It is difficult to find good dog toys. There is a huge variety available on the market, but they are either boring for the dog after five minutes, can be destroyed, demolished, and swallowed either whole or in pieces in ten minutes, or are ridiculously expensive. And even the very expensive "behavioral" toys, games, puzzles, and so on either lose their interest for the intelligent and active dog after a while, or they find a way to destroy them or lose the pieces. Toys that work on food motivation often motivate a clever dog to find an imaginative way to penetrate them to get to the food, without all the play that was intended.
So imagine my joy when we found in a small pet supply shop in a village here in Italy a ball
that seemed to be unique in its ability to fascinate the dogs. It is a spiky ball of some fairly hard and resistant plastic or rubber, but still soft enough for the dog to chomp on to create a fascinating squeak, and activate flashing lights in blue and red.
My collies love to run after things and retrieve, but tend to get bored quickly. But they became totally obsessed with this ball. They were ready to run after it for hours, catching it, squeaking it, and begging for me to throw it again. They would stand looking at me with begging eyes, chewing the ball to make it squeak – "Please throw it again! Again! Again!" The Canaans, in general not very interested in this sort of game, were not very interested in this ball, but my housemate's braccho italiano was even more obsessed than the collies.
And even better, this ball seemed to be almost indestructible. Hours of play and chewing left it minus a few of the spikes, but still whole, undestroyed, still squeaking, and still flashing. Weeks went by, and the ball was still alive and well, and the dogs remained obsessed.
Since it was such a great success, we decided we should buy more of these balls for future use. There were two more at the pet shop, which we quickly bought, and the shop owner said they were due to get more in a few weeks.
One of the balls bounced over the fence and disappeared down the hill into limbo. A second ball went with one of my collie girls when she travelled to a few shows with a handler, to help her feel happy and at home – she was one of the most obsessed. But she returned without the ball, it was forgotten at the handler's place, and there has still not been an opportunity to get it back yet. One ball is left. The flashing lights have stopped – they did last for a long time – but the ball, despite being minus a number of spikes, still squeaks and bounces very well, and the dogs are still obsessed with it, refusing to play with other toys and waiting for me to bring it out and start the game.
I was getting very worried – what would happen if something happened to this ball, or if it finally got chewed up? We did not know the name of the company that produced it, and the shop where we got them was hours of travel away, and meanwhile had not gotten a new supply.
So what do you do in this sort of situation? You search for things on the internet. We searched for "dog toy ball, flashing light and squeaker". And we got results!
The results were on one of the Chinese websites that is rather like a Chinese Amazon – it sells everything under the sun representing manufacturers, retailers, and anyone wanting to sell. And there they were – balls! They looked just like our ball in the photos, and they were really cheap! True, it would take two months for them to arrive, but we expected the ball we had to last for at least another two months. We immediately ordered 20 Chinese balls – that should be enough for a while.
Two months passed, and a package arrived. Well, not really a package. It was a large airmail envelope. We opened it, and there were the 20 balls. But!!!! These were smaller – not the size we ordered, softer, and because they were soft, about 15 of the 20 were squished from the transport and no longer in the shape of balls. They rather looked like a peach that has been stepped on…
When we tried playing with the dogs, we discovered that the dogs did like them, but after ten minutes of rough play and chewing, the balls were demolished and the squeaker and the thingy that produced the flashing lights fell out – things that were just the size to be easily swallowed by dogs.
What a disappointment!!!! Of course, we complained to the supplier, who agreed to refund the purchase price, and begged us not to ruin his reputation!!!! But now we had no balls!!!!
The moral of this story is, don't trust Chinese Balls!
And if anyone knows where to find the originals, please let me know!!!