Originally Published: October 8, 2018 9:27 p.m.
My dogs remind me every evening after dinner that dessert comes encased in a Kong. Kongs are magical. They provide a limited amount of entertainment, depending on how quickly the guys are able to remove the contents. They also provide a fun diversion and stimulation.
A Kong is formed of hard rubber with a hollow core that has a small opening at one end and a larger opening at the other. The larger hole is provided to insert wonderful treats and tasty tidbits.
If you are not familiar with Kongs, ask to see one at a pet store. They come in several sizes and colors. There is a size for all, including the very small guys. The color designates the strength and resistance to destruction. Large jaws require a larger and tougher Kong.
It is fun while at the various stores we visit on a regular basis to find some wonderful new treasures that are sized to fit into these magical shapes. It is quite easy to keep these stuffers reasonably healthy. Baby carrots cut in pieces are great -- but not too many. Regular small dog biscuits can be broken in half and inserted. Many stores have a terrific variety of healthy and nourishing treats that can be easily stuffed into the Kong.
But you also can mix shredded carrots and cooked oatmeal combined with things such as yogurt, peanut butter, cottage cheese and creamed cheese to make the removal task a bit more challenging.
You can be sure that the pups will be watching eagerly as you insert the treasures. But before that, they will inform you of the proper time at which the Kong should be filled and provided to them for their night time entertainment.
Providing great stimulation, they do help to keep a pup busy for a while. You can stuff them with anything yummy. But particularly if your dog is left alone, the Kong is a great treat to give him when leaving for the day or a while. If your dog must spend some time in a crate, the Kong is a great stress reliever. And also, the Kong can help a dog adjust to the crate. It is a relaxer.
My daughter-in-law stuffs a number of Kongs for her guys with bananas, yogurt and other great things and keeps them in the freezer. Each pup gets a “popsicle” when the family leaves in the morning.
Also while traveling, and when spending the night in an unfamiliar place, having his own blanket and his Kong can be pretty relaxing.
The Kong website offers recipes for birthdays and other special events. It also offers training tips to use with the Kongs.
The Kongs do get kind of yucky after a while with all the slobber. Stick them in the dishwasher, large opening facing downward toward the water flow. But it is not a bad idea to rinse them out regularly.
If you are not already a Kong enthusiast, give it a try. Your dogs will love it, and they will love you for your efforts.
A small correction: I must apologize. In my column last week, I was talking about purebred dogs and the AKC show that was here recently. I talked about various judging at dog shows and, I guess because my brain had been so filled with talk of the “confirmation” hearings — that I mistakenly spelled the “conformation” ring as the “confirmation” event. Dogs in conformation are judged on their meeting the breed standards. This is very important in a breeding program. I certainly apologize for my error.
Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at email@example.com.