Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dogs in Toyland ... and What to do When the Urge to Chew Knows No Bounds

from petmd.com

It must be Spring. In Miami, it's not always so easy to tell. So you
know how I know it's here? The season's very first pair of cool[-ish]
weather slippers got shredded last night by a dog with an overzealous
chew drive.

You'd think that with all the toys lying strewn about — compared with
the off-limits placement of the shoes — there'd be no mistaking the
permissible from the illicit. Yet that's rarely the case when it
comes to my dogs' impressive chew drive — less still with respect to
a nice new pair of enticingly fuzzy slippers.

Now, you wouldn't think that with my mix of critters I'd have so much
trouble with the canine need to masticate for no discernible reason
(from a human's perspective, that is), but even the two dogs whose
jaws don't properly meet manifest a strong penchant for sexy
stilettos and display a corresponding disdain for "dog toys."

What's a responsible dog owner to do? (Besides take better care of
her stuff, I mean.)

All this illegal chewing is why I find myself pulling my hair out …
frequently. With Vincent it's the glasses. He has a thing for
expensive plastic frames. (Prada, anyone?) Good thing I finally
learned to keep my glasses on a short leash.

Not so with my shoes, seeing as I wear at least four different pairs
every day (you would too if you milked a goat twice a day, worked out
at lunch and held three different jobs). Add in a twelve year-old
with a constitutional inability to close a door behind him and you've
got trouble.

OK, so back to the point of this post (or was it a plea?). I'm
looking for toys. Great dog toys to be exact. (I usually write a
cat-toy post for the holidays, so save your good feline fun things
for then … or offer them up anyway if you really can't control the
urge to share your great find.)

The ideal dog toy for me? Here's my wish list:

Attractive (to the dog) almost immediately (though I can wait a quiet
hour or two for an exuberant interest to develop).

Enticing enough to engender a willingness to chew said thing in the
crate (or otherwise independently) for a prolonged period of time
without the need for direct observation. Repeatedly.

It can't fall apart under vigorous dental pressure. Too many toy
makers say their toys are indestructible, and yet the next day
they're in pieces in the feces. (Kong, Orbee-Tuff and Busy-Buddy
people, are you listening?)

The object can't be so hard that I might potentially end up with an
expensive root canal on my hands.

The ideal toy should offer me options for when it starts to get
boring to the dog. For example, it should have a spot for an add-on
element or a cavity for hiding treats.

It should be easy to clean.

I prefer toys that look cool strewn about my home. (Seriously, I
think both pet and kid toys should be well designed and aesthetically
pleasing.)

It shouldn't cost a mint. After all, I've yet to find a toy that
meets all the above criteria.


OK, so I have to admit that there are a few toys that have come close
to making me very, very happy. Here's that list:

I love this giant purple Wubba throw toy we've got. It's made of
heavy-duty nylon and while it doesn't get tons of attention, it's a
toy they consistently drag out at least once a week. It has so far
proved indestructible … and I like its looks.

The ubiquitous rope thing. It's like the Wubba. Only more bare bones.
It's trouble is the same, however. It's a great toy for throwing but
it doesn't inspire independent play too often. And if it did, I
suspect they'd kill it quickly.

The small, AKC-branded stuffed animals. These are the kind of toys my
small guys can use to play an excellent game of keepaway from the
bigger guys. The min-pin foster-dog (Gastón) loves the little fox,
but I've also seen Pinky pick it up and throw it around for no good
reason. It washes surprisingly well. And for some reason I cannot
fathom, no one ever tries to take it apart.

Raw lamb shank. Though a one-time-only deal - it's not renewable,
it's very messy, expensive, and plus, you've gotta observe the play
and take it away as soon as you hear tooth meet bone - it's simply
the best.

OK, so I'm done. Now it's your turn.

Dr. Patty Khuly

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