Have You Seen This Ball?

I am so very grouchy today. I have been overdoing on every level: physical, cognitive, emotional, and I’m paying the price.

I’m on day two of a migraine I can’t seem to shake, day and night, which is not doing wonders for my sleep. Barnum has hair in his ears from the haircut we gave him yesterday, and I have been trying to decide whether (and what) to use as a non-commercial ear flush, since all the commercial ones are scented. He hates having anything in his ears, so that will be fun, if I decide to do it.

I’m also having writer’s block — which I never have — on a story that I’ve been given an extension on by the editor. So, I really feel indebted to her that I have to finish it. Yet, it is floundering, and I fear that whatever I send her will not even be something she can use. And I’m still struggling to finish my post for the ADBC.

Of course, there’s also the never-ending pchair saga. I haven’t made progress on my letter of demand because my brain has been too occupied with other things, or I’ve been too sick (from overdoing). Meanwhile, Betsy and I have been making Herculean efforts to get my old Jet running again, and that’s been a bumpy ride, which has not made for happiness on the home-front, either.

Still, there is progress there, at least.A very nice guy from my town came over today to help me figure out why we can’t get the Jet working, even though we had the batteries installed correctly, and they are new. It took a lot of detective work, but we have figured out there is a wiring issue with one of the wheel motors. It’s not safe to use yet, since it could die at any moment, but at least now I can charge it and use it around the house to keep the batteries in shape.

Barnum was a complete flake when my neighbor was here working on the chair with me: getting in the way, stealing treats, totally couldn’t figure out how to do “go to mat,” and then when he did, couldn’t maintain it. His zen was abysmal, particularly in the realm of crotch sniffing — which he only does with strange men, which makes it hard to practice! — and is not an appealing habit for a service dog! Augh! There are always 8 million additional skills he needs “work” on!

Lest I go into a complete spiral of despair and frustration, let me remind myself of skills he really knows and is reliable on:

  • Shutting doors. (He actually went and shut a closet door while my neighbor was here, and he’s only ever had one session on that door before, of only two or three repetitions. I was impressed.)
  • Shutting drawers.
  • Shutting cabinets.
  • Brace. I had to get up and down from the floor several times, and he really is rock-solid on this one. It really helps. I have to start calling him over more for help with that when I just need a moment of balance at other times, too.
  • Stand.

That’s it! AUGH! He still does not even have sit and down under stimulus control! He confuses them, gets nervous, cues off of environmental or body cues, etc.

So, here’s a new problem: Barnum’s favorite ball is dead. It was the only toy he would play with anymore, so this is a problem. Play is important.

Many years ago, Deb, my neighbor, gave Jersey and Gadget each a ball for Hanukkah. Jersey never had any interest in hers. Gadget wasn’t interested in his except for water retrieve, which became very useful as part of him helping me to swim.

We had a blue one and a green one. The blue one died eventually (a Lab chomped it to death during a play date), but the green one was Barnum’s most, most, most favorite toy. It’s a good size for his mouth (bigger than a tennis ball, about the size of a large naval orange or a small grapefruit), and soft enough to squeeze but still tough enough to have lasted. Most importantly, it squeals incredibly loudly. Or, it used to. That’s what he loved so much about it. It had a very loud, high- and multi-pitched, piercing squeal. If you didn’t know what it was when  you first heard it, you might be concerned that a small animal or baby was being killed, but Barnum’s Mr. Prey drive, so he loved that.

This was not an ordinary squeaker, at all. The squeaker was part of the ball, part of the construction, and “squeaker” is really a misnomer. It was a squealer.

Another important factor was that even when these balls got tooth holes in them, they still squeaked (although, if  you used them at the beach, they became waterlogged). Apparently, however, they are not made to withstand being accidentally run over by a powerchair.

Now, Barnum will run and pick the ball up, attempt to squeak it, and then drop it in disappointment. It’s a very sad sight to behold.

Thus, I am asking you, my internet dog community: Have You Seen This Ball?

