Friday, 9 April 2010

A whole new ball game

Dear old Hamish never really got the hang of toys. I can only imagine that they were in short supply on the farm where he spent the first three and a half years of his life. In the early days, I tried him out with a few different bouncy, fluffy, chewy or squeaky things, but, unless real food was involved, he took no interest whatsoever. Even before his vintage years, there wasn't much sign of him being in touch with his inner puppy.

Judging by what I saw when I dropped by Granddach Kennels last Sunday, I suspect things will be different with little Bertie.  Not yet seven weeks old and already it was game on for an attempt at demolishing a blue and orange plastic creature of indeterminate species.

So it seems that I shall shortly be in the market for some playthings for the wee fellow. I wonder what he would enjoy most? This is new territory for me. Perhaps some of my friends have useful experience they would like to share.....

On a different note altogether (and those not of a scientific bent are advised to stop reading here......), I spotted this in the journal Nature this week:

Bit of an eyesight test I know. What's it all about?

Did you ever wonder how it is that, let's say Mango and Twinkytinydog can belong to the same species? We have to admit that there is quite a difference between a mastiff (just how much is it that you weigh, my Relentlessly Huge friend?) and a teeny weeny little chihuahua. Yet dogs all seem to get along quite happily together. Humans are SO boringly uniform by comparison. And think how much fuss some people make about a small difference in an insignificant trait like, say, skin colour.

Well, a group of scientists have been looking into the genetic variations between lots of different dog breeds, and wolves, to try to understand the whole subject better. Where did the genetic 'toolkit' come from, that enabled breeders to create dogs with such a radically different appearance over such a relatively short time span (mostly between 1830-1900)? The researchers did lots and lots of analysis of different aspects of dogs' genomes came up with a sort of a family tree showing genetic relationships between different dog breeds.

Well it doesn't seem so surprising that, for example terriers fall neatly into one group and, say, spaniels into another, as you can see on the chart. The phenotype (that's science speak for how a dog looks) is by and large reflected by the genotype.

More interesting is the fact that the original source of much of the genetic diversity, seems to have been the grey wolves of the Middle East (not wolves from East Asia, as earlier studies suggested). Which left me wondering if modern day wolves in the Middle East exhibit the occasional floppy ear or particularly fluffy coat?

As ever with science, more research is needed....

PS Things will be quiet on the blogging front next week as I have family matters to attend to. Bertie arrives on 19th April. Then the fun really starts. Don't worry, you'll be hearing all about it!


The Rocky Creek Scotties said...

I think I have always just accepted dogs as they are - whatever breed they are and never really thought too much about the genetics. It's strange what our minds just take for granted.

As for dog toys - terriers will destroy just about anything so make sure what you get for Bertie seem to be about 3 sizes bigger than you think you will need. I have the best luck with the rope toys - they like them and they are sturdy - can go through repeated launderings too. Scotties have such huge mouths you would be amazed to see the large bones I have for my 8 week old puppies! And what they can destroy.

Best of luck and have fun.

MISTAYA said...

That is a interesting post. And of course the pup pics are wonderful. It is going to be so much fun watching this little wondergrow up on you blog. And a toy?? our Mistaya loves to chase squeaky balls then chew them herself to make them squeak. I buy her lot's of chew sticks at the pet store so we have not had any trouble with her chewing on furniture, rugs, shoes,or us!, ect. See you when you return to blogland! Gail...the other Aberdeen one!!

Benny and Lily said...

Hmmm wonder if Hamish had the right idea about only wanting food. BOL We can't wait tosee what Bertie will say about all this.
Benny & Lily

Stella said...

All you have to do is remember Bertie's little toofies are going to be like needles for a good while and be sure he has some tough chewers on hand (on foot?) or it will be your shoes!

Cheers and looking forward to the young Nipper's arrival.

Stella and Jo

Jake of Florida said...

Our experience: early on, when Jakey was a puppy, most stuffies (soft toys with stuffing)lasted anywhere from ten seconds to five minutes. My expensive Gucci sunglasses sitting on the coffee table were skinned in a flash.

