Things started devolving a few days ago, when I was busy watching my almost-2-year-old dog Boone chase a herding ball around my two-acre property. I had also been throwing Woody’s favorite ball with a Chuck-It, but the almost-8-year-old dog was panting hard, so I told him to take a break and left him laying in the damp grass with his ball. I bought a variety of herding balls to review a couple months ago, and Boone has developed some amazing skills at chasing his favorite – the 10-inch Virtually Indestructible Ball made by ht-pet.com.
It’s fun to watch Boone as he races all over the property, pushing the ball uphill, downhill, into the ditch that bisects our property (and turns into a tiny stream when it rains hard), out of the ditch, under bushes, and WHAM! – into fences, which he loves because he can chase it even faster as it rolls along a long fence line. He is getting fit and lean from all this exercise, and clearly has a blast doing it.
Finally, Boone rolled to a stop, panting, and plopped down on the ground near me, taking his own break. I turned around to see if Woody was ready for a few more throws and, to my dismay, realized that, while resting, he had chomped and chewed his favorite ball nearly to the point of no return.
Woody’s all-time favorite ball is the Orbee-Tuff Squeak Ball made by Planet Dog. It has all the features he likes in a ball: It’s made of a particularly bouncy material, but it’s hollow and fairly light-weight – but heavy enough to fly far when checked with a Chuckit! Ball Launcher. It floats, so we can play fetch at the lake. And it has a squeaker inside! – not one that can be chewed and removed, but molded as an integral part inside the ball. The ball will squeak when bounced hard on the ground, or when chomped between Woody’s mighty jaws – at least for the first month or two that he works on the ball. He likes to chew them like bubblegum as he returns from fetching, and if you let him wander away from you with one in his mouth, he’ll chew and chew and chew. (And rest with his lip draped over the ball, to maintain possession. And sometimes, he will even fall asleep with one in his mouth.)
Eventually, with enough unsupervised chewing, the squeaker will stop squeaking, and with even more unsupervised chewing, Woody can eventually cause the ball to crack. Then it’s a matter of minutes before he chews it into pieces. This process, complete with my somewhat distracted management, usually takes four to six months before I need to buy another one. There is ONE store in a nearby town that sometimes carries these, and when they have them in stock, I buy a couple. But I’ve also ordered many times from Amazon or Chewy.
Obviously, I try not to leave the ball laying around for Woody to chew. He doesn’t swallow the pieces, though if he did, that would (of course) be my main concern. Since he doesn’t swallow them, the sheer cost is my main problem to date. Replacing them even just two or three times a year adds up! I’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on renewing our supply of these balls over Woody’s lifetime (Otto chewed up a few of these, too). And now, because of my inattention, I need to order one or two more.
So imagine my horror when I tried to add a couple to my next Chewy order and discovered they have none in stock.
I switched to Amazon – and the only ones they show as available are coming from a supplier in the United Kingdom, and are twice the cost that I usually pay. Ack!!
I went to the manufacturer’s website – and neither the blue nor the orange version of the ball is shown. I think it’s been discontinued!
A year or two ago, I noticed that the balls I bought didn’t smell or feel exactly the same as they always had. The maker, Planet Dog, had been purchased by another dog-toy maker, Outward Hound, and it seemed like the mold or the rubbery material used was slightly different, but only I noticed this; the change didn’t seem to bother Woody at all.
Given that even after the company’s sale, I was able to find the ball (and other favorite Planet Dog toys, like the Snoop, I went through the maker’s website again more slowly. Now I see that they are selling a pink ball with the same name – but what if the material is not the same? It might not have the chewy mouth-feel that Woody enjoys so much, and the bounce and flying ability that I love so much! I’ve ordered a couple – and Amazon shows that it will take a month to arrive! Noooo! I’ve also called a pet supply store in a nearby town (where I’ve bought the ball several times in the past) to see if they have any of the old balls still in stock. As I write this, I am waiting for a call back! If they have some, I am going to race over and buy every one they have!
Have one of your dog’s favorite toys or chews or other items even been discontinued? How did you cope? Did you find a replacement?