Green plastic ball with blue, orange, and pink slightly raised designs on it. The designs are five-pointed stars or "suns" -- rough-shaped circles with little lines around them like rays. This ball is scuffed up quite a bit.

The Best Dog Toy in the World

I haven’t seen them in any dog catalog I have. I’m really hoping I can replace it. If I can find several, I will buy them all!

Please, if you see this ball anywhere — online, in a catalog, at a pet supply store, at a garage sale — buy it and send it to me! I will reimburse you! Or tell me about it so I can buy it.

Just imagine Barnum quoting Shalom Aleichem, “So, if you had a bad week, why should I suffer?” Poor dog wants his ball.

– Sharon (fully trained grouch), Gadget  (sorely missed on days like these), and Barnum, SDiT and bored pup

22 Responses to “Have You Seen This Ball?”

  1. 1 brilliantmindbrokenbody July 31, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Well, I don’t know that ball, but I DO have a suggestion on the earcleaning front. Acetic acid, aka vinegar. You can use any variety of vinegar, though I think my preference would be a distilled white because of purity. You dilute it (with distilled water, preferably) to 2%. I don’t know about other brands, but Heinz’s white vinegar comes at 5%, so I think the mix should be 2 parts vinegar 3 parts water.

    Dilute acetic acid is one of the 3 or so active ingredients you see on commercial ear washes (Typically they have one, though sometimes you see acetic acid combined with boric acid).

    Best of luck with your writer’s block, your pchair, and teaching Barnum other skills. Remember, he really is still quite young, so it’s not surprising that he’s still got a relatively high level of distractability. I saw a noticible difference in Hudson between 2 years and 2.5 years, and you know Barnum’s line matures a little late.


  2. 2 brilliantmindbrokenbody July 31, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Oh, also – you’re the founder of the ADBC. Even if you don’t get your link to me by the time I finish putting together this Carnival, I’ll put it up when you get it to me. I’m hoping to have the carnival up Tues evening.

  3. 3 Giselle August 1, 2011 at 12:50 am

    alcohol free witch hazel.

    I KNOW I’ve seen this ball!!! tried Google Image search, but not having much luck. (FF add-on)

    Its one of those ”crunchy’ dog toy companies, like Planet Dog.

  4. 4 Sharon Wachsler August 1, 2011 at 1:17 am

    We have now tried witch hazel and HP and he’s still shaking his head. I’m going to have to take him to the vet. Where he will get all smelly. Ugh.

    No, I’m pretty sure it’s not Planet Dog or any of the “environmental” companies, because it’s at least 10 years old (maybe older), and when I first got it, it was smelly. It’s probably some nasty toxic plastic, but he loves it sooo much!

    Actually, if anyone knows of a super loud, squealing ball, I would definitely be interested. It may be I can’t find this one again, but maybe there is something comparable?

    I didn’t know about google image searches. Hmm! Something to learn about. The power of google is never-ending.

  5. 5 Sharon Wachsler August 1, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Thanks, Kali. I really appreciate this. I doubt I will get it done by Tuesday, especially since I cannot shake this migraine! I still have it! whine, whine, whine.

    The post is important to me, so it’s taking forever because I want it to be good. It’s called The Rural Difference. Thank you for being willing to put it in late.

    Good reminder that Barnum is still young. Without realizing it, I expect him to be at the level Gadget was at at this age, but Gadget really was exceptional. Also, I’m doing way more foundation work with Barnum, and there is only so much he can learn (or I can teach) at once, so hopefully in the end, the skills, though slower to come, will be more solid. Karyn also reminded me he might be going through a “plateau” (reorganizing and storing information in long-term memory). This is an age when there is a lot of up and down.

  6. 6 L^2 August 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    That ball looks familiar to me too, but I don’t think I’ve seen any like it in a long time. I tried to search a few places that seem to carry every dog toy imaginable, but no luck. 😦
    If you can’t find one of those though, the Cuz (a ball with feet) and other durable rubber squeaky toys by JW Pet squeal REALLY loud. Jack loves them for that exact reason.

