Thursday, July 27, 2017

GoughNuts - And a "Tail" of the Search for an Indestructible Dog Toy

Barkley was the killer of toys supreme, and finding a durable dog toy for him was always a challenge. His Mr. Squeeky, a big rubber ball with feet was the only toy that survived and now sits on the box that holds his ashes, but I still searched for a dog boy that couldn't be "deaded" in about 15 minutes after we got Abby the Rescue Lab. She's a Lab "Mix" and given how well she did with her first chew toys I'm thinking "Part Black Lab - Part Wolverine".  She's great with stuffed animals and carries them around like puppies but any ball, bone or such is usally split in half within the day.

So I was very happy to hear about the 

 in todays post from my friends

and went out and ordered one!  Awesome! (our wonderful friends at also carries them but if you order from GoughNuts directly there is a larger selection and they have a store locator on their site as well).

Amy Rockwood and her team of polymer and mechanical engineers at GoughNuts know that in the design of a great chew toy fun and safety go hand in hand.  Each toy has within it a red center so that if there is ever even a small compromise of the toy, you get a patent pending visual indicator "red means stop!".  If that happens they will replace the toy, but they hold up amazingly well, even ones used daily by active K9 Officers like Officer Glenn Graves and his K9 partner Kai from the Modesto Police Department.

With that, while I take a quick lunch break, for my newer readers, a chapter from my first book - The Book of Barkley - about the quest for the unstoppable dog toy.  

CHAPTER 11 – Soldiers In Your Cup

Ow!  Ow!  Ow!

It was six o'clock in the morning and I had just gotten up to brew a pot of coffee when I stubbed my toe on yet another hard rubber dog toy.

Where did that come from?

When I went to bed, Barkley was lying on the middle landing on the stairs, where the sun warms the carpet up before dark and from which he can survey the front door. His toys were all down the hall in my office where he hangs out with me in the evening when I’m on the computer.

But apparently during the night, he brought his toys into my bedroom, additional reinforcements perhaps for the protection of “Mom.”

His toys had evolved since he was a puppy.  When he was little he had a big goofy looking squeaky spider and a plush elephant that he carried around in his mouth constantly, never chewing on them, just toting them around and even sleeping with them. Somewhere in the growing process, however, he decided toys were better chewed on than used as play toys.

Soft or thin rubber toys were de-squeaked within minutes of presentation, the happiest minutes of his life by his own accord.  I would hear “squeak squeak squeak” to the point I was contemplating grabbing hearing protection from my range bag, then suddenly, silence.  I’d look over at him sitting there with the squeaky device lying on the carpet surrounded by tufts of stuffing and shredded fabric. Given what some of the fancier toys cost and how quickly he destroyed them, I figured even Congress could not spend money like that, in such a time frame.

I could occasionally find a super cheap stuffed animal on sale for a buck that I would give him, knowing it would be destroyed.  I even found on sale a high quality stuffed duck that also squeaked (likely due to the duck having a pneumothorax). I thought with the sturdier materials it might at least last a few days. But it also only lasted a few minutes, and I was growing concerned that he might accidentally swallow parts of the toys, even if he never tried to.  Future toys were going to be tooth proof.

It's tough for me to remember he's a dog, not able to understand "that would not be smart to eat.”  For I grew up in a generation that still had toys that heated up, could blow up, or leave scars.

Think about it, why can’t you get the kids a good old Sonic Blaster anymore? Nothing like a toy that perforates the eardrums the old fashioned way, they used to say. Blame it on the Cold War or the TV show The Man from UNCLE, but in the last part of the sixties, when I was small, we had some of the best toys. They would be considered by some to be dangerous, life threatening toys but they put the BOOM in baby boomer. The sonic blaster was one of the best, a pump-action gun that fired a big column of air toward distant enemies of the state. Sit in a room full of middle aged men and say "Sonic Blaster" and I guarantee at least three guys will smile and go "FOOOOMMM! We took out spies, treacherous piles of leaves and that stack of trash that was hiding a spy or a rabid squirrel.

And people now worry about burning their hands on the EZ Bake Oven.

Most of our favorite toys were not unlike Barkley’s here. They were inexpensive, simple and fueled by imagination, not batteries or computer components.

As children, we’d wait patiently with the dog for that first break in the weather, that first slice of spring sun bursting from the sky, opening cold fissures in the landscape. Snow had been fun, but we were tired of the very bitter cold in the last days of winter; stampeding flurries that swirled around the family home with all of the order and elegance of a hockey game, keeping even the hardiest kid indoors.

