The Life Cycle of a Dog Toy
May 2, 2018 4:11 PM   Subscribe

This project began out of frustration. Every cute toy I brought home for my dogs ended in a mangled mess destined for the landfill. I decided to photograph the toys in their pristine shape, then again months later, observing this savage demolition with the scrutiny of an anthropologist. posted by Johnny Wallflower (24 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
h/t Room 641-A.

Dog toys previously.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:12 PM on May 2, 2018

One of my dogs, Richard, is a master of ripping toys apart. The only things he hasn't been able to cause noticeable damage to is one of the huge Kongs made for dogs much bigger than himself. Stuffed animals are gone in seconds, we bought a super tough kevlar toy and he strategically pulled all the stitching around the outside in under 15 minutes. Sometimes we'll give him a stuffed toy because he loves destroying them SO MUCH, but we know there will be a lot of cleanup inside of a minute or two.

I feel bad for his brother (literally, from another litter a year later), Henri, who has a much more delicate constitution and likes to take care of his toys. He'll carry around a stuffed toy for hours and keep it for a day or two, but the moment his brother gets ahold of it, it's gone. There is a rubber octopus that he loves deeply that Richard has chewed the tentacles off of but it's still intact enough that it's Henri's default toy. I'll feel terrible when it finally succumbs.
posted by mikesch at 4:31 PM on May 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

then again months later

Yeah those toys would last maybe ten minutes with the vallhunds. Like, not "a comparatively short while" ten minutes, but directly literal ten minutes.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:33 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Aaargh so many “Me at the beginning of 2017 / me at the end of 2017” or “you vs the one she told you not to worry about” possibilities!
posted by moonmilk at 5:05 PM on May 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Meanwhile Tribble will cherish beloved stuffed toys for, uh, years. There's an IKEA strawberry she's had for something like four years now and it looks about like it was when it was new.

Having grown up with Jack Russell Terriers, I find this level of softness of the mouth--she does not like to bite hard on anything--to be deeply perplexing. please dear god destroy a toy so I have an excuse to buy a cute dog toy now and then!
posted by sciatrix at 5:21 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Awww those Congressional dogs are very, very good, even the ones whose people are 😐.

When I lived in DC, it was so annoying to me that dogs were allowed in the Senate, but not in the offices of the pretty hippie-ish environmental nonprofit I worked for.

As for the dog toys, it kind of bums me out that my dog grew out of dog toys once he left puppyhood. He will still occasionally strip the fuzz off a tennis-type ball though.
posted by lunasol at 5:28 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

This project is charming and way more poignant and beautiful than I expected. How lovely that those dogs enjoyed their toys so thoroughly.
posted by flannel at 5:54 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm now imagining Congress as a place where dogs roam the hallways and senators sleep in their offices and everyone is cooking something. In other words, a weird place.
posted by mumimor at 6:03 PM on May 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

My hound not only eviscerates toys, she actually eats them. In two or three minutes she'll tear a tennis ball into quarter-size pieces and ingest them. Most things pass but we've already had one surgery to remove a toy from her stomach (my vet threw in a free gastropexy, while he was in there). It sucks because we can't use soft toys or even go to the dog park where there may be a stray tennis ball.
posted by workerant at 7:42 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

My coonhound is alternately completely uninterested in toys and way TOO interested in them. He too has had a tennis ball removal surgery (with bonus free gastropexy!). He leaves his toys laying around the house ignored for days on end and then suddenly goes on a tear and rips one to shreds. I can't get him interested in the perfectly nice indestructible rubber balls that we have at home, but I have to scan the dog park like a crazy person to remove tennis balls when he goes there to play. In conclusion, Tracker is a land of contrasts.
posted by fancypants at 8:08 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