  7. 7 Sharon Wachsler August 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I think I looked at those and they are scented with vanilla or something. Do you know? Is yours scented?


    Sharon Wachsler (and Barnum, SDiT) https://aftergadget.wordpress.com Video: Level 4 Retrieve – http://wp.me/pKDSg-11U

  8. 8 L^2 August 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Really? I’ve never noticed “vanilla scented” included in the description for JW Pet toys anywhere that I’ve bought them online. Jack has a bunch of them and none of his smell like vanilla at all. They do smell slightly like rubber to me though – not strong like Kong’s rubber toys do, but it is faintly detectable.

  9. 9 Courtenay August 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    I have a JW Frog that is archie’s favouritest ever. It smelled a bit rubbery when we first got it, but after lying around outside and inside for about 6 months or so now, it’s very faint (I have no personal experience with anyone with MCS, though, so take that with all the salt you’ve got!).
    I do love the JW products for their toughness and squeakyness. My trainer’s dog chewed a foot off a standard Cuz toy and swallowed it. Blockage and surgery 😦 But the “Other Cuz” version doesn’t have feet, and many of the animal types don’t. I think they also make a round ball.
    If you know he has hair in his ears, it’s probably safe to wait a bit to see if it comes out on his own. If there’s concern he may have an infection or something, though, the vet is the best choice. Feel free to email me privately if you want to discuss further.
    Courtenay, RAHT (aka CVT in some states)

  10. 10 Sharon Wachsler August 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    OK, I am going to look up the JW toys in my catalog where I’m pretty sure it indicates something like “a pleasant vanilla scent.” Also, I did buy a ball from him by JW — it’s an “empty” rubber ball with no interior, sort of like if you took a bunch of soccer-ball squares and connected them and removed the inside and all the squares but the seams connecting them. Anyway, it was scented — scent-infused rubber — when I got it, and we could only use it outdoors. And I always had to wash my hands playing with it. After about a year, I’m pleased and surprised to say that it has outgassed. This was NOT the case with the “Busy Buddy” toys, which are horrendously scented (rubber is infused with fragrance) and which, after two years outdoors, still REEKED. I think there is a Waspish Wednesday post about scenting dog toys coming on!

    Good advice about the ears, thank you! I forgot you were a vet tech. We flushed them out a couple more times after the initial time, and every day he shook his head less, and now he is not bothered at all, so we didn’t have to go to the vet. Yay!

  11. 11 Courtenay August 3, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    The busy buddy toys ARE scented, and I keep reminding Premier they should change this. I’ll be sure to link your waspish post to their facebook page! Thankfully, I’m not sensitive to them, as they keep my dogs sane! But even the DOGS don’t like them initially due to the stink!
    I know the toy you mean, the Holee-Roller. I had one, but West shredded it. I expect if I still have the pieces, it’s old enough now it doesn’t stink. I wonder if it’s helpful if I sent you my frog, and bought archie a new one? I wouldn’t mind doing this.. let me know.

  12. 12 Sharon Wachsler August 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Courtenay, thank you SO MUCH for complaining to Premier about that! (I didn’t know they were made by Premier, but now that you say that, I realize they are the purple color of a lot of other Premier products.) It’s ridiculous. Maybe there is the rare exceptional dog who likes the scent of perfume (Jersey did), but most dogs don’t, and it’s really not good for them, either. And if it’s for the owners, well, really, if you can’t stand the smell of dog saliva, you probably shouldn’t have a dog!

    Yes, the Holee-Roller! That’s it. I’d forgotten the name. I’m pretty sure Karyn got one and also said hers was scented, but I might be confused.

    I hadn’t been interested in the Cuz toys cuz (ha ha) of the scent thing (will look that up) and also because unless it’s a plush toy he can demolish, he really likes balls. He’s a little soccer player — he noses them and bats them and pounces on him, so it has to be something that rolls.

  13. 13 Courtenay August 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    The frog rolls..this is the one I have:
    and these are similar product, same company, ball version
    but I don’t actually have any of those.
    I do have this one:
    but it’s Gypsy’s, so I don’t play with it much (Gypsy is my mum’s dog).

