I’ve finally faced the harsh realization that I can’t buy my dogs cute, cuddly toys. I have two huge German shepherds. Luke and Dexter. They’re not binky type dogs. They don’t cuddle with stuffed toys, they eviscerate them. Think I’m kidding? Take a look at Luke’s recent dastardly deed.
And there’s never any guilt involved. I swear he’s smiling. But it gets worse.
What kind of dog does that and then simply snoozes among the carnage?
The same dog who would eat a couch, of course. Not that it helps the couch much, but that happened when Luke was still a puppy at around a year or so and, well, that’s not my couch. I had no idea what the skeleton of a sofa looked like.
Dexter is no angel, either, but I don’t have photos that prove he ate new base molding or mangled more screwdriver handles than I can count. Let’s not even discuss the dozen or more sprinkler heads. He’s a water bug and finds no greater joy than attacking the sprinklers as they spray his face — unless it’s eating hats that belong to out-of-town guests. The first warning they receive when they come to stay is to keep the guest room door closed. The second is that Dexter will eat your hat given half a chance. He won’t eat your shoes (He will untie your laces while you’re wearing your shoes, though.), nor will he eat your couch, you can leave him in your car for hours and he won’t touch the upholstery, but given the slightest opportunity, he will absolutely devour your baseball cap.
Finding toys that will last more than a few days has been a trial over the years. I have a boatload of Kongs, but for some reason my dogs don’t show a great interest in those. Sure, if I slather the innards with peanut butter or bacon grease, they’ll suck and lick and slobber all over a Kong, but once the sweet spot has dried up, that toy becomes invisible. And Luke, who’s six, has never been the type of dog to play ball or entertain himself with toys for very long beyond ripping out their squeaky hearts with his teeth, then walking around the house and squeaking nonstop until your ears nearly bleed. And he only stops when the noisy thing has finally, and mercifully, given up the ghost. Then he spits out the spent gob of plastic on the floor and takes a nap.
Dexter, at two years old, has always loved his toys and can play for hours with them. So, I’m always on the lookout for toys that will last, and I’m happy to report that I found three of them. Even Luke the Ripper hasn’t been able to kill them. They might not be perfect for all dogs, but mine love them and yours might, too.
Teaser Ball by Jolly Pets, about $15 at major pet stores, but I found them for $7.99 at HomeGoods.
This Teaser Ball is a few weeks old and has been played with pretty roughly, and it’s still in good shape.
First look: This 6-inch ball is made of hard plastic and contains a smaller ball of a different color inside, which the dogs can see but can’t get out. The more they play with the ball, the more the smaller ball rolls and rattles and teases.
Good news: This is the second one of these balls that I’ve bought in the past couple of months. Not because the first one was destroyed, because it’s lost. Dexter goes nuts trying to get to that ball inside and keeps at it for hours on and off. And while he does chew on it, the ball doesn’t get sharp edges, nor does it crack, it just wears down a bit.
Bad news: It’s hard plastic, so when you throw it, or when your dog slams Teaser on the wood floor, it’ll get your attention. It’s not a toy for quiet time.
Last words: I’m always going to keep one of these on hand to keep the dogs in check.
This Boingo Ball is about a month old, and while you can see some teeth marks on the rubber exterior, it’s still intact.
First look: This ball is about 5 inches in diameter and features a smaller hard plastic ball in the center and a rubber-like exterior. The center ball doesn’t move but rattles as Boingo is bounced around, adding another point of interest for the dog.
Good news: I love this ball and the dogs love it, too. Boingo is tough enough to stand up nicely to German shepherd choppers and it sort of zigzags around when you throw it. Dexter can spend a lot of time tossing it around, chasing it and making it rattle like mad.
Bad news: I love Boingo but sometimes the non-stop rattling makes me twitch. And when Dexter gets on a roll with it, it does a lot of rattling.
Last word: I’ll put up with any sound that keeps the dogs entertained.
Orka Jack large toy by Petstages, about $15 at major pet stores and through Wayfair.
The Orka Jack is about 8 months old and if it were cleaned up, it would almost look like new.
First look: It looks like part of a giant jacks game, which might explain the moniker. Orka is made of synthetic rubber and it floats. Some of the arms are hollow so that you can stuff them with treats.
Good news: This is probably the toughest bouncy toy I’ve bought so far. Dexter loves it. He can chew on it like a maniac and not make a dent. Throw it, and you have no idea where it’s going to skitter off to. It makes a great fetch toy for the water since it floats. And it’s blissfully quiet, even in the house.
Bad News: Sometimes there just isn’t any.
Last word: Big teeth in my house can’t take a bite out of Orka Jack.
Luke, who looks oddly short in this photo, can’t seem to stop smiling over Orka Jack.
Dexter adores his Teaser Ball.
Dexter going in for a catch with Boingo.
If you want to hear the Boingo’s rattle, check out the video below. And if you have a tough toy your dog loves, please let me know, Dexter and Luke would be thrilled.