After pulling a string from a stuffed squirrel out of my very distressed dog's hind end, I vowed I would only buy her the kind of chew toys that are nearly indestructible and meant to pass safely. It's a bummer because those toys are expensive and not very cute, but I never want to do that again.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 8:36 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well done.
Sometimes you just have to let them go. I keep stitching up the favorite ones till they're unrecognizable.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:51 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

My pup is more interested in hoarding his toys than playing with them. Every few months I go under the bed and the sofa into the dog's secret caves, and pull out thousands of dog toys that I had forgotten I'd ever bought.
posted by moonmilk at 9:45 PM on May 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

My Wirehaired Pointing Griffon also destroys every single toy within hours, if not minutes. All except this sole survivor. Not only has he not managed to kill it but he still loves to play with it.
posted by zeoslap at 12:01 AM on May 3, 2018

Do workerant and fancypants share a dog? Or just similar dogs, experiences and vets?
posted by poxandplague at 12:49 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love Lahti's writing too. From her website:
To a dog, a ball is not just a ball. That shiny, slobbery plaything is an opportunity, a challenge, a steadfast companion. In my dog photography I strive to glimpse life on their level—A bowl of food is love and comfort. A warm bath is the ultimate back rub. A knock at the door is a chance to prove courage and loyalty. Therein capturing the reality of modern dog ownership—a reminder to enjoy the small things.
It is remarkable, I think, that dogs are so dedicated and efficient at destroying the toys they love. I was pretty much the same as a kid, come to think of it.
posted by rongorongo at 12:58 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Love it!! This reminds me of the always-entertaining Pinterest fails.

My dog Taco removes toy squeakers with surgical precision, then loses interest pretty quick. The other dogs will still play with them though so it's not a complete loss.
posted by Fig at 3:21 AM on May 3, 2018

Our border collie loves his toys and does't destroy them, in contrast to the previous incumbent (a Lakeland terrier) who would destroy anything in about five seconds flat.

Squeaky toys are his absolute favo(u)rite, though, and he'll play with them for ages. I had to warn the new neighbours when they moved in, because he does like to take a squeaky toy into the garden and do some proper wolf-style howling while frantically squeaking it. I have videos somewhere of this. Oh, and he has a different 'song' for each toy, too.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 3:45 AM on May 3, 2018 [7 favorites]

Every month or so, we'd take out lab Millie into the Goodwill to choose a stuffed toy and wow do I ever miss my dog right now.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:59 AM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

My doggo, while she is the best girl, has never understood toys. When we adopted her from the rescue, we bought a ton of toys for her, expecting her to play. She literally has no idea what to do with them and has left the two remaining ones (just in case) in a corner of the dining room for 5 years. Thankfully, she doesn't chew anything else (chickens, shoes, pillows, mascara) either, but it took some getting used to for the humans.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:37 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

My mom gave our dog Didi a stuffed monkey for Christmas. It was reinforced for dogs who like to destroy stuffed toys. It was completely limbless inside of 5 minutes. I stopped buying her these after the second time she chewed a hole in the neck seam and dug the squeaker out of its head. Once we figured out she goes after the squeakers, we bought her a set of tiny pigs that you can stuff into a pig pen, but because the pigs have limbs and ears, they didn't last long. So I switched to the hedgehog version, and those last pretty much until they get lost under the furniture or in the backyard. Oddly enough, she also loves a bright pink stuffed Easter bunny I got from the DollarTree -- it still has both ears and all its limbs! And this is a dog who has eaten a drinking glass to no ill effect.
posted by natabat at 8:55 AM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

I had to warn the new neighbours when they moved in, because he does like to take a squeaky toy into the garden and do some proper wolf-style howling while frantically squeaking it. I have videos somewhere of this. Oh, and he has a different 'song' for each toy, too.

If I hit the favorite button on your post really hard, will these videos appear?
posted by the liquid oxygen at 10:25 AM on May 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:37 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

If we're showing off our dogs, this is Millie with some non-stuffed-toy Goodwill purchases.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:59 PM on May 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

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