Bully sticks and Itty-Bitty Balls
November 28, 2006
My dachshund puppies, Freddie and Nick, are hooked on “bully sticks,” which, not to put too fine a point on it, are dried steer penises. The pet food industry has discovered that there’s no limit to the possibilities of marketing otherwise unsalvageable body parts from the slaughterhouses.First it was pigs’ ears and now there are lambs’ ears, oxtails, shrink-wrapped rib bones, knucklebones of indeterminate origin and all kinds of rawhide strips and twists, but once the kids tried bully sticks, nothing else would do.I was in Rocky Mountain Pet Shop the other day, trying to pick bully sticks of exactly equal size and shape (which of course never works, one bully stick is always much better than another), thinking that the rate the Doodle Bugs were going through them was tantamount to supporting a drug habit, and that if the sticks weren’t so odoriferous I should buy them by the case.While checking out with Ben, I asked him if they sold any small balls. Nicky had shown an interest in fetching crab apples this fall, but all the balls I had were too big for them to pick up.Ben said he had just the thing, and plucked a packet of three Itty-Bitty Balls off the wall. Lucky me, I got the last one.Well, the puppies went absolutely insane over the Itty-Bitty Balls. They were about the size of golf balls, made of hard rubber and covered with tennis ball material. They bounced high, and Freddie and Nick flew after them.In five seconds, the Itty-Bitty balls had disappeared – behind the refrigerator, under the couch, under an easy chair – and the game changed from the puppies chasing and dropping the balls into my waiting hands to me on my hands and knees engaged in a great big Easter egg hunt for the colorful Itty-Bitty Balls.A week later I stopped by Rocky Mountain Pet for the babies’ bully stick fix and was delighted to learn that a new shipment of Itty-Bitty Balls had just arrived. Now, with nine Itty-Bitty Balls, I felt reasonably assured that I would probably be able to locate three or four of them at any given time.Apparently, a plethora of Itty-Bitty Balls took the sport out of it for the puppies. The sport for them, it turned out, was to make me hunt for the balls. With balls all around them, they would just sit and look at me piteously (Nicky, as usual, oinking) and when I didn’t fall for that, they began hiding them.I found Itty-Bitties under chair cushions, tucked under the covers of their bed, and once I caught sly little Freddie nudging one under the couch. Sure as sure can be, I’m going to get up in the night and slip on an Itty-Bitty Ball, so I should probably stop trying to get them to fetch and instead concentrate on teaching the clever little dachshunds to dial 911.Su Lum is a longtime local whose column appears every Wednesday. The thing she loves most about all dachshunds is their sense of humor.
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