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Chew toys not a license to kill

Updated: May 26, 2012 8:02AM

Q. I don’t have a dog, but I often buy presents for the many deserving dogs I know. So I’ve noticed the catalogs always display a variety of furry chew-toys for dogs.

Every time I hear of a small dog being bitten or mauled by a larger dog, I wonder if the bigger dog even realized that his plaything was another dog and not a rag doll. Why hasn’t anyone called for a ban on toys that look like animals? Am I correct to worry about this?

A. You are correct to worry. You also are correct to worry about an asteroid hitting Earth. Furry chew toys do imitate critters in the wild, with one exception — they are utterly passive. A dog can have his way with them. This activity satisfies the dog’s instinct to chew and shake the life out of something and, yes, it’s all in good fun. When Dog Lady first became a dog keeper, she was aghast at the antics of dog play. Rough wrestling, though, is healthy for dogs. Sure, some untrained dogs with aggressive instincts can lead a life of crime. Yet, for the majority of dogs, a stuffed toy provides a toothless tiger of an outlet.

Q. I have a wonderful dog named Cassady who’s great with people but not so much with other dogs. I am moving to Alaska and really want to take her with me, but flight regulations for animals say they cannot be muzzled. Do I need to worry about her not wearing a muzzle?

A. All dogs traveling in the cargo hold of airplanes must be caged, so unless they escape, they are strapped in for the entire flight. The airlines ban muzzles on dogs to decrease the risk of liability should the jaw restraint injure the dog. Keeping your dog contained from the moment you enter the airport ensures Cassady will be protected from mixing it up with other dogs.

Dog Lady gets the heebie-jeebies thinking about dogs in the air. If there is no other way to transport Cassady to Alaska, you must hold your breath and hope she arrives safely.

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