Friday, May 7, 2010


The busier we got, the more creative we became with our dog’s chew toys. I like to think of myself as a good dog owner, but the very nature of that statement makes me, by default no better than a mediocre one. The fact that I think of myself as a dog “owner” at all eliminates enough puppy-parent-points to leave me spending my life trying to redeem myslef. I would love to say that I want to be the kind of person that my dog thinks I am, but I think my dog knows exactly the kind of person that I am, which would explain why she spends every moment she can trying to push me over the edge. She knows how easy it is, and although for her, it’s just plain fun, for me it’s something a little more unfortunate than that.

We work from home, and although we spend a lot of time every morning making sure the dogs’ needs are met well before ours are, there is always that 2:00 to 3:00 time period where people crash and dogs get their second wind. I’m a little unclear as to why these two species who have had such a fantastic symbiotic relationship for the past 10,000 years are so out of sync on this one. Perhaps the out-of-sync-ness is a recent result of the industrial, technological and information ages wherein the sustainment of life became much easier and less time consuming and humans stopped becoming hunter/gatherers and started becoming text-er/on-line shoppers, widening the distance between us and our canine counterparts. Whatever the reason, there is that time of day when the pups just wanna run and I just wanna tear my hair out because of the stupidity and redundancy and inane-ness of it all. It is at this time that it’s really easy to push me over the edge, somehow, Bobo knows it, enjoys doing it, and while doing it, silently chuckles to herself as she pulls yet another shirt out of the hamper and chews out the armpits.

As my workload increased, I also got more creative about Bobo’s afternoon entertainment. I figured if she could entertain herself for just a few hours every afternoon while I was trying my damndest not to loose my mind, maybe we could come to some mutual understanding on how to best to cohabitate. She could chew on something that was intended for those purposes, and I could not feel like I spent all my time working just to replace all the shirts and pants she decided to eat the sweaty parts out of.

Thus the Atomic Treat Ball was purchased. It claims to be “made of tough, safe, non-toxic thermoplastic material,” and perhaps this is true, but not for this set of jaws. Bobo must have been a pit bull in a past life. She has the jaw strength of a Crocodile. She chewed through one of the super-industrial-strength black Kongs in about 3 minutes. If you don’t know already, that’s not supposed to happen. I guess that should have provided the first clue that a different product would probably not fare much better, but she did the Kong-damage when we first got her and she was terrified and nervous and had zero manners. That was 3 years ago and she no longer qualifies in any of those categories. I wrongly thought that she would focus on getting the treats out of the treat ball and not just save time and eat the treat ball itself. I guess you can’t tell a dog that is she eats the toy, the fun will be over because there won’t be any toy left. Reasoning doesn’t work that well with canines. It doesn’t’ really work that well with humans either, so I guess in that respect the species are still in sync.

The overall concept of the Atomic Treat Ball is a good one. The odd shape makes it roll sort of funny and the treats do come out randomly (or so it would seem to a dog) which makes the whole experience pretty entertaining for the pup and rather humorous to watch for the people. The problem is that the “tough, safe, non-toxic thermoplastic” just isn’t that tough. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know that I could chew through it, but I think I know a few people who could.

The end result of the meeting between the Atomic Treat Ball and Bobo was very simple. The hole from which the treats are distributed was widened so that the treats no longer came out randomly, but instead poured out. Thus eliminating the entertainment associated with the distribution method. It rapidly became just a new way to pour food on the floor. Since that day, the Atomic Treat Ball has sat in the Atomic Treat Cabinet to assure that no more Atomic Treat Parts are spit out on the carpet. Clearly the Atomic Treat Ball needs to be made out of some sort of Atomic Treat Material. Perhaps Unobtainium would do the trick. But the presence of that material would even more widen the chasm between man and man’s best friend. This would move us even further away from the natural instincts we once embraced.

The “ease-of-use” stamped on most of our lives is really just a self-destructive slinky spiraling to infinity. And our inventions and purchases, one after the other are designed for the sole purpose of making our lives easier. But just because it’s easier, doesn’t mean it’s simpler. Simplicity is allowing your dog to eat your shorts because that’s just what dogs do. Ease is going on line to purchase a plastic toy to occupy your dog so you can do something else instead of telling your dog not to eat your shorts. The ease is in occupying our pups to assure that they are seen and not heard during our busiest and most irritating times of the day, simplicity is not having a most irritating time of the day in the first place.

And all best intentions fully acknowledged, the very fact that this purchase was even made means that instead of the simple solution of taking her out for a walk or paying some real attention to her, I just resorted to the seemingly easy solution – buy something to fix the problem. And this my friends is the real reason that I will never be the kind of person my Bobo thinks I am.

1 comment:

  1. We have a boxer rotty mix who also tends to chew toys to pieces in minutes. Thank goodness he only chews his stuff as long as we don't abandon him at home alone. We also purchased one of these type toys. Not only did he chew it up he was too smart for it. He chewed the plug (where you insert the treats and screw the plug back in) completely out; thereby making it useless for our less destructive beagle. While I think the concept of these toys is a great idea I am convinced that some dogs would chew asphalt if they thought it would annoy you :)