Finzi loves chasing a ball, and the best way to do this is to use the sling-like launcher marketed as the Chuckit. As soon as we reach open fields, Finzi begins to pace backwards and fowards at my feet, waiting for the ball to be hurled fifty or sixty yards away. She’ll then chase it at full sprint, trying desperately to grab it as rapidly as possible. She especially loves to seize the ball in mid-air, when it’s just bounced up from the ground. When she catches it while the ball is still in the air, she gets huge satisfaction, holding her head high, with a glint in her eye, as if she’s saying ” Did you see that?”
Finzi will happily chase the ball for twenty or thirty throws on one walk, eventually flopping down in the grass, exhausted. When she gets home, she clambers into her basket to snooze for the rest of the morning. Without the ball launcher, she’d never get the same level of intense, satisfying exercise.
There’s a wide range of ball launchers on the market, sold everywhere, from supermarkets to pet shops to online. So what is it about the Chuckit that Finzi likes so much?
The launcher appliance is fairly standard: a piece of tough plastic like a long spatula. This gives leverage, so that with a flick of the wrist, the ball can be sent flying for up to a hundred metres. The Chuckit launcher is good, but it’s probably not very different to many of the other ball launchers on the market.
It’s the Chuckit ball that’s special. Many of the cheaper launchers come with balls that just don’t last. Some are made of soft rubber that’s easily shredded by Finzi’s teeth. Others resemble tennis balls, and again, a busy morning of chasing and catching by Finzi is enough to leave the ball punctured by her teeth.
The Chuckit ball is made of an in-between material: neither soft nor hard. It’s like tough rubber: there’s a little “give” in it if it’s squeezed hard, but it’s strong enough that Finzi can’t easily damage it by chewing. One Chuckit ball can last for months.
The Chuckit ball is heavier than cheaper versions, making it easy to throw it much further: the manufacturers say that it will go three times further than a standard tennis ball thrower.
There’s another key feature of the Chuckit ball – it makes a quiet but distinctly audible whistling noise when it’s thrown. Finzi seems to love this – it gives her another reason to rush off after the ball.
Here’s a great video of someone else’s dog chasing a Chuckit on the beach.
Any downside to the product? When using it, you need to be aware that it does not float on water. I have lost one on the beach: after throwing it accidentally into the sea, it sank immediately. I’ve waited for the waves to wash it back to me, but it was gone. I’ve learned not to use it if we are anywhere near a body of water – Finzi is prone to carrying it in when she goes for a swim, and if she lets go, that’s the end of the game: the ball sinks.
Which takes me to the only other down side of the Chuckit: it’s pricier than the budget options on the market.
The Classic Thrower plus Ball costs £13.99, and a replacement pack of two balls is £9.99 (or euro equivalents). But believe me, it’s worth every penny. You get what you pay for in life, and the Chuckit is the highest quality ball launcher I’ve seen.
There are a number of other Chuckit products in the range. If you have a high energy dog that loves chasing, have a look: there’s certain to be something that will give you and your dog as much fun as Finzi’s Chuckit chasing gives us.