A Day in the Life of Nikki Kline: The Kong

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dog playing with the kongMost pet toys have a lot of flash to attract our attention, either squeakers, bright colors or lots of great stuffing that at some point will probably be shredded all over your floor. The Kong, however, is overall kinda plain, a hard rubber cone-shaped thing that is usually either red or black with 2 holes. Yet for me (meaning my sanity, not that I usually chew on one), it was one of the best toys ever invented.

As I’ve mentioned before, Freya was a loving, unruly and hyperactive hooligan when I got her, and needed basically constant amusement. I decided to give the Kong a shot and see if I could get just a bit of down time. So, initially, I used just the Kong treats and shoved them in it. Freya looked at it for a few minutes, licked the top and proceeded to be totally unimpressed. She, at that point, hadn’t realized the “fun” of a challenge to work things out of this magical piece of rubber. I then decided to make it easier and more appealing. I put tiny treats that easily fell out of the hole in it, and surrounded the top with a strip of peanut butter. This attracted her attention, and she, immediately, started licking out the peanut butter, rolling it and dropping it on the floor.

As she decided she liked it more and more, she also became much faster at dumping the treats out of the Kong, and I did not become faster at showering or watching TV. So we decided to up the ante a bit, and I started actually stuffing the Kong with “treats” from top to bottom, and making it a challenge to lick them out. This worked for a while but amazingly she still kept learning faster ways to extract the treats.

I decided it was time for some serious research! In doing this, I discovered there was almost a whole Kong culture, people have put everything in these, and they have whole websites dedicated strictly to Kong recipes. Please note, I’m not necessarily recommending trying all of them. (There were plenty that I referred to as either pancreatitis or diarrhea in Kong form, which isn’t fun for anyone.) But they had some great ideas, and I set off in the kitchen slicing bananas, chopping apples, swirling yogurt and dog food together and in general making the whole kitchen look like it exploded.

For quite some time, I had at least 4 Kongs in my freezer at all times, and she didn’t eat food out of a bowl for several months. We were both excited to see what kind of new and exciting recipe would be coming out of the freezer next.

She continued to become more creative in finding out new ways to wiggle the stuff free inside, and her newest plan was to stand at the top of the stairs and throw the Kong down them, leaving lovely bits and pieces of food everywhere, and finally having it crash into the front door usually creating a “jackpot”. Oddly enough, this was an ok price to pay to be able to shower, get the mail or watch TV without constant bouncing happening around me.

Nikki Kline, Veterinary Technician
French Creek Veterinary Hospital
www.frenchcreekvet.com

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