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Grriggles Chirping Chums Dog Toy

grrigglesTomorrow, it will be exactly 6 months to the day that we lost our blind dog toy tester extraordinaire, Sadie. We still miss her, even though we have a new dog to love. We think of her every day and feel so blessed to have had her in our lives.

Even though we don’t have an “official tester” anymore, I still want to provide a resource for owners of blind dogs. That includes finding and posting about toys that I feel would be good for blind dogs. I recently ran across Grriggles. Grriggles are plush toys shaped like birds that have sound chips embedded in them and crinkly material in the wings. The sound chip makes chirping sounds which should stimulate your dog’s sense of hearing and hunting instincts. Once they pick the toy up, the crinklies in the wings should keep them interested in chewing and playing with the toy.

Our Sadie loved toys like this though they, unfortunately, didn’t last long with her. She was a tough chewer and could de-stuff toys like this in a few minutes.

Grriggles are 10″ long and therefore more suited for medium to large dogs. I was unable to find any smaller versions.

If you buy this toy for your blind dog, please leave us some feedback as to how your dog liked it.

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Sadie Enjoying Sunshine After Beating Cancer - Aug 2010

Yesterday, October 4th, we had to say goodbye to our beloved baby dog, Sadie, suddenly and unexpectedly. She was 9, as far as we can tell, because she was a shelter rescue. I’m not sure that we rescued her. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was the other way around. We’re heartbroken and we feel so very cheated, especially because she was such a fighter ’til the end. She didn’t deserve this. I will eventually finish this post with memories of the good times and stories of our struggles, all of which she endured with tail wagging, but right now I’m too depressed to do much of anything. Going forward, I won’t be posting any more toy reviews simply because Sadie’s no longer around to product test for us. If any of you would like to send reviews of your toys your blind dog enjoys, I’ll gladly post them for the benefit of other blind dog owners. I will probably continue to post information I think will be of benefit to the blind dog community, as well as our own personal experiences with our wonderfully sweet baby dog.

We love you so much, Sadie, and miss you more than words can ever express.

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On our trip to Petco today to pick up some more dog food, we ran across the Sprong Hexagon dog toy and decided to give it a try. The pup has been a little lethargic lately and we thought a new toy just might pep her up. We figured the Sprong would make a good toy for blind dogs because it’s squeaky and the surface is soft and velvety which would be excellent for retaining smells.

Our dog took to the new toy instantly. She loves squeaky toys (and de-squeaking them). One of the nice things about this toy is that when it bounces, it does make a slight squeak, so it can be tracked by sound. We were planning on putting the toy in a plastic bag with some of her treats so it would absorb the smell, making it easier for her to track by smell. Well, after about an hour of play, she can already track the toy by smell. That’s both good and bad. Yes, she can smell it, but it’s also rather soggy and disgusting. She loves it though, and that’s the best part.

She did manage to de-squeak it. The little plastic squeaky part came out of the hole. However, my husband put it back in and it squeaked again. The look our dog gave him was priceless. She couldn’t believe it. “Papa, you can work magic!” It was adorable. So, she’s back to squeaking and flinging some more and we’re having to watch to make sure she doesn’t take it outside.

Here are some pics of the pooch in action. The pup agrees, Sprong Hexagon makes an excellent blind dog toy! She has played with it so much her first night with it, she has tired herself out. Look at that happy face!

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KONG Squeezz Ball Dog Toy

Kong Squeezz Ball

Well, it finally happened. We found a toy that has knocked the Pet Qwerks Animals Sounds Babble Ball off the pedestal as favorite toy for our dog. On our last trip to PetCo, we picked up the Kong Squeezz Ball on impulse as we neared the checkout. Our dog is a strong chewer, so Kong is one of the few brands of dog toys that holds up to her chewing.

Our dog really enjoys the texture and chewiness of the Kong Squeezz Ball. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), she was able to de-squeak it (we’re not sure how) in a few minutes. It now only swishes out air instead of squeaks when you squeeze it. Fortunately, that in no way diminishes the fun she has with it. She has taken the ball upstairs, tried to sneak it outside, and has gone on searches for it, whining for help if she can’t find it. We’ve offered her the Babble Ball, thinking that’s what she was looking for, but no, she wants her Kong Squeezz Ball. She still plays with her Babble Ball, but she really enjoys the chewiness of the new ball. It really stands up to her tough chewing.

