My dog’s mission in life is to annihilate every toy we give her. Don’t get me wrong — Sasha is a good dog, a picture of good behavior — smart, friendly with humans, and calm around other dogs. We adopted her from Nike Animal Rescue Foundation almost four years ago, and our best guess is that she’s a mix of Australian Shepherd and Border Collie. She’s a real sweetheart to humans and animals. To look at her adorable face, you would never suspect her innate killer instinct.

But I believe she sees herself as a superhero, and every new toy as a challenge to be conquered. When we say, “Here’s a new toy to play with,” I believe she hears, “This toy is a threat to all of humankind. Your job as protector is to stop this menace from destroying society.”

At least, that’s what I imagine goes on in her furry head.

Needless to say, it’s really a challenge to find toys that last longer than a day. At pet stores, my husband and I avoid all the racks of cute plush toys and colorful rubber squeak toys. I can look at a toy and instantly visualize how it would look in pieces on my floor. But a few months ago while we were shopping for dog food and treats, we saw display of toys that looked pretty tough. I picked up the one of the Tuffy Mega Rings, which was graded a “10” on a scale between one to ten on durability.

The packaging claimed that the toys were “tiger-tested” and were constructed with seven rows of stitching, four rows of material and protective webbing on the edges. We read the employee recommendation on the display that said that her pit bull terrier had one of these toys for months and it was still in one piece. Hey, if it’s tough enough for a tiger and a pit bull terrier, it’s tough enough for Sasha.

We gave her the ring, and after the initial sniffing and excitement of her new treasure wore off, she began to dig in. In less than 30 minutes, she had punctured through the material and was pulling out the stuffing. I managed to get the toy away from her and finished pulling out all of the stuffing so she wouldn’t ingest any of it. So much for durability! The manufacturer has a video of a tiger playing with the toy (you can see it here) to demonstrate how strong the product is. Well let me tell you, this tiger’s a real pussycat compared to our dog.

This past Christmas, we resigned ourselves to the fact that none of her presents would live to see the New Year. We bought her a plush Christmas tree that squeaked. With a little bit of hope in our hearts, we selected a sturdy-looking retrieval toy made of jute. I imagined throwing the toy on a sunny day at the park, and Sasha faithfully running after it and returning it to us, eyes gleaming and tail wagging with pride.

Cut to Christmas morning. Sasha remembers that her Christmas stocking holds new treasures, and she is eager to start opening her presents. Minutes later, under a flurry of red tissue wrapping paper, the stuffed tree is sprawled out on the carpet, white cotton stuffing and squeakers all over the floor. I hold my breath, awaiting the fate of the sturdier retrieval toy. But no such luck. Sasha quickly lays into it, and it soon starts unraveling before my eyes. I begin picking up the pieces from her aftermath.

We don’t have much luck finding toys that can withstand our dog’s super powers. In fact, the only toys that have stood the test of time are an extreme Kong, a couple of tennis balls, and a Tux made by West Paw Design.

The rest are in tatters around the house or in the designated toy box. Perhaps we should find her work as a dog tester, because she’s clearly good at finding weaknesses in product designs.

Cathy Weselby is a writer and marketing specialist who lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She enjoys hanging out with her Australian Shepherd mix, making mixed media art, and blogging about dogs and pop culture.

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