It must be Fall. In Miami, it’s not always so easy to tell. So you know how I know it's here? The season’s very first pair of cool[-ish] weather slippers got shredded last night by a dog with an overzealous chew drive. 

You’d think that with all the toys lying strewn about — compared with the off-limits placement of the shoes — there’d be no mistaking the permissible from the illicit. Yet that’s rarely the case when it comes to my dogs’ impressive chew drive — less still with respect to a nice new pair of enticingly fuzzy slippers.

Now, you wouldn’t think that with my mix of critters I’d have so much trouble with the canine need to masticate for no discernible reason (from a human’s perspective, that is), but even the two dogs whose jaws don’t properly meet manifest a strong penchant for sexy stilettos and display a corresponding disdain for "dog toys."

What’s a responsible dog owner to do? (Besides take better care of her stuff, I mean.)

All this illegal chewing is why I find myself pulling my hair out … frequently. With Vincent it’s the glasses. He has a thing for expensive plastic frames. (Prada, anyone?) Good thing I finally learned to keep my glasses on a short leash.

Not so with my shoes, seeing as I wear at least four different pairs every day (you would too if you milked a goat twice a day, worked out at lunch and held three different jobs). Add in a twelve year-old with a constitutional inability to close a door behind him and you’ve got trouble.

OK, so back to the point of this post (or was it a plea?). I’m looking for toys. Great dog toys to be exact. (I usually write a cat-toy post for the holidays, so save your good feline fun things for then … or offer them up anyway if you really can’t control the urge to share your great find.)

The ideal dog toy for me? Here’s my wish list:

  1. Attractive (to the dog) almost immediately (though I can wait a quiet hour or two for an exuberant interest to develop).
  2. Enticing enough to engender a willingness to chew said thing in the crate (or otherwise independently) for a prolonged period of time without the need for direct observation. Repeatedly.
  3. It can’t fall apart under vigorous dental pressure. Too many toy makers say their toys are indestructible, and yet the next day they’re in pieces in the feces. (Kong, Orbee-Tuff and Busy-Buddy people, are you listening?)
  4. The object can’t be so hard that I might potentially end up with an expensive root canal on my hands. 
  5. The ideal toy should offer me options for when it starts to get boring to the dog. For example, it should have a spot for an add-on element or a cavity for hiding treats. 
  6. It should be easy to clean.
  7. I prefer toys that look cool strewn about my home. (Seriously, I think both pet and kid toys should be well designed and aesthetically pleasing.)
  8. It shouldn’t cost a mint. After all, I’ve yet to find a toy that meets all the above criteria. 

OK, so I have to admit that there are a few toys that have come close to making me very, very happy. Here’s that list:

  1. I love this giant purple Wubba throw toy we've got. It’s made of heavy-duty nylon and while it doesn’t get tons of attention, it’s a toy they consistently drag out at least once a week. It has so far proved indestructible … and I like its looks.
  2. The ubiquitous rope thing. It’s like the Wubba. Only more bare bones. It’s trouble is the same, however. It’s a great toy for throwing but it doesn’t inspire independent play too often. And if it did, I suspect they’d kill it quickly.
  3. The small, AKC-branded stuffed animals. These are the kind of toys my small guys can use to play an excellent game of keepaway from the bigger guys. The min-pin foster-dog (Gastón) loves the little fox, but I’ve also seen Pinky pick it up and throw it around for no good reason. It washes surprisingly well. And for some reason I cannot fathom, no one ever tries to take it apart.
  4. Raw lamb shank. Though a one-time-only deal - it's not renewable, it's very messy, expensive, and plus, you’ve gotta observe the play and take it away as soon as you hear tooth meet bone - it's simply the best.

OK, so I’m done. Now it’s your turn.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pics of the day: "Pinky's chew toy," "remains of the toy," and "slippered feet with fox toy" (respectively) by Me