Our dog does need a little supervision on occasion while playing with this ball, due to the fact she de-squeaked it. It’s harder to track when it doesn’t make as much sound upon bouncing, though the raised surfaces do cause it to make noise upon rolling on hard surfaces. Still, she does pretty well all by herself and only needs help once in a while. I’m glad we picked this up. It has plenty of playtime value for the price.

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I know this site is specifically about toys for blind dogs, but I would also like for it to be a resource to those who have blind dogs and need advice and information on how to cope. One of the best resources I’ve come across and have found highly recommended by vets (including our dog’s ophthalmologist) and dog owners alike is Living With Blind Dogs: A Resource and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low-Vision Dogs by Caroline Levine. It is one of the few books on the topic and one of the best.

The topics covered in this book include:

  • How to cope with your dog’s blindness
  • Diseases that cause blindness in dogs
  • Genetics and blindness
  • How dogs react to blindness
  • Behavioral changes and pack issues
  • Training and teaching new skills a blind dog will need
  • How to help your dog navigate the house, yard, and community
  • Devices to protect your dog
  • Playtime
  • Dealing with dogs blind from birth or both blind and deaf.

Probably the most important things we got from Living With Blind Dogs was the information on how our dog would react to her blindness, how to help her navigate (one method is with scent markers, which we’ll be reviewing soon), and playtime. I think we took our dog’s blindness harder than she did, though she did experience a period of stress and depression for a few months. Caroline explains how dogs react in her book and she was spot on with her assessment. Our dog followed the familiar patterns Caroline explained and our dog ultimately ended up adjusting quicker than we did. It was a difficult time for all of us, but I’m happy to say that things are as “back to normal” as they can be and we have a happy, well adjusted dog.

For a while, our dog navigated expertly and we wondered if she didn’t have some eyesight left. However, we’re sure she’s completely blind now, as she does run into walls and bounce off obstacles (earning her the nickname “Pinball Pup”), especially if she’s excited and eager to get where she’s wanting to go. We’ve learned through Living With Blind Dogs to leave clues for her to help her navigate, like specific textures on the floor or scents on the door frames, steps, or other obstacles.

Our dog has always been incredibly playful, so it was imperative that we help her find a way to continue doing what she loves. Caroline’s book gives great advice on toys and games that will keep your blind dog happily occupied and fulfilled. I’ve shared several of those types of blind dog toys in reviews on this blog, but you don’t need toys to help your dog play. One of our dog’s favorite games (because it involves food) is a variation of the game Caroline calls “Follow the Food Trail”, in which you lay down a trail of treats for your dog to find and follow. Since our dog has a bit of a weight problem due to her SARDS, we have modified the game a little bit and “hide” one treat at a time in a room for her to find. Usually, the treat is in plain sight to us, but it sometimes takes her a while to find it, especially if she’s so excited about getting the treat that she has a hard time focusing on actually finding it.

If there’s one book you get as a resource to help you with your blind dog, Living With Blind Dogs should be it. It will reassure you that blind dogs can live a happy and fulfilling life and will give you the knowledge and tools to help your dog do just that.

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I was a little hesitant to try the Pet Qwerks Animal Sounds Babble ball for our dog. Before she went blind, she was not very fond of inanimate objects that suddenly made sounds. I went ahead and purchased the toy anyway to see how our dog would react. I’m glad I did. She absolutely LOVES it. She was a little taken aback at first and didn’t know quite what to make of it, but after a few minutes she started picking it up and flinging it around, chasing it, and barking up a storm. She was able to track and find the ball great, as long as it was making sounds. Once the sound stopped, which only happens if the ball is at rest for several seconds, she did need a little help.

I completely expected this toy to be a total flop, but it is a complete hit with our dog. Two nights in a row she’s tuckered herself out playing with the animal sounds babble ball, which is good because she could use the extra exercise due to weight issues brought on by S.A.R.D.S.

As mentioned in previous reviews, our dog is an avid chewer and loves to tear her toys apart. The babble ball is made of hard plastic and the medium size is perfect for her. She can pick the ball up, but she can’t tear it apart.

A word of warning with this toy, it is noisy. That’s the whole point of it being a great toy for blind dogs, but after about 15 minutes of constant animal sounds, it can get on your nerves. For us, however, it’s worth dealing with because our dog loves it and seeing her play, despite her being blind, makes us happy. As I finish up this review, our dog has finished her short rest from her play session and is back to playing with her babble ball again… in the dark. :)

Note: Some of the reviews on Amazon mention that the battery cannot be changed once it runs out. However, this information seems to be wrong because there appears to be a compartment that holds the battery that you can open with a screwdriver.

