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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lovely Bones

Dogs love to chew. Particularly if you're a puppy

Though sometimes it's hard to tell what's on the Approved to Chew List.

Particularly if you're a puppy.

So, for the record, the following are Not on the Approved to Chew List:
  • Shoes
  • Underwear
  • Wires
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Furniture
  • Walls
  • Floors

(I swear at least one of my dogs has attempted to gnaw on everything on that list.)

On the Approved to Chew List:
  • Sticks
  • Dog food
  • Dog snacks
  • Bones
I know, it's a short list. But the last item--Bones--come in all shapes and sizes and types.  Each one is just a bit different, and you have to find just the right one for the moment. Kind of like picking out the best sugar cookie with the right amount--and color--of sprinkles. And, after a Bone has been around awhile, and chewed on by three dogs, it takes on its own particular qualities.

The favorites aren't necessarily the new ones. I think the best Bones are the ones that are somewhat broken in, so you can get a good Chew on, and really feel the crunch and grind on your teeth.

At least that's what I think the dogs tell me.

Taking a break from gnawing on a nicely broken-in Bone, Kelsey gives a very young Corinne a kiss.

I used to swear by Nylabones, those bone-shaped plasticky items you get in your average pet store. The dogs all like them, and there is a Great Deal of Excitement when I bring home some new ones. (Always three at a time, so there shouldn't be one that's Better than the others. But somehow it always turns out that one of the Other Dogs has The Best One, and much eyeing and stealing and exchanging of Bones ensues.)

Lilah and Tucker with Nylabones.

All my dogs have enjoyed Nylabones, and I still buy them. But I always felt funny about having my pups chew on plastic, so I was thrilled when I recently discovered antlers.

Turns out, the dogs were even more thrilled. Antlers are a big hit. They're strong, hard, made of good nutrients, fun to chew. The bonus? Deer and elk slough them off every year, and grow new ones. So nobody has to die for my dogs to have a good gnaw. For me, this is a Very Good Thing: Guiltless Bones.

I know; it looks like he's smokin' a pipe, but Tucker is really just about to chew on an antler.

In our  house, we keep our Bones in a Basket.

Basket 'o Bones

Now that I look at it, it does seem a tad creepy, that Basket o' Bones. Though it's not like the Bones actually stay in the basket. During the course of an average day, the basket is emptied one by one as the different Bones are gnawed.

Tucker chooses just the right Bone from the Basket. In this case, it's an elk antler, cut in half.

Lilah enjoys a good chew on a new elk antler. They're easier to enjoy when they're sawed in half.

Jasper's happiness is quite evident; there is something ever so satisfying about settling down with a well-chosen Bone.

Of course, chewing with your brother is fun, too.

Better yet, a companionable gnaw amongst the entire canine crew.

Tucker tends to bring his Bones with him when he wanders the house, and Lilah sometimes does it as well, so the Bones tend to travel. One walks barefoot in the dark at one's own risk in our house; stepping hard on a pointy, well-chewed Bone can be quite painful for a human.

As for the dogs, even though there is a Basket o' Bones in the family room, you might wind up in another room where there is only one or two and that means sometimes someone is Boneless.  That is a very sad situation indeed.

There are several ways to try to attain a Bone that is currently in someone else's paws. One way is to whine and look sad. Tucker and Jasper usually try to employ this method. Or you could always just try to take the Bone from the Other Dog. That usually ends up with some serious Discussion about who had the Bone first.

Lilah has the best strategy, though. She'll find something else to chew on or play with, and go prancing by the Other Dog (or Dogs) with the item in her mouth, wagging and happy. Neither boy can resist, and more often than not, the Bone is dropped, Lilah easily gives up her toy, and quickly grabs the Bone. She has employed this trick again and again, and Jasper and Tucker fall for it every time. They are so puzzled when they get the thing Lilah had, realize it wasn't as much fun as she made it out to be, and turn to go back to their Bone--and Lilah is chewing on it. How did that happen?

One Bone, two dogs. The calamity! Made ever so much worse by the fact that Lilah is actually leaning over Jasper's paw to gnaw on her Bone.

Even if you're not actively chewing on a Bone, sometimes it's nice to just have one around. You can lay on it, lick it, pounce it or just plain Have it. The best part about Having a Bone is that the Other Dogs Do Not Have it.
As Tucker demonstrates, one can never Have too many Bones.

And sometimes the sheer joy of Having a Bone makes you want to roll around and toss it into the air.

Tucker enjoys Having a Bone outside. Does it get any better?

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