Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Unreleated Interests: Antlers and Photos from Readers

Reading Glasses and Antler Chews

Today I have two unrelated topics to cover - both interesting and important to me.

First, I'm going to discuss chews for dogs, then we're going to share some new photos sent in by alert readers (to shamelessly borrow a term from writer Dave Barry.)

I don't know how many of you live with dogs who are heavy chewers. Of the three girls I live with, two could chew their way through a wrestler's arm in short order.
Not that they would - but they could.


Lil-the-Tooth



These faces may look mild but they contain jaws of destruction. Toys, paint brushes, rolls of tape, a pair of rubber garden shoes, a knit glove, a leather glove, and enough bones to build a cow from scratch have all been either critically maimed or completely eaten by the teeth in these mouths. These are dogs who could eat and chew on a professional level, in fact on an Olympic medal placing level.



Gracie-"Jaws"-Oslund

As a result, I am always on the lookout for items which are supposed to stand up to "tough chewers."

I find that many marketers either have an inflated -- perhaps even false sense--of the sort of tough chewing their items will stand up to, or they simply don't know dogs who chew on an Olympic medal level. Either way, I seldom expect products to live up to their billing of being "virtually indestructible" or "suitable for very heavy chewers." All products I've tried are basically neither.

Jenny-Gentle-Mouth
If an item is not interesting it might last a long time in this house, however, that is only because no one wants play with it. I think there should be a clearer distinction between being a boring toy and an indestructible toy.
For example, we've tried some of those heavy duty rubberized toys that look like they've been made from car tires. They lasted for months because no one cared to touch them. Then one night the two dog destruction team of Tooth and Jaws, perhaps annoyed that I was giving this blog too much attention, decided to put the claims of "long lasting" to the test and proceeded to rip large chunks out of these heavy duty rubber toys and scatter the pieces under the dining room table (because I was in the next room, paying attention to this naughty computer instead of them...really these things are always my fault.) In other words, once "used" these "long lasting" toys didn't last even one night. Granted, I suppose the toy designers featured the toys being carried or chased but really, if these two dogs were just going to carry a toy around they could play with pillows.

I therefore had limited hopes when I  heard other dog people singing the praises of the long lasting antler chews -- naturally shed antlers from deer and elk, sometimes even moose, that go on and on and on. Or at least last a month. Nothing that gets regular use around here tends to last a month.



After much skepticism that caused me to pause at spending the rather pricier amount demanded for antler chews, I finally decided to give them a go. At the same time I ordered some antler chews I also ordered some beef shank bones - denser then cow hip joints (which all the girls love) I thought they might be worth a try. I am now going to report our preliminary findings.

Our first order consisted of "large" sized antlers which are marketed at large dogs and heavy chewers.


I've included my reading glasses in the photo so you have an idea of what "large" means in this context. The supplier I purchased these from sent good quality (not old, porous antlers that splinter.) After one week we're finding rather mixed results. On the one hand, you can see that two of the antlers are showing little wear. Take this with a grain of salt. The antler on the right was "lost" for the week, Gracie having buried it in the couch cushions and I having just rediscovered it yesterday evening. The antler on the left is already missing the end. And the third antler...because we always begin with at least three of everything here...the third antler has been completely eaten. Tooth and Jaws took it from each other every chance they had - and they were not allowed unlimited access to these - and within one week had completely consumed it. They are now working on antler number two, which has already had a good portion of the end eaten off. For some reason, the largest remaining antler is not as desirable and will thus last the longest.



The shank bones, while appreciated, have not been as popular as the antlers, and only the ends have been eaten off them so far. Again, this has been with very limited access - in fact the chewed off ends of the shanks were accomplished in less than a few hours. We have not given up on antlers though. Antlers are a natural source of glucosamine and chondrotine - very good for dog's hips and joints. So I'm ordering from a different supplier who has access to thicker, denser antlers. Density is key to having a longer lasting antler chew. I'll let you know how that works out for us.
I also have to note, I had a good chuckle the other night while reading a wide range of different marketing approaches made by people selling antlers. One web site contained the following advice, "Do not allow the dog to chew with their back teeth."
Brilliant.
One of the points of providing chews in this house is to allow me to work on this blog while the dogs entertain themselves. I can't imagine providing chews that need to be hand held so that I can constantly reprimand the dogs for trying to use their mouths the way they were designed to be used.

And now for something completely different.

Pictures from Readers
We're very lucky to have some new pictures which have been sent in by readers Cate, who lives in London, and Jess, who lives in New Zealand.

Stella, Bearded Collie
Cate lives with Stella - a girl whose beauty speaks for itself. Cate has done a wonderful job of finding green spaces in the city for Stella to enjoy.