We had a cloth red dog that he loved. Then we had red dog 2, red dog 3, and would have had red dog 4 but the store stopped carrying red dogs.

Some manufacturers are now making stuffies with no stuffing -- just squeakers. Our guys now like those -- but of course they are no longer puppies

Soft toys that squeak are what our guys have loved the best. Early on they were demolished before we could turn around; now they seem to last.

Our guys are not ball lovers like some dogs -- but they do like the soft toys they can catch in their mouths and play games with.

Be careful where the toys are made -- some from Asia have toxic paint or unpleasant latex or rubber.

There are tougher toys -- but the Boyz didn't seem to enjoy them as much as those they could demolish!!

Wirey woofs,

Joan and Jake and Just Harry

Is there a reference to the picture of canine species?

scotsmad said...

We dogs are definitely superior beings.

As for toys, Bella ignored all the expensive toys and went for shoes, books, and anything wooden. However, she will play with the rope toy.

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

ScrapsofMe said...

Nylabone makes an excellent soft puppy bone for teething. It breaks off in tiny little nylon bits that pass through the innards easily as opposed to a rawhide chew which can get lodged in the middles somewhere unpleasant and expensive. Both Nylabone and Kong make a selection of tennis balls with or without squeakies. Fun for chasing. Kong makes a nice puppy 'snowman' shaped toy that you can fill with something (like peanut butter) or they make 'puppy stuffies' that fit inside. We broke those in 2 parts so we could completely mash it down inside. Provided lots of chew time. They also have a roll about ball you can put kibble in that dispenses kibbie one at time when the puppy bats it about. Or throws it with their mouth. Stuffies are fun, but when they are babies they might destroy them very quickly and swallow bits. Bonnie swallowed part of a cheap rubber chicken toy and it was touch n go for a bit. I recommend Kong and Nylabone for their sturdiness and play factor. Those knotted rope toys are good too for tug of war. Watch for squeaky toys where the squeaker is easy to get at as they will chew it off immediately and swallow it. Squeakers that are hidden are better. It's good to 'own' the toys and bring them out at play time and then gather them back up except for one chew toy. When you find him chewing on something he shouldn't take it away and give him one of HIS chew toys. Don't give him an old shoe as he won't be able to tell good shoes from the one he is supposed ot have. Same thing with socks. When Puffy was a puppy, the kids liked to play tug with thier socks. We didn't have a decent sock in the house for years and he would try to pull them off if you were walking around in your socks.
There is a line of stuffies called LOOFA dogs. Looks like long skinny doggies with several squeakers in them. They held up to Bonnie with the flashy jaws of death and we still have the original 3.

I can't wait to see more photos of Bertie!

Pam - Head of Bonnies purchasing department

Jazzi said...

Yah us terriers have good chewers. For me, Mom went with the big rawhide bones so that she wouldnt loose any shoes. She only lost one sandal and one cell phone charger cord. Stuffies and squeakies last about 10 min and I really liked the rope thingys they are fun to do tug or war with. I do remember a ball being put into a sock with a big knot in it, that was fun too.
CAnt wait to see Berti and watch him grow up.


Angus said...

April 19th and Berties arrival is in the diary. Buying toys is simple - all of them last between 30 seconds and 30 minutes and are hugely expensive. Having said that there's a great pet store near Valvonnas in Edinburgh that sells a great selection of US pet toys made out of hard duty canvas. Wilf and Digby have been determinedly trying to destroy them, and although well perforated, they've lasted for years.

Eric said...

Bertie must be crossing the days off the calendar and packing his cases by now! Wooohooo!!! How exciting!

The toy thingy, can see you got loads of good advice. The Kong range were and still are a hit with me. A good idea to put a stuffed kong in the freezer and give to Bertie when it's frozen to keep him busy and soothe those hurting gums! The Kong throw stick and rings were a hit too. Those soft fleecy raggers and toss rings are fun and I love any and all interactive treat balls and games. Those tough toys,forget it, no fun at all.I won't even touch them.

