Friday, July 23, 2010


At about 2 pm every day, Bobo decides that it’s a good idea to flip out. As she has aged, this tendency of hers has become slightly less abrasive, but unfortunately it has not extinguished completely. Since 2 pm is prime time to meetings and other business related activities, I am constantly trying out ways to distract psycho-puppy during that timeframe. In yet another attempt to find something that would entertain her and that she couldn’t completely destroy in less than a minute, I purchased the Bob-A-Lot. It’s a completely stupid name, but is it really any worse than “Slap-Chop?” For only $19.95, my young dog could be quiet for an hour or so, entertaining herself with a device that distributes tasty treats at untimed intervals and my old dog could potentially be persuaded to eat more without bribery.

The Bob-A-Lot is a pear shaped item with a hole in the top to put food and treats and a hole in the bottom to distribute them. The premise is quite clever really, the shape and the location of the lower hole make it so the dog needs to bat the item around for awhile to get the food inside into the proper configuration and angle to come out of the lower hole. It is a great concept, but the burning questions are: is it fun enough to keep Bobo interested and is it tough enough to be Bobo-proof?

At first Bobo had no interest in it, but Nugget the cat thought it was good fun. The problem was that the Bob-A-Lot is about as big as he is so he didn’t have much luck getting it to move. I had to push it around a little bit to get some of the snacks to come out before either of the dogs became even remotely interested in its presence in the universe. When Bobo did actually take notice, the first thing she did was what she always does. She tried to chew through it. She picked up the Bob-A-Lot by its little yellow cap and started carrying it around the house. She quickly discovered that her usual destructive mode of operations was not going to be effective and put it back down. Then she lost interest again. The critical take away from this is that even after she chewed on the cap and carried it all over the house, she wasn’t able to chew through and destroy it. Score 1.

She slowly began to gain interest back in the Bob-A-Lot after I put better treats in it. Apparently just her food wasn’t good enough. She needed the prize to be peppered with cookies. Go figure. I suppose if you are going to work that hard for a snack, it only seems fair that you should get a cookie or two at the end.

Zac on the other hand had no interest in playing with the thing, and only followed me around when I was on the floor batting it around because I knew the trick to making the food and cookies come out. I smacked that thing and out came a smattering of tasty treats.
For days, this is how it went. I played with the toy and the dogs followed me around eating the mess I left behind. When I was done playing, I left the Bob-A-Lot on the floor in the hopes that one of the canines would follow my lead and bat it around themselves.

At about day four, I had successfully taught the dogs what to do. Play with the Bob-A-Lot until something came out and then eat what comes out. The thing I hadn’t counted on was that the game would turn into a team sport. Bobo had no interest in the food and Zac had no interest in making the food appear. So Bobo ended up playing with the Bob-A-Lot, smacking it around and entertaining herself for (I can’t really say hours…) some indeterminate amount of time, happily keeping to herself and neither bothering me to take her out nor pulling the pillows off the bed (Score 2), and Zac followed her around eating anything that came out of the lower hole (Score 3).

All in all if you have the time to teach your dog(s) how the game works, it really is quite effective. All of my goals were achieved. The Bob-A-Lot is durable enough for Bobo, and both dogs were entertained and fed. The added bonus is that the activity even made the pups tired, and a tired dog is a good dog. All in all the Bob-A-Lot is effective and makes for an entertaining, tiring afternoon for a dog and a calm afternoon for a person.

No comments:

Post a Comment