Kali absolutely loves her Kong toy. Or does she?
Dogs do seem to love the Kong toy but mostly I think they love the food stuff we put in the Kong. Kali gets so excited when she sees me take her Kong out of her toy box. She dances with delight and anticipation of what is usually a mix of apples, carrots, and maybe a couple of biscuits all smothered with doggie peanut butter. She watches me prepare the Kong and drools like a Pavlovian Pit Bull. When I finally hand her the Kong she gingerly takes it from my hand with eyes darting to and fro looking for the ideal spot to enjoy the tightly packed feast.
She usually picks the mat in the kitchen or the foot of the stairs to begin her work. If I’ve moved upstairs to my office she may join me after a while to show me her handy work and finish the job. Sometimes I’ll put her outside to enjoy the treat in order to avoid saliva and peanut butter getting on the carpet. I don’t think she really cares where she eats so long as she gets to!
I have to admit I feel a little guilty at times watching Kali feverishly exercise her tongue trying to get out the treats. Is it heaven for her or a cruel reminder that she lacks opposable thumbs? It’s not often that we don’t get our daily walk in but there are times when I’m too busy and instead Kali gets the Kong. This seems a bit like a parent plopping their toddler in front of the TV with a DVD instead of engaging them in stimulating play-time. Maybe it’s just me over thinking things….
Here is what Kong says about their product:
- Keeps dogs occupied and mentally stimulated for hours
- Requires skill and persistence to get to the treats
- The unpredictable bounce has been known to cause spontaneous eruptions of playtime fun
Seems reasonable. It does keep Kali occupied for about 30 minutes (but not hours) or longer depending on how sinister I felt when packing the treats in. Her persistence is quite remarkable and I’m convinced that even without a skillful tongue Kali would never leave a morsel uneaten even if it was packed inside with glue instead of peanut butter. As for the spontaneous eruption of playtime fun, well that’s just not Kali. She is very predictable and not very spontaneous – a lot like me I guess.
So to ease my guilt I turned to the source of all wisdom and truth: the internet. A quick Google search on Kong Toy returned about 24,800,000 results (in 0.75 seconds!). I passed over the sponsored ads and clicked on “How to Stuff a KONG Toy | ASPCA” and here is what the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says about the Kong:
Why Give Your Dog a KONG (according to the ASPCA)?
“Nature made dogs to hunt, forage, scavenge and work for their food—not have it delivered for free in a bowl! One reason dogs develop behavior problems is sheer boredom, resulting from a lack of physical exercise, problem solving and outdoor exploration and investigation. To make your dog’s life more enjoyable, you can give to fun “work” to do when he’s home alone or when you can’t play with him. Food puzzle toys give dogs a chance to work for their food. “
(By the way, if you don’t already have an inkling of how to stuff a Kong Toy then maybe….)
So the statement by the ASPCA did help me a bit but I still wondered if Kali really enjoys quality time with her Kong. So I turned to the expert on Kali which of course is Kali herself.
Me: Kali do you like hunting, foraging, and scavenging for food.
Kali: Woof! Translation: Dad, for all you know as a stray I may have spent the better part of my life hunting, foraging, and scavenging for food. What do you think?
Me: Oh, well I guess that makes sense. How insensitive of me. Ok then, how do you feel about work? Do you like working for your food? It’s more like play really, so you know “fun” work.
Kali: Woof (with a slight growl on the end). Translation: I’m not an Australian Cattle Dog. I’m a Golden Retriever. I’m part of the Sporting Group of dogs. I’m intelligent, friendly, and devoted. Do you see anything about work in there? Place my food in my bowl as I have trained you please and I will remain forever friendly and devoted.
So after my “scientific” research, soul-searching, and guilt-laden conclusion that I’m somehow responsible for Kali’s lack of opposable thumbs will I continue to give her a treat filled Kong toy?
Of course I will! She absolutely loves it!