Cabbage best used as dog toy

May 01, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

Rough guess, I would say that we've spent $200 on toys for the bouvier de Flandres named Opie. Off the top of my head, I recall the $18 croaking frog we call Ribbit, the $13 squeaking hedgehog, the $15 Mr. Squirrel and a $17 Mr. Beaver. And that's not to mention various assorted balls and bones and chews.

So what are his favorite toys?

In no particular order, they are a limb from a cedar tree, a plastic snow shovel handle, a chunk of a broken ceramic lawn ornament and a cabbage.

I believe there is a teenager correlation here. You buy them a wardrobe of expensive clothes and they insist on wearing the same ratty jeans for 297 consecutive days.

To be fair to the animal, he will every so often play with a store-bought toy. Part of his morning ritual is to grab an "indoor toy" and try to take it outside. We always take it from him before he goes out and he knows we will take it from him, but it doesn't matter. It's like his morning cup of coffee - he needs it to get the mischievous juices flowing.


Once he stuffed both Mr. Squirrel and Mr. Beaver into his mouth, and when I said "drop it" he dutifully dropped Mr. Squirrel. I didn't notice he still had Mr. Beaver until he was outside, where he proceeded to shake it at me, toss his head and laugh his fool ears off.

But given his druthers, he'd rather play with a toy of his own creation. The stick I can understand. All dogs play with sticks. And I sort of get the snow shovel handle - a relic of bygone times that he dug up while I was tilling a new raspberry bed. It's plastic, kind of chewy, very dirty, not atypical of something a dog would be interested in.

But we did raise our eyebrows when we noticed Opie carrying around a chunk of pottery that used to be a frog/rain gauge. I had told Beth that this frog had succumbed to the natural freezing and thawing, expansion and contraction paradigm that is common in nature. But in truth, I had hit it with the lawn mower.

Fearing sharp edges, we quietly removed this object from Opie's field of play when he wasn't looking.

So, obviously, he needed a replacement. I just never thought that he would turn to the compost heap as an impromptu toy store.

Some weeks, or perhaps months, ago, I had purchased a cabbage at the grocery store. I don't remember why; it seemed like a good idea at the time. It sat in the refrigerator for some time, outliving at least two light bulbs. It was one of those situations where each morning we would say, "You know, we really ought to eat that cabbage tonight," but each evening we would manage to find something more palatable, which wasn't too difficult when it comes right down to it.

Time passed. You know you've crossed the line when you stop saying "we really need to eat that cabbage" and start saying "we really need to do something about that cabbage." The tipping point came when we began buying goat's milk four gallons at a time to feed to the baby kids. Something had to go and even though, as a grandchild of the Depression, I hated to waste the 89 cents, out to the compost pile it went.

Forty-five seconds later it was back. By this time, it was bleached white, and Beth about had a heart attack, thinking Opie was toting around a skull. I was instructed to take it from him, but he's big on chewing, so by that time we didn't have a cabbage, we had slaw. I didn't care - 89 cents sure beats $18.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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