It started out innocently enough. One of our clients at MoJo’s had requested some special tennis ball toys because she read in an article that real tennis balls contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets. These tennis ball toys happen to come from one of the best retailers that we carry, Planet Dog. Their toys are virtually indestructible. (Or at least the ones that are labeled so.) Their Orbees are among the very few toys that remain from MoJo’s Backyard’s inception to this very day. Most other toys have been gnawed, chewed, scratched and eroded away, chip by chip, fluff by fluff until they are but nubs of their formal selves. So not only are Planet Dog toys durable but they are also cute and smell minty. And since I was already placing an order, Michelle and I decided to try out something from their produce line, which just happens to have this irresistible description:
“Orbee-Tuff® Raspberry with Treat Spot™
4 out of 5 Chompers
Give your buddy a shot of B12 with our new Orbee-Tuff® Raspberry.This toy delivers 100% of a dog’s daily requirement of rompoflavin, chompohydrates, vitamin WAG and dietary fun.
Non-toxic, recyclable and rinses clean. Made in the U.S.A.
For small dogs, only!”
Seriously, what’s NOT to like? It’s a cute raspberry toy that you can fill with treats, that will aid in teeth cleaning, that bounces and entices. Not to mention that it’s earth friendly and keeps people at work here in the U.S.A. It’s just good stuff.
The day that I come home with the new dog toy, Misha knows something is up. Well, let me back up a little. Michelle had given me a stuffed lobster dog toy because I had been pining over one on a dog website. My plans were to reserve the toy for some Paco-absent play because of his notorious and nefarious habit of destroying anything fleece, fluffed or scarfy (let’s just say that I now call him Paco-The-Ripper and that I have an unprofessionally recreated piece of neckwear that I now call Frankenscarf). For the mere instant that I had turned away, Jerritt found the occasion to say (a common phrase in the house), “What does Misha have in her mouth?” I turn around and this is what I see: The sweet innocent lobster that had been stuffed into my purse was now hanging limp in the jowls of Misha’s mouth. Her eyes were big and asking, “Can I please have this? Please?” Strangely enough, when Misha has something she isn’t supposed to have, she surely will bring it into the room that we’re in, sit down and give the pleading look as if asking if it’s okay.
I say, “Misha, no,” and take the lobster from her and put it on a high shelf in the bedroom. Score one for Megan.
Not more that 30 minutes later, she watches as I pull a minty, purple, oversized raspberry from my purse and proceed to push past her taking Chloe into the bedroom behind closed doors. I know what her doggie eyes saw, a toy –a NEW toy- perfect sized for her to chew and then swallow. A snack. A tasty treat. A reward. And then all that snatched away before she could even give the “please” eyes. Let’s backtrack again so that you can become acquainted with the Misha we all know and love. Misha has it hard-wired into her brain that every toy that enters the house is hers first. She owns it, she guards it and if someone else has it, she pouts. Only when that toy has become old news or another new, favored toy has taken its place may the other dogs play with it. The technical term for such a dog is: Brathole. So when her eyes beheld the shiny, new object of interest and desire and then saw it swept away into the next room, curiosity grew to obsession.
Now, I don’t keep the raspberry from her for some sadistic animal torture…while it is perfectly sized for Chloe’s Toy Fox Terrier mouth, it is genuinely small enough to become lodged in Misha’s Rottweiler throat. And though I believe that she would deem it a blissful way to go, I don’t think she’d enjoy the pounding and Heimliching that would follow her downing the toy in one gulp. And, in my defense, Chloe doesn’t get many toys of her own because we have to keep any small toys picked up so that big dog mouths don’t find new choking hazards.
So Chloe and I enjoy some alone time in the bedroom. She’s working the ball in a happy attempt to remove the food from its belly and I’m watching as the cuteness washes over me. She looks like she has an everlasting gobstopper from Willy Wonka and it’s a perfect description because it IS actually everlasting. I make sure that Jerritt knows she has it and to keep tabs on it so that it doesn’t fall into prying jaws.
Later that night, we leave to see a movie. But before we embark, Jerritt plucks the Raspberry from Chloe’s clutches and emerges from the bedroom. This is what Misha has been waiting for! It’s her turn with the toy! “No, wait, why aren’t you giving it to me? Dad, why are you putting it away in the drawer? You know that I can’t open drawers.” You can see the host of emotions fleet across Misha’s face. Joy, excitement, confusion, disappointment. And then later, we are to discover, anger.
When we return a few hours later, Jerritt’s iPhone headphones are laying on the floor, in plain site, earbuds mangled and foam (presumably) digesting. She’s done this before when angry or pouting. She’s done it to remotes and cell phones. Chloe does something similar when mad. Though she’s housebroken and has been for years, she will come, stand in front of you and pee. Chloe pees inside. Misha chews stuff. Feel their wrath. Score one for Misha.
Later, we put Chloe in her crate so she can enjoy her toy and the other dogs can be in the bedroom too. She’s happily licking and chewing away while Paco and Tetsuma come and go, putting an investigative nose up to the bars only to be flung back by a snarling, furious Chloe. It’s much like the scene from Jurassic Park when the velociraptors are being transferred into their new home. The gate goes up and a workman is dragged over the threshold. The raptors make a high-whine screaming sound much like Chloe does and the Safari-Hat Man yells, “Shoot her! Shooooot Herrrrr!” She reenacts this scene a lot. When under the blanket, when with a bone, when in her crate, when grumpy from a nap, when guarding people food that’s not rightfully hers in the first place. Mostly, she snaps at Tetsy but she’ll throw one at Paco too and Misha has pretty much learned to not even bother. But this night is different. Chloe is like a caved dragon hoarding her precious treasure and Misha is lying next to the crate, seriously pouting. Score one for Chloe.