Cate tells me that while she and Stella no longer live near the pond where the picture on the right was taken, she hopes to take Stella back to visit soon.
It seems that whenever Stella would find herself in this particular spot in the pond she could not contain herself and had to bark. Cate wonders if Stella would still bark...I wonder too :-)
I suspect Stella was just voicing her joy over having such a lovely swimming spot.


We also have some new pictures of Cookie the Bull Terrier - Jess captured some lovely action shots of Cookie playing with her friend Suzie. I enjoyed this 'action sequence' very much.


















Notice the fast foot work and tricky moves being made by both Suzie and Cookie. In the end, it looks like Suzie decided to go for the collar, a move which is always very popular in our house with Lil and Gracie. Each of these girls have been known to lead the other around the living room by the collar. Jenny prefers to watch from her spot on the sofa.

I also feel I should mention a point that reader Kathy has made to me in the past. Due to a very bad accident that happened to a dog she knows, Kathy takes collars off all dogs when they are wrestling - a dog she knows got his jaw stuck in the collar of another dog during a wrestling game and this resulted in an almost deadly outcome. Fortunately, the dog recovered. This is something to keep in mind though, particularly when dogs are playing in a secured area - removing collars is one more safety that we can provide. (I confess, I do tend to keep a collar on Grace at all times but that is a story for another day.)


And having mentioned Kathy, it seems appropriate to close with a picture of my favorite senior Beagle, who graces Kathy's home. Gilbert, you are a charming fellow!

And yea! Gilbert's younger brother Gus just sent us a new picture in which he looks oh-so-dashing! It is a must share.


I very much enjoy seeing and sharing reader photos, so please, if you have some pictures of the lovely canines from your life that you would like to share be sure to forward them to me at cmoslund@gmail.com
I thank you and your fellow readers thank you :-)



4 comments:

  1. Hi: Thanks for featuring my guys! Interesting piece - I guess since you supervise their consumption, you feel comfortable with them chewing on the antlers and bones. They make me nervous - once I see the dogs start chipping away, I take these things away - having had a deathly fear of dogs chewing chicken bones drummed into me as a kid, bones and dogs scare me. I do give them certain kinds of rawhides and I know my vet doesn't like that. So, we all take our risks.

    Man, I am in awe of Gracie and Lil's jaws. Ruby has pretty strong jaws but isn't that interested in chewing on toys. Gus dismantles some stuffed toys, but in general, he's never been very mouthy - he will chew on some nylabones and they don't dissappear - my vet's dogs chew up their nylabones - he takes them away when the ends get sharp. My GSD, on the other hand, was a world class chewer of everything.

    Kathy

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    1. Yes, we do all choose our risks :-) No rawhides here, the two chomping piggies eat that kind of thing so fast I would worry about an intestinal blockage. I was also raised to fear the chicken bone and remain rather paranoid about the kind of bones the girls do get. Cow joints, shoulder blades, and shanks are what they are limited to because these all grind down rather than splinter. A proper antler also grinds down as opposed to splintering. The exception would be old, very porous antlers, which I understand can splinter.

      I do have a friend who has started feeding raw chicken necks to her dog...I understand raw bones are safe but they make me nervous. I think we all have to live in our comfort zones. And the eating habits of dogs are different; Jenny could have access to bones that her sisters would never be allowed. Knowing our dog's individual habits and supervising them with whatever they chew are probably the most important guidelines. I'm sure Gus and Jenny could both spend a long time enjoying gently playing with toys that Lil and Gracie would demolish in ten minutes. Some dogs are just tougher on their environments than others.

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  2. I'm so glad to read such a thorough post about antlers. I have been curious about their appeal and safety for some time now - I think your dogs are the perfect testers. I'm also thrilled to learn that they are a source of glucosamine and chondrotine. I have 2 questions: 1) do you think they are safer than the shank bones (I find that small pieces/chunks often break off of these)? and 2) Are antlers baked like bones (or are they just left as is)?

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    1. Hi Wendy, thanks so much for taking time to comment!

      I do think that antlers are safer than shank bones as long as the antler is big enough for the dog who will be chewing it. For example, a small chunk of antler, or a thin antler can choke a big dog, or be broken off in a chunk that could be swallowed. Most people selling antlers suggest appropriate sizes according to the weight of the dog; with aggressive chewers like Gracie, I went a size larger.

      I think Gracie's head shape allows her to get bones and antlers securely into her back, densest teeth; this combined with her determined personality make her a very efficient chomping machine. I would always recommend going with a larger size antler when dealing with intense chewers like that. I also chose Elk antlers over Deer because Elk are larger/denser. The latest Elk antlers I've ordered are supposed to be even larger and denser and I'm hoping they will hold up longer while still being interesting to the dogs.

      What are some of your favorite chews for dogs Wendy?

      I'm curious about the Himalayan chews I've seen advertized - made with dried Yak's milk. I can't imagine them holding up to these girls over a day but I understand they are very good for average chewers. I'm always looking for new ideas to try so please let me know what works for you.

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