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Luke Skywalker is fighting with Darth Vader (father/son relationships can be problematic). Being the evil one, Darth taunts Luke.
“I know what you’re getting for Christmas hahahahaha”.
Luke is furious. “How do you know?”
Darth Vader replies, “I felt your presents…”
Buying presents for people can be hard enough sometimes. The familiar image of panicked men rushing around shops in a desperate search for anything remotely suitable on Christmas Eve will be soon upon us. There have already been riots in England in a mad scramble for cuddly carrots – I blame Brexit…
Choosing a gift for a dog would seem to be an easier task, given that they are often more easy to please. However, it still pays to think about what to get your 4-legged friend this Yuletide as there are a few things to avoid. Even a simple chew toy made have a nasty surprise.
My Mum used to watch the soap opera Dynasty in the 80s. I remember one storyline (we only had one TV!) in which one character tried to poison a rival by using toxic paint to decorate their office. Similarly, even if we don’t mean to do so, we can endanger our dogs by getting toys for them that contain dangerous elements. Lead, chromium, cadmium and even mercury and arsenic have been found in some cheaper toys. Bearing in mind that many dogs will chew and slobber all over their toys, it is best to look closely at labels to see if there is anything mentioned that could be a cause for concern. Dog toy safety is not regulated officially so it is up to us to be vigilant.
Of course, we all know that dogs don’t see toys as mere playthings. For them, toys can represent a trophy which can be used to raise their status (my sister and I would sometimes fight over the same toy; the moment one of us won the fight, the toy was no longer important). They can also be cleverly used as a way to get attention, again putting them in a position of influence. I once met a dog that brought all 8 of its toys to me to see which one would work. The first attempt was with a tennis ball, which prompted the owner to say that he wanted to play tennis with me. I would have been more convinced of that if he had then fetched a couple of racquets…
Have you ever seen a dog shake a toy? Sometimes they do it with a sock or shoe as well. This is a natural, hunting instinct that is designed to kill whatever it is in their mouth. This explains why some dogs will systematically destroy any squeaky toy until it squeaks no more. Dead animals don’t squeak… Even fluffy toys that make no sound are not immune to having their guts ripped out. Merry Christmas…
Sometimes, people will purchase a so-called “Indestructi-Ball” in the hope that the dog will now have a toy that lasts. I know of one dog who tried its best to “kill” the ball to no avail. This resulted in the poor pooch being terrified of this “Super Rat” that could not be destroyed. He shut down completely and dare not go into the garden where the offending article still lived. The solution was simple – kill Super Rat. Once it was pierced with a knife and could squeak no more, our hero took the evil toy into the garden, threw it into the air and did a victory roll. A happy ending!
Watch how one dog gets fun out of an ordinary box, tries to get the Goldie’s attention with it (then succeeds with the human using a tennis ball - textbook!)
Similarly, if we want to give our dogs something edible to chew on, there are good and bad options. There are some artificial bones that may not be covered in poisoned paint but can cause injury by breaking apart into splinters. It is a good idea to get something as natural as possible, so why not get them some bone-shaped biscuits? There are even recipes online that show you how to make them at home. Given that there are that many cooking shows and channels these days, surely everyone is a cordon bleu chef these days, right?
Ultimately (and I hope I do not traumatise anyone of a sensitive nature with this), dogs do not understand the concept of Christmas, so they won’t take it personally if you don’t get them anything. Getting leftover food in their bowl is already a treat (making sure that it is food that they can safely eat as you will know from my previous blog). Of course, if you want to buy something for your 4-legged friend that is fine and there are lots of great gifts out there. Choose your gift wisely (or maybe let them have the box that your present came in…).
All the best,