It’s Kong O’clock Somewhere

At best, it looks like a beehive toddler toy. At worst, it appears to be some bizarre contraption best kept hidden in the bedroom.

Introduced in the late 1970’s, the Kong is a toy (or as we professionals call it, “enrichment device”) that has nearly become a staple in dog-owning homes. The founder, Joe Markham, designed it after his canine companion finally found gnawing satisfaction with a rubber suspension part from a VW Bus.

The patented one-of-a-kind plastic is safe on teeth, yet strong enough to withstand determined chewers. Its hollow “snowman” design allows for treats to be stuffed inside, prolonging the challenge and fun for users. Is the cost worth it? Yes! Even rat fanciers and zookeepers appreciate its value. (See video links at bottom.) To find the perfect Kong “fit,” more on its history, and recipes, visit the official Kong website.

My Josie Junebug is an energetic young dog who spends her workdays in the kennel. In addition to her walks and indoor play sessions, her dinnertime Kong serves as great mental exercise. I fill it in the morning, when I’m packing lunches, and stow it in the freezer (for extra challenge). When the family congregates for dinner, her Kong keeps her too occupied to even consider begging at the table.

I invested in a second Kong so one can be rotated through the dishwasher each night while the other remains available for her enjoyment. (That is assuming she doesn’t hide it from me.) Even after it’s emptied of edible surprises, it still provides hours of squeaky chewing enjoyment.

How difficult is it to fill? My husband was clueless when I texted him a request to prep Josie Junebug’s Kong after I had forgotten one morning. How easy is it? He asked my seven year old for directions!

Step One: Plug the smaller bottom hole with peanut butter (non-chunky), or cream cheese. I invest in a separate doggie PB jar, so I don’t have to worry about double-dipping.

Step Two: Set Kong upright in a cup for filling convenience.

Step Three: Fill with something yummy and exciting. My basic “recipe” is kibble soaked in a bit of meat broth or dinner drippings, but feel free to allow your doggie chef creativity to run wild. The hippie in me abhors food waste, so I often use food scraps (yogurt, pizza crust, rice, etc). The daily Kong is an especially good use for “ugly produce,” those slightly wrinkly blueberries, bruised tomatoes, and old carrots that human family members scorn.

Step Four: Fill to top with water.

Step Five: Freeze until dinnertime

That’s it! That two minute investment in the morning buys dinnertime peace for us all.

Family, friends, co-workers, pets: I think it’s worth a little extra time to set each other up for success and harmonious living. Don’t you?

Obligatory notes about safety and other resources for Kong recipes:

Like diets for all species, do what works for you. If you feel it’s best for your dog to only eat store bought food (or perhaps he medically needs to do so), use a Kong stuffed with dog food and water.

If your dog is getting fat, cut back on calorie intake. You can feed dinner in the Kong as a way of slowing down eating and providing some amount of exercise.

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, of course, don’t go pouring bacon grease or some other craziness into a Kong.

Some human foods are toxic to pets. Chocolate is the most infamous; however, you should also not feed grapes/raisins or onion. Also, check labels. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, is toxic to pets and now also used in some peanut butters and yogurts! The ASPCA has a good starting list, or check the Pet Poison Helpline for a more exhaustive list.

Still, there is some solid evidence that veggies are good for dogs too: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/want-your-dog-to-live-to-30-add-this-to-their-bowl.html 

Here are other videos links where you can watch other species enjoying Kongs:

More Kong Recipes: http://www.k9instinct.com/blog/frozen-kong-dog-treat-recipes

Go to Fern Dog Training to download a nice Kong recipe book, and while you’re there, check out his informative and entertaining dogcasts.

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The Gift of a Renewed Habit

Reclaiming a healthy routine seemed impossible to do for myself, but when a beautiful brown-eyed girl entered our lives, it became effortless.

Before my daughter was born, I woke up 45 minutes earlier than I needed to every morning for the sake of self-development. I would be sure each day started with a positive thought of intention, read something spiritual or personally progressive, and end with a set of simple calisthenics. Every self-improvement guru will advise you to do this. So will this anal-retentive blog author.

Unfortunately, once the sleepless nights of motherdom hit seven and a half years ago, I fell out of this habit and never managed to restart it. As a matter of fact, the stresses of long-term joblessness in my household and the addition of a scrappy son have, for years, dunked me continuously under the waters of chaos. I can honestly say that the loss of this one clarifying habit has, for me, been the main contributor to a chronic sense of “not having a handle on things.”

predawn
Stepping into the predawn, starting the day with a breath of fresh air. (Thankfully, she doesn’t poop until later.)

This habit gently resurfaced in my life a couple of months ago, and it should be no surprise to the reader that I owe it to the adoption of Josie Junebug (Greatest dog in the world). You see, I felt guilty that, after spending all night in her crate (to insure she didn’t chew up the entire downstairs whilst we slept), she got only a short reprieve before returning to her crate while we were at work and school.

The Monday after Thanksgiving break, my alarm rang half an hour earlier than usual. What had seemed insurmountable for years suddenly just happened. Since that day, and every work day since, after showering and dressing, I liberate her from the evil crate (her sentiments, not mine) and am rewarded with grateful adoration displayed via entire rear-body wags.

Friedrich Nietzsche picture quotes - He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how. - Inspirational quotes
Reclaiming a healthy routine seemed impossible to do for myself, but when a beautiful brown-eyed girl entered our lives, it became effortless.

I drink my coffee while it’s hot, not having to set it aside to pour chocolate milk, or cut up an apple. In 15 minutes, I am able to read more of C.S. Lewis’s  Mere Christianity than I could accomplish in hours while wearing the Mommy Hat. I put away the clean dishes, accomplishing something before I even leave the house.

In the stillness of predawn, my dog and I peacefully step into the day together.

 

Leave a comment: What good habit has your pet (or loved one) inspired?