Summers were anticipated glory. We'd be out after breakfast and play all day, with kids gathered up from around the area, a posse of potential. We'd drink from the hose if we got thirsty and ripped more than one pair of knees out of a pair of jeans, which our mothers would patch, not replace. We offered up skinned knees as homage to the ancient gods of play, exposed our faces to the sun, gaining confidence in our movements, in ourselves, breathing deeply, nourishing ourselves on the scent of grass and the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Our play burst out of something within our own minds, shouting forth as we charged the next hill with a bag of plastic soldiers in tow, darting past "throwing grenade guy" with "bazooka guy" to take a spot of land.  To us, with the agile minds of children, it was all real. We scurried between small valleys and miniature cliffs. An empty Styrofoam cup with the end cut out with our pocket knife became a tunnel; a scoop of dirt became a foxhole. Overhead was a peaceful bowl of a summer sky, below, the happy shouts of children calling forth from smoky battlefield fires that only we could see. The sound of the barrage was both remote and near, our childlike voices providing the sound effects, a vibration in the earth sensed with our minds, rather than felt, as our battalions moved onward, taking more ground.

We advanced until we reached the neighbor's yard, a pristine landscape where the war had not reached, where there would be no quarter given, where soldiers were not to pass and disobedience would be death. Mess with the neighbor’s flowerbed, and the troops would be put to rest, the commanding forces grounded. No cookies either, the ultimate punishment.

Such were the days of my childhood. We were immortal; the clouds rushing by faster than our troops could advance. Glorious days. Only darkness or the sound of the dinner bell would bring us in, dirty and hungry and aching to be outside again, and then curled up in sleep with our dog there beside us.

So I understood Barkley and his quest for the perfect toy.  But I will have to make sure he gets one that will not harm him.

The “Kong” type toys were a good find, indestructible hard rubber in which you could hide a treat. But though Dad’s dog loved hers, Barkley wasn’t all that interested in his, unless you inserted an entire steak in the middle.  His favorite toys were the yellow tennis ball and material covered bones and balls, especially the one with a cord on it that you could wind up and throw. 

Still, I missed the look of pure excitement on his face when he heard the first “SQUEEEEK!" of a toy.

A friend of mine had just opened a store that had both a bakery of pet treats and pet gifts and one of the product lines were these “indestructible” dog toys.  They were a thick material, heavily corded with thick stitching, allegedly resistant to even the toughest of teeth, guaranteed.  Made with bright colors and shaped like an assortment of small animals, they were tempting.  They were also pretty expensive. But I got him the biggest and toughest one, Larry the Lobster and presented it to him, thinking that I had purses that cost less than that.

Larry lasted much longer than other toys.  Approximately fifteen minutes longer.  I removed the remains in the bucket and took it back to the store, as it did say “guaranteed.”

The girl working that day was not my friend, but a new employee.  She looked at my receipt and the remains and said, “you don’t get a refund if you put it through a wood chipper.”

“I didn’t,” I said. “My black lab did this” and showed her a picture of the carnage.  She looked doubtful, so I waited to show it to my friend later, who got a good laugh out of it.

I got my refund, and the quest for the indestructible squeaky toy would resume.

(c) The Book of Barkley - Love and Life Through the Eyes of a Labrador Retriever Outskirts Press 2014


  1. Sounds like it might be tuff enuf for Abby!

  2. A good dog toy is hard to find and a treasure when you do find it! Barkley should have been an official tester before the word "indestructible" went on the package!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

    Pee Ess - We thought of your mom yesterday cuz a plane crashed on the freeway.

  3. I LOVE my GoughNuts!!! I have two doughnut style ones and two of the sticks! I can destroy even the black super-tough KONGS and every other "virtually indestructible" toy we've tried -- but not my GoughNuts! And I play HARD with them! They're awesome!!! The company should pay me for these endorsements.
    Yours sincerely,
    Margaret "Jaws of Steel" Thatcher

  4. We saw those gough nuts too - Misty may just have to get Mom's plastic card and head over to that shop to buy some for herself. She is quite the chewer too.

    Woos - Lightning and Misty

  5. that sounds interesting!!! maybe that is even a weim-toy? we just ordered the kong safestix... not sure what mischief phenny will do with a 70cm long toy...

  6. There is no such thing as an indestructible doggie toy in my house! Oh, and ghostwriter remembers those days when kids could climb trees without a notarized waver, run up and down the street with a cap gun in hand, and drink hose water with disdain. Those were the good old days!

  7. Thanks for telling us about Gough Nuts toys. We are always on the lookout for dog toys that will last longer than 5 minutes too!
    And thanks for the laugh about children's toys. We survived yard darts, pogo sticks and those clacker balls on a string...haha!


Welcome to The Book of Barkley and the Blogville dog blogging community. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on Abby the Senior rescue Lab, who we adopted in 2014.

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