Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Toys and dead things: ne'er the twain shall meet

So I was online, shopping for toys for the dogs. Because heaven knows, Phoenix and Banner don't have enough toys.

I had in mind a couple of new things I wanted to get for Banner because he is continuing his "I am not a malinois" campaign and that extends to toy preference and play style. Even though he is all about tugging and playing, he really does not care for Phoenix's french linen tugs or jute bite sticks. He's not ball crazy, either - yet - but I am cautiously optimistic on that front.

He likes to bite soft things. Because he is mummy's darling furry little marshmallow puff sweetums. Who bites like a rabid badger on crack. But only soft things. I don't know if this preference will change as he gets older but at six months, he shows a deranged joy in biting and tugging things with the consistency of Smartwool socks and fleece jacket sleeves. The softer, the better.

This extends to dead mice, rats and birds. I know this because the cats have been bringing their kills into the yard all fall and depositing them for my inspection. This is a new development and one I am not encouraging but the cats do not understand my reluctance to admire their hunting prowess. Banner, however, is overjoyed by the endless smorgasbord of dead critters. This tends to not end well.

Picture a middle-aged woman trying frantically to extricate a dead rodent from the jaws of a puppy who is gleefully munching on it while racing around the yard with said dead rodent tail hanging out of his mouth. Yeah. It's a good thing our closest neighbor is the Farmer's mother and she knows her daughter-in-law is a little . . . different.

I've spent the last couple of months prying slobbery, slimy deceased little carcasses out of Banner's mouth on a regular basis. To date, I think he's only eaten one. That I know about.

He still won't drop anything on command. He figures if I want a dead rat that bad I can go get my own. On the bright side, now when he has a dead varmint in his mouth, he WILL come when he's called, then stands in front of me with his jaws clamped tightly shut and little feet or tails sticking out the side of his mouth.

So with that in mind, I'm browsing one of my favorite online purveyors of all things dog, looking for simple braided fleece tugs when what to my wondering eyes should appear but . . . toys made out of dead things.


Critter fur is all the rage on the toy scene these days.

Rabbit fur. Raccoon fur. Sheep fur (okay, wool). Cow hide with fur attached. Cow fur? Really?

There are all kinds of fur-enhanced toys out there, intended to drive your dog into paroxysms of joy by their smell and texture. There are toys wrapped in critter fur, toys with fur hidden inside them, toys with fur braided throughout and toys made entirely of fur.

Not on my watch. Nosireebob.

I am not spending my toy budget on pieces of dead animals. I spend too much time prying the real thing out of the Aussie Jaws of Death. (Oddly enough, Phoenix wants little to do with the pre-killed varmints that turn up in our lawn. If he can't participate in the killing, he's not interested.)

Besides, Banner can be driven into paroxysms of joy by the smell and texture of a dirty sock.

There are already a few of the damn fur enhanced toys (or what is left of them) in various toy boxes through our house, purchased in moments of weakness before I knew better. They're the sort of thing that I saw at a vendor's booth and thought, oh COOL, my dogs will LOVE this! Must buy!

What was I thinking? Do you know what one of those lovely fluffy rabbit fur-and-fleece tugs looks like after 5 minutes of active play with an easily stimulated dog?

You got it - exactly like the mangled, slobber-soaked dead things I've been prying out of canine jaws all fall.

And if the slime factor wasn't enough, both Phoenix and Banner will halt the play if given a chance and commence with single-minded, full-scale destruction of the furry part.

"Excuse me while I rip this pesky varmint to pieces. Please excuse the maniacal gleam in my eye while I systematically shred a $20 bill in front of your eyes. Okay. Done. You were saying?"

I admire people whose dogs can play with those tugs without reducing them to a dripping saliva rope. I just don't have one.


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