“ Manufacturer: British Home Stores / Type: Soft Toy „
~~WHY I PURCHASED WILLS THE WESTIE~~ My children are grown up now and this fact really came home to me when my youngest left home last September to begin her three years at university. Now this young lady was both excited and nervous to start on her exciting journey. She said she would miss her family so much. As we were almost ready to set off in the car, crammed with her luggage, I noticed she looked rather pale and nervous. As she gave Joey, our West Highland White Terrier a big hug as she bade him goodbye, I thought, "She's going to really miss him." She did ask a few times, joking of course but perhaps a little wishful thinking here, if she could take him and hide him in her room on the university campus. All the sadness at missing her friend and asking if he would still remember her when she next saw him, made me decide to look around for a replica Westie. Now, this daughter of mine, has always, from her baby days until present day, absolutely adored fluffy toys. No matter to her when she was three, four, five and older, that they just sat there docilely doing nothing; to her they were friends and seemed 'real.' Well since she was nine years old she has come to know what a real live dog is like and the care that's involved in looking after one. There is no substitute in her eyes for Joey, but I still thought she might appreciate a soft toy pooch to keep at the end of her bed, or on a shelf in her new room. ~~WHERE I FOUND WILLS~~ And then I saw something which I thought was even better than expected, when walking past the entrance to my local British Home Stores-a table full of 'almost' life size West Highland White Terriers. The girls were wearing pink scarves and the boys had red. Just the thing, I thought. Of course, hubby being hubby, an eyebrow was raised as he peered at me, as if to say I'd finally lost the plot! I might not have proceeded with this purchase if, just then, my son and his girlfriend, also shopping, found us looking at these Joey look alikes. Both immediately agreed that my daughter would adore one of these for her room at university. As I queued up to pay I found several people looking at my new canine friend and some were 'oohing' and 'aahing.' One man asked, "What does it do? We bought a toy dog that barked last year and it hasn't been played with once!" I didn't like to say that this wasn't really being bought as a toy but as company for an eighteen year old! At the counter, the sales assistant said that she loved these westies. I then I felt able to explain to her that it was for my daughter who was away at university, as a substitute for our real West Highland dog. She said I was lucky to have a 'real' Westie. To this I had to reply that the soft toy version would be a lot less trouble. ~~PRICE/AVAILABILITY~~ I expected these toys to be sold for a high price but was pleased to see that they were on offer for the affordable price of eight pounds rather than the former price of twenty-five. Well, no way would I have paid the full price but I thought £8 was about right or, to be fair, a good price for a soft toy of this size. As already said, this toy is available from branches of British Home stores and online. It is available wearing a pink knitted scarf or a red one. I chose red as wanted it to resemble Joey who likes to wear red or blue, but isn't so keen on pink. ~~SIZE~~ In a sitting position Wills measures around about 40cm or 16" in height. I found it hard to measure him as he was fidgeting at the time. As to weight, he is light and manageable for young children (and older ones) to cuddle and to carry around. This toy dog isn't perfectly life size in proportion but it is similar. The difference is that this is a toy and looks like a toy but is still life like enough to be instantly recognisable as a Westie dog. ~~FEEL/APPEARANCE~~ This lovable pooch does feel rather nice. Real Westies have coarse fur but this one's fur feels like Joey's does when it is soft from a recent bath. The fur also LOOKS more like Joey's does when he has had a bath and for a while is so white that we call him 'snowflake!' Wills really is cuddly and of a good size for a child (or adult) to cuddle. The undersides of his paws are white and they are of very short smooth fur, also feeling nice to the touch, although not realistic to real doggy paws. Around his neck is a lovely bright red knitted scarf (pink in the case of girl Westies!) And attached to this is an imitation United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland passport by Playful Pals. Wills passport declares that his forename is indeed Wills and his surname is Westie and that he is British. I think the pink scarved Westie is also called wills and I do think, if this is the case, then BHS should have used a little more imagination and called her Wendy or Wanda Westie! ~~WASHING~~ Wills the Westie likes to have a bath if the water isn't too hot. Yes, he is washable and instructions are on a label on his underside. These state that he should be hand washed and NOT dry cleaned or tumble dried. Well this makes sense, as I would only hand wash Joey and would certainly NOT tumble dry him! It is advised that the scarf should be removed and washed separately from the toy. ~~AGE SUITABILITY~~ Wills is NOT suitable for children under the age of one year due to the chance of the fur detaching from the toy and causing a choking hazard. I personally would feel safer in recommending this soft toy to children from around the age of three years and upwards. In the case of a novelty toy, or simply for a room decoration, then again, fit's suitable from around the age of three but going up to about ninety-eight years of age really. I believe stroking this pooch helps to lower blood pressure! ~~TOUGHNESS/SAFETY~~ I have given the fur a good tug and none of it came away from the toy (sorry Wills-I didn't mean to hurt you) but, just in case, I still wouldn't feel safe if this toy were given to a child likely to chew the fur. Although it is supposed to be suitable from the age of twelve months and over, if I was buying for a toddler, I would perhaps not choose this one but would be more likely to shop at a dedicated children's store. I also had a tug at the black nose and the eyes, and these also felt secure but, again I haven't given this toy to a young child; if I was going to then I would test more rigorously. I feel toys such as this if intended for children under the Age of three are safer if the nose and eyes are painted or well stitched on. It seems tough enough in general and well-made but its longevity, of course, will depend on how tough the owner is. My four, as children, were fairly gentle with their toys and so I would have expected this toy to last for years. This toy is manufactured in China for British Home Stores. ~~OVERALL- WHAT DOES MY BIG BABY THINK OF WILLS~~ My daughter was delighted to receive this as a gift. When she was absent from her room, I placed Wills quietly on her bed and asked him to keep quiet. When I had left the room I waited for my daughter to return to her room and the n waited for a reaction. It came in the form of a giggle. "Joey's brother!" She exclaimed. She then introduced Wills to Joey who wanted to further test the fur by biting it to see if it came away. He did leave it alone long enough to pose for a photo with his double, but I think he is a little threatened and believes Wills to be a usurper. I feel this is a lovely attractive toy for those who are keen on cuddly toys. Wills Westie is now living at university and I hear he is partial to sleeping at the end of my daughter's bed. She calls him Joey rather than Wills. She says he behaves impeccably and is easy to look after; very low maintenance compared to Joey although, in all honesty, not half so much fun.