Max’s Perfect Toy

by John Delach

Max turned seven on September 9, 2017 He came to live with us on November 10, 2010. He and his sister, Ruby, came to us via truck from their birthplace in Missouri. The delivery service with the unlikely name of PetEx Express transported these sibling Golden Retrievers in one travel crate as part of a shipment of puppies going to various destinations on the East Coast. Fortunately, both Golden Retrievers arrived clean and in perfect health. Mary Ann and our daughter-in-law, Jodie, lifted both pups up to tell who was the boy and who was the girl.  The boy, already named, Max, stayed with Mary Ann and me and Ruby went to her new home in Connecticut, a birthday gift for Jodie.


In many ways Max was great from the moment he arrived. Housebroken from day one, he never cried during the night and took to his crate like it was his second home. He was so laid back that when one of us went down to open his crate in the morning, he went through a series of stretches before deciding to begin a new day.  Feeding was easy; Max was born with a food alarm clock. Since we fed him both breakfast and dinner every day, his breakfast gong rang as soon as he was up, and his dinner alarm went off between 4 and 4:30 PM. Max loved treats, any time and all the time.


…And now for the bad news, Max was hell on wheels as a pup. He was all teeth wasting anything in his path. Fortunately, he never took to furniture, but he did take to objects made of cloth or fabric. This boy could destroy a tee-shirt, jacket or towel in the blink of an eye, but he was a hard-wired natural retriever. No matter what he stole or destroyed, he insisted on displaying it in front of us, so we could see how well he retrieved stuff.


His behavior became serious when he decided that kids were playthings and separating them from their shirts, sweaters and jackets was his retriever mission. He favored kids wearing sweatshirts with hoods, so called, “hoodies.” Give Max a kid running with a hoodie and he was off. (He now weighed about 50 pounds and he was young, determined and fast.) He’d come up behind his designated play toy, time his leap and grab onto the hood dragging them down. “Gotcha!” Now he tried to retrieve them by dragging them where he thought they should go. The poor kid now on his or her back usually didn’t take kindly to his shenanigans nor did their parents.


Not good, not good at all!


We had a serious problem. In so many ways, Max was a great dog, but kid tackling was clearly unacceptable. We were proactive, trainers, shock collars and anything that seemed to work. We even hired teenagers to act the part of, “flopping children.” Under the supervision of a trainer who used a shock collar they allowed Max to attempt to retrieve them so that our trainer could electronically reel Max in when he went after them. Our grandchildren, dog lovers all, volunteered to play the part for a price with mixed results. Finally, a dog-whisperer type trainer advised, keep up the work and he’ll outgrow this and turn his attention elsewhere.


He did finally outgrow this awful behavior, but it took five years before we no longer had to be on guard ready to leash and remove him when flopping children came to his dog park. Max will always be nose and tooth sensitive. But we cater to his need with treats and toys. Treats are easy, he’s a food hound. Toys, not so easy. One problem solved, replaced by a new problem, toy destruction.


Remember, he’s all nose, all teeth; give Max a toy advertised as indestructible…life expectancy, ten minutes. Absolutely indestructible; 12 minutes and, absolutely, positively indestructible with a money back guarantee; 15 minutes. I kid you not. We have bought toys in stores, on line, garage sales, and charity sales. Old toys from grandkids, used athletic articles; tennis balls, baseballs, footballs, hockey pucks, whatever; ole Max made short shift of their existence. The only object that he cannot destroy is not really a toy. It is a rubber coated solid steel door stop we use in New Hampshire that he steals when all else fails. We call it, “Max’s indestructible toy,” and his teeth marks on the rubber surface attest to his endless battles with it for dominance.


Last Christmas, we finally found a toy that he absolutely loves called Outdoor Dog by All For Paws (AFP.) Simple but hardly indestructible, it is a canvas covered tube 11 inches long with a diameter of three inches. Inside is a large plastic squeaky bladder with approximately the same dimensions as the canvas cover. Max instantly took to this toy constantly carrying it around in his mouth. After about a week, he bit the canvas seam opening it and over the next few days, he carefully extracted the bladder. He loved this plastic tube even more than the original toy and proceeded to carry this bladder everywhere while at home squeaking it as he walked along. We expected he’d bite a hole into it in a few days, but weeks went by then months and he left it in tact. Finally, one fateful day, visitors came and in a frenzy, he destroyed it.


Off to Pet Land, I purchased another and he was thrilled when he heard the familiar sound it made. His squeaky had been resurrected! This one lasted longer as we hid it out of sight whenever we expected company, but eventually the plastic wore thin and succumbed to his teeth. Obviously, this toy had a finite lifetime. Sooner or later Max would bite too hard or it would just give out.


We ordered five more from Amazon and when this supply fell to three backups, we tried to order more only to discover that it had been discontinued. Since then we have tried many different sources without success. Desperately, I contacted All For Paws and I hope to hear from them as Max has been reduced to one working Squeaky but only one left in reserve.


Otherwise, we are doomed. So now let us pray that we find a solution.