Update: Nearly a week later, this is ALL she’ll play with. She loves it to death and will play with it until she’s exhausted. She’s even been sneaking downstairs, while we’re asleep, to play with it.

Here is a short video of our girl playing with the Pet Qwerks Animal Sounds Babble Ball.


Pet Qwerks Animal Sounds Babble Ball
$8.50
$9.99

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Our dog loves her JW Pet Cuz dog toy, which we have come to name “green guy”. She previously had an orange one that lasted her for years, which, as you may have guessed, was called “orange guy”. It is by far one of her favorite dog toys. She loves the fact that it squeaks and it bounces at odd angles, so it’s much more of a challenge for her to follow and find. So, when I ran across the JW Pet Cuz Hol-ee at PetCo, I HAD to get it for her. I’m glad I did because she loves it even more than her regular Cuz dog toy. The outside of the toy is rubber, while the inside has a plush insert containing a squeaker. It’s almost impossible for her to get to the squeaker, so I’m confident this toy won’t be de-squeaked and should last a long time, provided we make sure she doesn’t sneak it outside. (Orange Guy eventually ended up an unfortunate victim of the lawnmower.) She loves the plush insert and will sit and chew the toy, in addition to flinging it around the room and chasing it. When she wants to play, she now favors the JW Pet Cuz Hol-ee over her regular JW Pet Cuz toy and I think it’s the plush insert that makes the difference. I’ve noticed an increase in her play time since we’ve gotten the toy, so if you’re looking for something to get your blind dog playing again, this might be the toy.

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For Christmas this year, we got our dog the JW Pet Good Cuz Rubber dog toy. Our dog had one of these that she played with before she went blind, but judging from her reaction to it, it’s a perfect toy for blind dogs, too. We had also gotten her a Jolly Pet Vanilla Scented Squirrel as well, but the toy proved too big for her to take in her mouth. It would be perfect for larger dogs (90+ pounds). She went crazy over the scent though, so we will continue our search for a smaller scented toy.

As for the Cuz rubber dog toy, she loved it. It’s made of durable rubber, which is great since she’s a big chewer. It’s also a squeak toy, so it’s a great toy for blind dogs to play interactively with his or her owners. Our dog, however, has a great nose and loves to play with it by herself. She can track it down by scent, even though it doesn’t have any extra added scent. (I suspect being packaged with two other vanilla scented toys, it may have picked up some scent.)

The JW Pet Cuz rubber dog toy comes in many different sizes, colors, and variations. There’s the good cuz, which is just a ball with feet. Then, there’s the bad cuz that is basically the good cuz, but with two little horns on top. There is also the Other Cuz variation that has eyes and is also available in good cuz and bad cuz variations. We ordered the medium for our dog and should be good for dogs from 50 to 90 pounds.

JW Pet Good Cuz Dog Toy
$1.79
$4.99
$7.49

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I recently ran across this clip from the tv show “It’s Me or the Dog” that discusses how to greet a blind dog. The information in this clip is spot on. You can startle a blind dog very easily if they are unaware how close you are. I have done this on numerous occasions with my own dog by touching her when she was unaware I had approached. Usually, her keen sense of hearing picks up the smallest sounds, but sometimes she isn’t as alert as she normally is (near snoozing or preoccupied by something else) and touching her then can shock her. You should always make some sort of sound when approaching a blind dog or when the blind dog approaches you, so they will know what to expect. If you heed the advice in this clip, you will have no problem greeting and interacting with blind dogs.

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I stopped by Mud Bay Granary today on my quest for blind dog toys. Unfortunately, they didn’t have what I was looking for. It wasn’t a total loss, however, as one of the ladies working there gave me an excellent tip to help our dog find her toys. I had been looking for scent sprays to scent her toys with, but couldn’t find anything. The worker suggested I take a large ziploc bag, place a bully stick or my dog’s favorite treats in it along with the toy, and leave it for a few days to soak up the scent. It was so obvious, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it, but a big thanks to the folks at Mud Bay Granary for that little tip.

Jax and Bones Coco the Elephant Rope Dog ToyWhile I was there, I happened upon a great toy I think I’m going to try that tip on. It’s a Jax and Bones Coco the Elephant Rope Dog Toy. Our dog immediately took to it, so overjoyed with it that she went up the stairs to show her papa. The rope toy is chemical free (dyed with natural vegetable dye) and hand tied to fray naturally (and act like doggy dental floss). Coco is machine washable and durable, so hopefully she’ll be around for our dog to play with for a long time.

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