When you have a moment before Bertie arrives could you send me your snail mail please? Ta.

BTW. The dogs chart looked really interesting.. and how much does RH weigh I wonder...

Wiry wags Eric xxx

Mango said...

The RH weighs 230 pounds, thank you very much.

April 19th will be here before you know it. That little Bertie looks like a fun loving pup. I'm expecting plenty of action.


Jake of Florida said...

I forgot to mention the kongs -- I agree they are lots of fun. I used to get a bit of peanut butter in one as a bed time snack or an in-crate diversion while I was learning my manners.

I never cottoned to nylabones -- and those really tough toys, while they do last forever, weren't among my favorites either -- but we;re all different!

You wll need to be careful in the beginning -- and plan a toy hospital for those that wind up mutilated but not totally expired.

Wirey woofs,

Jake of Florida

Scruffy, Lacie and Stanley's Place said...

Oh my...the Holy Terriers vote for their favorite toys...

Scruffy...squeaky tennis there anything else???

Stanny...big ropes, big stuffies...Scruffy takes my toys

Lacie...little delicate stuffies...or anything that Scruffy steals off of Stan, I steal of him...

We all adore toys...

Teach him to fetch a ball when he's a little puppers...they adore them!!!


Scruffy, Lacie and Stanny

Butchy, Ruby, Sylvester, Scuby, Hootie said...

Oh boy, Bertie arrives 2 days after Katie arrives home with us, weeee! Mama said to get the softer nylabones, soft plush squeaky toys, but always supervise since puppies usually find the squeakers. We're trying kong things with Katie, never tried them before. Mama also buys the stick rawhides, about 5 inches long and skinny. Snickers loved to just chomp on those. When she was very little, she really didn't eat any of the rawhide, just chewed on them. Big heavy toys were not a hit. Like others have stated, beware of plastic toys that chew apart easily, or lots of paint on toys. Some toys smell awful when taken out of the plastic package, lay them outdoors in the sun to air out for a few days. This also lets some of the chemical smells disappear. Never let your pup chew on shoes, socks, etc. that you normally wear. They begin to think they are their toys.
Wirey Hugs, Purrz & Licks,
Butchy, Ruby, Sylvester, Scuby & Hootie

Asta said...

I'm so excited about little Bewtie's awwival. he looks like a pawfect little wiwe bundle and game fow PLAY! YEAH!!!!
I love squeeckies if they'we stuffies I teaw them apawt immediately so had to be watched when a baby to make suwe I wouldn't swallow the stuffing..luckily, I just spit it out I nevew get makes me sick and my dogtow said it could be dangewoos, but I mostly love my squeecky cuz to chase and fetch..Mommi says, when I was a baby she would put a knot in a towel and make it wet and stick it in the fweezew then give it to soofed my gummies and new teefs.
I think you got gweat advices fwom lots of fwiends, so i'll quit now
smoochie kisses
pee ess Doggies awe cleawly smawtew than hoomans.
I noticed that thewe awe no wiwe fox tewwiews on that chawt, hmmmmmm

Martha and Bailey said...

Our Harry couldn't be doing with toys but when Bailey arrived she was toy mad!
She will play with anything - Martha is now also very playful but it took her some time.
They both love their stuffies but of course being a puppy Bertie will need something that he can chew.
Well apart from your furniture, shoes etc etc.

Eric said...

Two days to go! Wohhoo!!1 Super dooper excited for you. Imagine this weekend will be spent at every available pet shop! I agree with all the advice from Asta - Mom did me the knotted cloth in the freezer trick, no rawhide ever, nasty stuff, of course all the soft furry squeekies. But boy oh boy my fave..those little cuz balls!!

Wiry love Eric xxx

Bella the Westie said...

What a gorgeous puppy :)
I hope you will share many happy times with Bertie.

Best wishes to you.

Love, Bella.