    I don’t know about the smell issue, but Chuck-it makes some decently tough (medium tough, I’d say) balls of various sorts.. not sure if one squeaks or not though.

  14. 14 Courtenay August 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Oh Jeez, sorry for the ugly advert links! I didn’t know it would do that.

  15. 15 Sharon Wachsler August 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    That’s OK. I couldn’t tell when I approved the post, either. But now I know what they look like!

  16. 16 Sharon Wachsler August 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    FYI, about ear drops, here is Virtua Vet’s answer to my question:
    Dear Sharon,
    I didn’t get to your post over the weekend. You can use all-natural witch hazel. You shouldn’t use hydrogen peroxide because 1) it can severely irritate or damage the eardrum and 2) it is water based and does not cut through the ear wax anyway. If ears are super waxy, in the US, there’s a product at the store called Debrox ceruminolytic for babies (I don’t think it’s scented.) If you are wiping around the opening of the ear (which is all you should be doing without a tympanum exam), mineral oil works well. (You can get a brand that does not scent it.)
    Hope Barnum is feeling better and this post is irrelevent!

  17. 17 Sharon Wachsler August 5, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Please note sentence second from the last.

    From the Care-a-Lot Pet Supply catalog, in the JW toys section:

    Tough by Nature Dog Toys

    Made with 100% quality natural rubber. The fun and amusing shapes and bright vivid colors add visual interest for your pet. The tough solid rubber adds durability for the largest dogs. Available in a range of sizes. . . . These long-lasting toys are infused with vanilla. Assorted colors, please let us choose.”

  18. 18 Courtenay August 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I was sniffing my holee roller, and it certainly does smell when i have it at my face (1cm away?). Any further and i can’t smell it, but that doesn’t mean its not still stinking, obviously. Thanks for the reminder to go sniff the frog 😉

  19. 19 Courtenay August 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Sorry, I don’t know how to edit. Wanted to add, it smells NOTHING like vanilla to me, but what do I know? Just like stinky rubber.

  20. 20 Sharon Wachsler August 5, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    It didn’t smell like vanilla to me, either, and I’m really used to the horrible smell of infused pseudo-vanilla, because all of the doctors, hospitals, visiting nurses, and home draw programs switched to vanilla-scented (but latex-free) tourniquets for blood draws.

    However, it certainly was clear to me when I got the Holee-Roller that it was infused with fragrance. In fact, my PCAs, when they unpacked that shipment of dog stuff, warned me right off that something in there stank.

    Nothing, however, has been as vile as the Busy Buddy Twist n’ Treat and the Busy Buddy Waggle, which, after about 1.5 years of massive outdoor outgassing efforts, I actually called Care-a-Lot to complain that there had been no info to warn me that they were fragranced, that I’d never been able to use them or even be near them outdoors, and asked to return them. Since I am such a long-term loyal customer and never returned anything before, they agreed.

    I also asked them to please indicate in the catalog when products were scented so I could make informed decisions as a consumer. I stressed that I wanted the management of the company to know about this complaint and my request for better labeling. They didn’t used to have info about JW toys being scented. I don’t know if my comments made a difference. It would be nice to think they did, because that would give me some confidence in a campaign to sway dog toy producers to stop fragrancing them. I also notice that Care-a-Lot doesn’t sell the Busy Buddy toys anymore. My guess, however, is that that’s not related to my complaint, but more likely that they didn’t sell well, because Care-a-Lot tends to carry forever the things that are popular and rotate the things that are not.

  21. 21 Sharon Wachsler August 6, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I don’t think anyone’s ever thanked me before for reminding them to go sniff a frog! Hee hee hee hee.

  22. 22 Courtenay August 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

    So I sniffed the frog. I happened to have my ( 3 year old?) zogoflex Zisc, and compared the two. The frog is MUCH smellier (The zogoflex just smells like dirt and poo, depending what part I sniff!) but still no where near as strong as a purple toy. Same as the Holee, if it wasn’t almost touching or touching my face, I couldn’t really smell anything.

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