One of the unfortunate aspects of being a vet in pet practice is the witnessing of many traumatic incidents. One of my most vivid distressing memories happened when I had only been qualified for about three years. An emergency call came in on a Sunday afternoon: a dog had collapsed in a local park. I drove out there as rapidly as possible, but as it happened, there was nothing I could do to help. I arrived to find a sobbing woman crouched over the inert body of her Labrador. She had been playing with him, throwing sticks.
On the last occasion, the stick that she threw had stuck into the ground, like a javelin. The dog had been rushing after it, and he grabbed at it with his mouth, as usual. Tragically, the other end of the stick remained firmly embedded in the ground, so that the sharp protruding end that the dog grabbed was rammed straight into the back of his throat. A major artery was severed, and the dog had bled to death, then and there. Even if I had been on the spot when it happened, there was nothing I could have done. As it was, all that I could do was to console the poor woman, and help her with the arrangements for her dog’s cremation.
This was the most dramatic and distressing example of a “stick injury” that I have seen, but I’ve seen many other less severe cases. Even if a dog survives the immediate accident, there is often serious damage to the back of the throat requiring emergency surgery, with the risk of long term infection and complications.
So I was delighted when I received an email from someone called Paul Blair in November 2010, saying “Dear Pete, I’ve just launched a new type of dog toy as a safe alternative to sticks, called Safestix”. Paul and his wife Helen came up with the idea for Safestix when their Jack Russell, Razzle, cut his mouth on a stick he was fetching.
Paul sent me a sample of Safestix, and I loved it: I can throw it for my dogs to chase without any risk of an injury. I’ve taken the sample onto TV3 a few times: it attracts some odd looks because it does look a little peculiar, but it does what it’s meant to do – it allows dogs to chase a stick-like object in safety.
You can buy Safestix in pet shops nationwide, and you can also buy them online from £13.99. If your dog loves chasing sticks and you want to avoid a nasty accident, the Safestix could be the toy you’re looking for.