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Elmo finds a new friend in Piper the puppy

East Bernard Express of East Bernard, Texas

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Anybody remember the "Tickle Me Elmo" dolls from the mid 1990s? Based on the Sesame Street character, the red, furry doll is about 12 inches tall and when you touch his stomach in just the right place, he giggles and moves his arms and legs up and down. From what I remember, he was quite the hot ticket item for Christmas in about 1996.

He also says random things like, "ready to laugh with Elmo?" and "it's tickle time". In today's society where people do strange things to other people, he kind of just freaks me out.

But when my niece cleaned out her twins' toy box, she passed down Elmo. She thought my grandson, who was 1 at the time, might enjoy playing with Elmo. To be honest, he was a little freaked out by him too.

However, our 3-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy loves to tickle Elmo. Or torment him to no end, as the case may be. Piper, the puppy, discovered him in the toy box soon after we got her. It took her no time at all to realize she could toss Elmo around and he would make noise.

Elmo has some sort of timer that if you don't tickle him for 20 seconds, he quits laughing. This drives Piper crazy. First she'll bark at him. Obviously Elmo doesn't respond well to voice commands, so Piper pounces on him. Then Elmo laughs, nothing funny about as far as I'm concerned, but the session continues.

It was really cute the first time it happened. The family got a big kick out of it and the girls took the opportunity to snapchat their friends. Weeks later it was still kind of cute but I would hide the toy after a few minutes of that ruckus. Now going on three months, I really just want to throw Elmo away. My youngest, the puppy's owner, won't let me.

"Piper loves that thing," she always says.

The other night Piper and Elmo were having quite the go around — tickle, laugh, bark. Repeat. My husband was on the couch trying to watch a baseball game and finally had enough. He picked up Elmo and turned him off. Silence.

How did I not know this was an option? Instead of stuffing Elmo in a closet, I could have simply turned his switch to off. Wish everything that annoyed me had an on-off button.

Tricia Potts, a mother of four, is a homemaker and newspaper columnist living in East Bernard.

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Original Publication Date: July 9, 2016

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