24 July 2008

Rescue Toys for Rescue Dogs

I get some of my best (and craziest) ideas in the middle of the night when I'm having trouble sleeping. This is one of those ideas. Only time and you, my readers, will show whether this is just pain killers talking or actually one of those good ideas.

A friend of mine who rescues dogs kindly reminded me today of the realities of running a rescue. The fact is that the expenses of food and vet bills are so high that toys and other fun things for the dogs are really a low priority.

Now all us dog lovers out there know how much dogs love to play. Rescue dogs are no different and many need to learn to play before they can find the joy of it. So it's really sad that many rescue dogs don't have that much in the way of toys in the time between leaving their old home and finding a new one.

So while I was lying in bed, I was thinking that a lot of people out there spoil their dogs with lots of toys--more toys than they can play with. Sometimes you even buy a toy that your dog then has no interest in. My old dog Shadow that I had when I last lived with my parents was one of those dogs that often wasn't interested in the toys we tried to give her. She'd rather play with the cardboard roll from toilet paper, paper towels, wrapping paper, or whatever. So we did have a few toys that lay around collecting dust and never got the love and attention they deserved. A rescue dog could have benefited from Shadow's unwanted toys.

So what I'm suggesting is that we rescue any unwanted and unloved dog toys that we may have and donate them to our favorite rescues. I feel a little guilty suggesting this because Molly doesn't have that many toys (we've always been very careful about what we picked) and most of her failed toys have been destroyed. But I think the idea is worth sharing anyway.

So here's what you do:

  1. Go through your dog's toy box and dig out those toys that just didn't work out. The dog didn't get the idea or maybe has outgrown that particular toy. Or maybe you've changed breed or size of dog and have toys that just don't work for your current dog.
  2. Check the toys carefully for damage and dangerous parts. The rescue dogs won't mind a few tooth marks (did we care as really little kids if our toys were new new or just new to us? not usually--not until we got older and were influenced by fashion and stuff), but they need to be solid and safe. Rescues have enough vet bills as it is and don't need to end up paying to have pieces of toy removed from their dogs.
  3. Speaking of damaged toys: These days many dog toy manufacturers offer a guarantee that their toys will survive canine destruction and offer replacement of damaged toys. If you have one of those destroyed toys, you may not want the replacement for yourself because your dog would repeat the process. So instead of sending it in for a replacement for you, send it in but have the producer send the toy directly to your favorite rescue. There may be a dog there who could love it without destroying it!
  4. Take all the safe unloved toys and clean them thoroughly. A solution of half bleach and half water should be effective at killing any nasty germs. It might not work so well for stuffed toys though. I'm not sure how those should be cleaned.
  5. Contact your favorite rescue organization to see if they can use the toys. If they can't, find another that can.
Now I'm not suggesting that anyone go out and buy new toys to donate. It's a great thought, but the rescue would be better off with your money instead so they could use it on necessary vet care and dog food. My thought is really to just recycle those things our spoiled dogs don't love or want anymore.

You can also think about buying your dog's future toys and other things from places that support rescues. There are online stores out there that donate a portion of the proceeds of each purchase to a rescue. Shop at those places as much as you can so your dollars reserved for your own dog can also benefit rescue animals.

If you're reading this and can't think of a rescue, maybe you could donate to our favorite? We want to encourage support of Ruff Mutt Border Collie Rescue in Dallas, Texas. They have recently taken in three dogs that turned out to be heartworm positive, one of which requires extensive vet care because of wounds on its stomach. The adoption fees for the dogs won't even come near to covering the costs of their treatment. These wonderful BCs are likely to benefit from your unwanted toys and rescue donation dollars.

Please let me know what you think of the idea. If you like it, feel free to encourage it on your own sites and dog boards. I don't care what rescue organization you choose to support. All of them have the same goal--helping dogs find happier lives.

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