This is Maggie asked to sit and stay beside her overflowing toy box, the one I promised to clean out over the holiday break.  (You can see how well I did.) In spite of having two overfull bags of “toys kept away from Maggie to re-introduce at a later time,” the toy box in our living room has gotten out of hand.

I will clean it out soon, I will I will I will, but it got me thinking about what is new in dog toys and, heaven help me, what I should be looking for in new ones.

Primary on my list is safety, of course, but secondarily I want to buy her new toys from places that are as good to the planet as they are for our dogs.  That got me hunting around on the internet for eco-friendly dog toys, where I discovered all kinds of wonderful things.

First, I like this post from Treehugger.com, with a list of six dog toy companies who make eco-friendly dog toys. The one I know best is West Paw, who has a toy that I use a lot called a Hurley Dog Bone. It’s made out of Zogoflex,which is said to be non-toxic to dogs and the environment, BPA and Phthalate free, and super sturdy. Maggie’s has lasted forever.  West Paw also has several fabric toys that deserve to be checked out.

Here’s the Divine Miss M playing with a blue Hurley Dog Bone. I can’t remember when I bought it, but I’ve had it a long, long time, and it is none the worse for wear.

Another company mentioned by Tree Huggers is P.L.A.Y.  They have stuffed toys made out of recycled plastic bottles and dye free fabrics, and can go in the washer and dryer.  Bonus: They donate 2% of the purchase price to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Check out Tico the Toucan, or their Giant Sea Squid. (Does Maggie have to have these or can I just keep them for myself?)

One Green Planet also has a list of eco-friendly dog toys. Along with the Hurley dog bone above, they also mention one of my favorite dog toy companies, PlanetDog. I liked them so much I used to sell some of their toys on my website. They sell “OrbeeTuff balls” made from recycled materials, and are free of toxic chemicals. The balls are a bit small for some dogs, but check out their website, they have a lot of toys to offer and are committed to safe, eco-friendly toys made in the USA.  Some of the toys on the One Green Planet list (of 10) I do wonder about… would I want to give Maggie recycled rubber tires? But do check them out, lots of interest there.

I can’t stop without mentioning one of my favorite companies, Kong. A group of us got a tour of their plant, and were impressed by their commitment to providing safe toys for dogs, and to treating their employees like family. I am not knowledgeable about exactly what goes into all of their toys–it’s on my list to learn more. However, they have been leaders in promoting positive reinforcement training for police and military dogs around the world, and they deserve a mention just for that. I’ll keep you posted.

And you?  What are your favorite toys, especially ones that are safe for dogs as well as the environment? Maggie wants to know, because obviously, she doesn’t have enough toys.

This is Maggie with her current favorite by the way, which wasn’t visible in the box because it is pretty much never in it.

She especially loves to take it up onto “her chair,” sort of like a leopard taking its prey into a tree.

MEANWHILE, back on the farm: We had a lovely night away last weekend to Mineral Point, a tiny town in Southwestern Wisconsin with more historic buildings than you can shake a stick at. It was quiet–many of the stores were closed–but that didn’t stop us from having a truly special time. Here’s from the town’s website:

Mineral Point is tucked in the rolling hills of Southwest Wisconsin. This area, known as “driftless” was left untouched by glaciers, leaving minerals that were easily accessible at the surface. These minerals provided quick rewards to early prospectors and adventurers who swarmed the hills and made crude temporary housing resembling badger holes – which explains Wisconsin’s nickname, The Badger State.

The town is crammed full of old stone buildings, many registered with the National Register of Historic Places. If you like architecture, old stone buildings, great food and a lovely escape, check it out.

We stayed at the Miner’s Cottage on Shake Rag Alley, ate truly great salmon at the Brewery Creek Brew Pub and loved that we FINALLY have some snow! Here’s a restored prairie and woodland site we passed by on the way home.



The town is full of surprises: Here’s an inset of a stone mason on one of the many stores housed in old, stone buildings.


We missed Maggie and Tootsie, but there were dogs . . .

I look forward to hearing about your favorite toys, especially given that we are in the belly of the beast of winter around here; so dark! More light will be lovely in February . . .


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