Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cheapass Dog Fun: Non-Perishable Kong Stuffing

Every so often I get inspired and creative and stuff my Kongs and other food toys with sweet potatoes, bananas, applesauce, green beans, and canned dog food. I will inevitably regret this later when I find said Kong under the couch and full of mold a week later.

My dogs rarely empty a Kong completely, and we are all much happier when I accept this and stuff them accordingly. Sticking with non-perishable goodies means never finding a Kong full of green fur. If I stuff the toys in a very precise fashion, I might not even need to scrub peanut butter out of them after the dogs are done.

Peanut Butter is my standard stuffing, and each time I try something new I end up going back to it. The big jar lives in the refrigerator, but this stuff is shelf-stable. A peanut butter-stuffed Kong can spend months lost under the furniture and come back looking no worse for the wear. Peanut butter feels wet and sticky, but it actually has a very low moisture content, which prevents bacterial and fungal growth. The oil in it will eventually go rancid after a year or so, but it doesn't get gross hanging out inside a Kong under the couch for a few weeks. Heck, it could probably sit under there for a few months and still come out pretty much the same way it went in.

Brisbane and Ulysses cannot reach all the way to the bottom of a large or extra large Kong with their tongues. If I smear peanut butter all the way down to the bottom, I will have to scrub a solid plug of it out when they're done. For this reason, I usually start my Kong-stuffing with something dry and bulky to fill the space. A small scoop of kibble works, but I normally like to use something less dense. Broken up Cloud Star Buddy Biscuits and Zukes Skinny Bakes are currently my favorite things to cram in there.

Next I use a butter knife to spread peanut butter all the way around the inside walls of the Kong. A few more small biscuits help fill the space in the middle, and then I seal off the opening with more peanut butter. Sometimes I stick a biscuit in the opening for them to break off before they begin the unstuffing project.
This "How to Stuff a Kong Toy" diagram is all over the internet, and it always makes me laugh because it was clearly drawn by someone with no sense of perspective. Either this is a gargantuan XXL Kong, or those bone-shaped biscuits are tiny. Our Kongs are mostly size large, and I don't think I've seen any bone-shaped biscuits significantly smaller than the inner diameter of the toy.

I've also seen those "marrow bites" dog treats they show in the "dessert" layer, and a large Kong could fit maybe one or two in there. Definitely not five. Honestly, I think my dogs find kibble to be higher value than most biscuits, those things are pretty bland, so offering them as a dessert seems kind of silly. I also like the "tantalizer" placed in the small hole at the end, my dogs totally ignore anything in there. Maybe one of these days I'll try putting something really exciting in it to see if they notice. I'm thinking Limburger cheese or something equally stinky. They love stinky treats.

My dogs need no "appetizer" sticking out of their Kongs, they're really just in it for the peanut butter. I keep trying to find something less nutritionally dense to stick in there, but apparently nothing else is worth quite as much effort. I'm not going to argue.

I do occasionally leave Buddy Biscuits sticking out of the top of the Kongs before I freeze them, but it's for my benefit rather than theirs. I don't think the dogs care. I just like seeing those little guys waving like they suspect nothing.

So far, as long as I stick with the dry biscuits/peanut butter formula, I have yet to scrub anything Lovecraftian out of a Kong toy.

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