One of MisFit Farm’s greatest discoveries has been toys that in their various incarnations amount to “puzzle” balls. We aren’t talking about the fleece “beehive” toys that would represent a puzzle in the only sense that we would be left wondering why we spent $20.00 on something so easily and quickly destroyed. We are talking about the “hard” toys where treats are inserted into a contraption with an internal “maze” which requires the contraption to be twisted and turned to manipulate the dispensation of the internal treats.
The puzzle balls are bar-none Azure’s favorite toy EVER. The other members of the krewe have no interest in anything requiring such a high effort-to-reinforcement ratio. Azure, on the other hand, dive-bombs through life with the mantra of diminishing returns.
We started with a ball procured on a fluke from Wal-Mart. I say this was a fluke because (a) Wal-Mart is not one of our most favorite or frequented shopping establishments, and (b) we have never since found another such toy for offer at any Wal-Mart establishment.
Azure was interested in the first ball, which was blue, but not overwhelmingly so. K reasoned that because the ball wasn’t see-through, the intermittent reinforcement the ball offered Azure was not associated with contents she could see. She, naturally, could not hear the contents rattling around inside the ball and therefore lost interest before the bounty had been exhausted. Hear no treats, see no treats,
Never ones to accept subtle rejection, we located another version of the puzzle ball. This one was clear and allowed Azure to see the presence of tasty treats inside the ball. With the introduction of this version of the puzzle ball, Azure was hooked like Danny Bonaducci in an opium den.
Armed with a better understanding of the puzzle-ball concept, like a one-armed carpenter with a single tool, Azure approaches all new toys as if they were a puzzle ball.
And, thanks to the ingenuity of dog toy manufacturers, she is mostly correct. We are now the proud owners of clear puzzle balls, solid puzzle balls, a large buster cube, a buddy treat dispenser, and the remnants of a rubber puzzle ball resides in the yard somewhere beneath the snow. Azure is relentless when on the trail of a puzzle ball and its solution. The buddy tug jug © learned this the hard way.
Tonight, however, Azure may have met her match, although not in the form of a puzzle ball.