One dog toy to rule them all

Eureka! The word stems from an ancient Greek word meaning “I have found it!” While the exclamation is typically attributed to mad scientists and detectives, if my dog Oreo could speak, I think that’s what he’d say — “Eureka!”

Oreo has long searched for the perfect toy. Every time we bring home a new Nylabone or KONG ball or rope, his excitement rises. He chews and tosses his head and rolls around with joy. And then, over time, the enthusiasm fades. He either rips the toy to shreds or loses it under the couch.

But then, on Christmas day, Oreo received just what he wished for — one toy to rule them all.

A Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff ball.

Oreo playing with his Orbee-Tuff ball by Planet Dog.

Oreo playing with his Orbee-Tuff ball by Planet Dog.

I didn’t even intend to purchase it. It just happened to be attached to the Planet Dog stocking that I bought from Marden’s in preparation for Christmas. (Yes, my cats have stockings, too.)

The ball is shaped to look like a snowball. It’s hollow, with two holes so you can stuff treats inside. It’s durable, mint flavored, and unbelievably bouncy. Oh, and it floats!

But the coolest part … I searched for Planet Dog online and learned that they are a Maine-based company.

Courtesy of Planet Dog

Courtesy of Planet Dog

In 1997, Planet Dog started in Portland. Over the years, the company has grown, as well as their product line. Their mission: “To amuse, explore, support, innovate, create, educate, celebrate and ‘philanthropate’ … all in the name of the dog.”

In 2004, they opened their flagship store at 211 Marginal Way in Portland, where they hold events and training classes, as well as offer grooming and a “Romp-rrr Room” for dogs to play.

Through the Planet Dog Foundation, they’ve given back to the community through grants and volunteer work. For example, in 2007, they became a major sponsor with the Trust for Public Land and Portland Trails to convert an abandoned railroad bed into 1.4 miles of dog-friendly trails and pocket parks. Also, to date, they have helped influence more than 750 pet adoptions.

Courtesy of Planet Dog Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff balls

Courtesy of Planet Dog
Orbee-Tuff balls

In 2008, they were recognized for their innovation and philanthropy by being honored with The Maine Governor’s Award for Business Excellence and in being voted as one of the “Best Places to Work” in the country by “Outside Magazine.” That year, they ensured that all of their award-winning Orbee-Tuff products would be made in the United States.

I could keep writing about how cool the company is, but you can read about it all on www.planetdog.com, where you can also shop their product line of toys, leashes and collars, on-the-go doggy gear and treats.

So what’s Oreo’s Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff snowball actually made of? That was my big question. I amazes me that he hasn’t managed to rip it apart. Last night, he chewed on it for about three hours, and it wouldn’t break. On top of that, it bounces like flubber — you know, that bouncy green blob in the 1997 movie “Flubber” with Robin Williams.

Courtesy of Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff RecycleBALL

Courtesy of Planet Dog
Orbee-Tuff RecycleBALL

Understandably, Planet Dog doesn’t give away all their secrets online. They do guarantee that the toys are nontoxic and 100 percent recyclable. And they even have a durability scale, so you can choose an appropriate chew toy for your dog’s strength.

Also, instead of bacon or chicken (typical flavors of chew toys), these toys taste and smell like mint. And let me tell you, sometimes, a dog needs a little mint in his life — especially if he’s keen on kissing his owners.

To give you an idea of how much Oreo is obsessed with this toy, I’ll tell you a story. Last night, I sat down with a bowl of yogurt. Oreo begs shamelessly, especially for yogurt (I freeze it for him in the summer for a treat). But instead of sitting up and staring at me like he usually does when I have food, he glanced my way and went right back to chewing his Orbee-Tuff ball. I’ve never seen him choose a toy over food. Never.

I also discovered that he likes to play fetch with the ball. And because it bounces so much, he kind of goes berzerk, which is pretty funny to watch.

I usually don’t go crazy about specific toys like this, but it seems wrong not to share a “Eureka” moment. The fact that it’s a Maine-based company is a lucky coincidence, but one that makes me an even bigger supporter of the products.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Professionally, Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the "Outdoor" and "Living" pages. She's a wilderness romper and fashion-forward bookworm.