQUET!*

    That’s right! The stuffed animal bouquet.

    Choose from many different sizes.

    Purchase a big basket full of small animals, or a basket featuring a large animal surrounded by smaller ones.

    Pick a theme, such as Teddy Bears, Dogs, Cats, Favorite Sports Team–or order our variety baskets.

    Choose from Farm, Forest, Jungle, Ocean, Swamp, Safari, or Zoo!

    We can cater to any occasion: birthday, anniversary, wedding, Quinceaños, Bar Mitzvah, federally recognized holidays.

    We can even create a tasteful yet comforting arrangement for funerals. When someone you care about has lost their someone to hug, be sure you provide them with a fuzzy substitute full of childlike wonder to fill in the empty void.

    For a limited time**, you can get a free card when you order any bouquet, handling and delivery fees extra.

Wouldn’t that be so fun to work with stuffed animals all day? And they might go to little sick kids in the hospital and put a big smile on their faces.

But I would have to use quality animals, not just the junk that gets dumped in a claw machine or hangs in the booths at the carnival. That would make my bouquets expensive. I would worry that someone would complain that they didn’t like it. But really, that would be between the gifter and the giftee.

* This company does not actually exist. Although I know it sounds awesome, please do not try to order.
** As long as the make-believe company exists.

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

Sleeps With Stuffed Animals

I sleep with a stuffed animal.

Every night.

There. I said it. And I am not ashamed. Although you probably think less of me now.

Old Barfey in the foreground


Growing up, I always slept with stuffed animals. As I grew up, I consistently slept with Old Barfey every night. (For more on Barfey, click here.) Old Barfey was the right size to wrap my arms around and his ground nutshells provided the perfect amount of weight to prevent him from bouncing out of bed in the night. I loved his aged nappy fur. Touching it gave me a sense of security.

As I got older, I feared I would lose Barfey’s nose one night in a freak boating accident. (I kill me.) So, I admit, I took other stuffed animals into my bed. (Is that considered sleeping around? Does that make me a plush slut?) It was hard to find one that was the right size and softness. A stuffy whose quality was good enough that fur wouldn’t fall out instantly. I found that generic animals usually won out over licensed characters. And cuteness in the daytime did not always equal comfort in the night.

I moved out and got my own apartment. Did I still need a stuffed animal to sleep with? Hells ya! It was lonely and creepy in my apartment all alone at night.

Then my boyfriend (now-husband) moved in. It wasn’t so lonely then. But he didn’t find the both of us sleeping in my twin bed comfortable, so for several years we would take turns, one sleeping on the couch and one sleeping in the twin bed. No boyfriend to cuddle = I still needed a stuffed animal.

We bought a Queen size bed. (My boyfriend said we should have gotten a King. There is no way that would have fit in my apartment. We could barely walk around the Queen size.) Guess what? It turns out my boyfriend was not a cuddler. And I usually went to bed before him anyway. So, I still had a stuffed animal.

I tried on and off for a period of time to go to sleep without a stuffed animal. I could. But it took a lot longer to fall asleep and I didn’t sleep as well. I tend to have panic attacks as I am trying to fall asleep. A lack of stuffed animal seemed to make them markedly worse.

Dave sleeping with a borrowed friend


We moved into our house in 2004 and got a dog. Finally, I thought, I can snuggle with my canine. Dave is furry and orange and beautiful. But my husband instituted a “no dog on the bed” rule. Which stayed in place about 15 months, until my husband got a dog of his own. Two dogs, guess which one sleeps on the bed most nights–my husband’s dog, Parker. He is all legs and he snores. Although I must say, he comes in handy come wintertime. Parker is a short-hair Pointer, so he shares his heat better than Dave, who is a fluffy Lab-Chow mix. She keeps her heat to herself.

Parker Pointer


But even with a snoring Pointer next to me, I find that I still sleep better with a stuffed animal in my arms. My current favorites are larger than I would have chosen as a kid. There are two Build-A-Bears, a Stitch, A Ty Panda Bear (Beckett, created exclusively for Borders), and Max, from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. My asbestos friend bought me Max while I was in the hospital having my son. I had told her I needed a stuffy to sleep with while I was there. He didn’t help that much. I really didn’t get much sleep while in the hospital anyway.

Current Selection: Adult-Sized


So, there. I have admitted that I am a grown woman who sleeps with stuffed animals. What is there to be ashamed of? So I find comfort in a pile of fur and plastic pellets? A bundle of plush and polyester fiberfill? Isn’t that better than resorting to sleeping pills or alcohol? Isn’t it better than being the crazy cat lady and having a house that smells like ammonia?

Everyone, find a stuffed animal that meets your particular needs and snuggle up with it tonight and see if you don’t sleep better. Plus, you could have fun going to Build-A-Bear! But make sure you take a small child with you, for cover:)

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

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