Monday, December 19, 2005

For hungry dogs: remote possibilities

For hungry dogs: remote possibilitiesSunday, August 14, 2005
LOOKING at LIFE Gary Brown Repository Living section editor
“Dogs are devouring remotes.”
The words jumped off the first page of the press release like a headline about Jennifer Aniston dating an alien.
So that’s what’s happening to them.
I guess I can stop looking between the cushions of the couch.
The man who linked the disappearance of television and stereo remote controls to the increase in plastic in the diet of American dogs is Charlie Waters, customer service director for
a company that sells original replacement remote controls via the Internet. According to Waters, “My dog ate the remote” is second only to “I lost it” as the most common reason given by customers who are ordering replacement remotes.
“There are over 400 million remote controls in the U.S. — an average of four remotes per household,” estimated Waters. “Combine that with 52 million canines living in U.S. households, and it’s easy to see why the remote is going to the dogs.”
OK, I don’t see the trend. I’ve had two dogs during the “remote period” of civilization and neither one of them showed any interest in eating electronic devices. They didn’t even want to snack on a remote.
But, Waters insists that his company gets calls and e-mails daily about it being a dogs-eat-remote world, including a communication from a woman who ordered several inexpensive remotes “with no concern for make or model.”
“She figured she would buy her four dogs their own remotes, and them maybe they would leave hers alone,” explained Waters. “Another customer insisted their Chihuahua would only attack their Emerson-brand remotes, but would leave the other remotes alone. We even had one customer who swore their dog was just trying to change the channel.”
Some dogs apparently can’t miss David Letterman’s “Stupid Pet Tricks.”
Dogs aren’t the only pets that think modern technology is edible. Waters said birds love to peck at remotes and rabbits think the rubber keypad buttons are tasty.
But, when your remote control turns up missing, “don’t be surprised if your dog has buried it or chewed it beyond recognition,” Waters said. Why? It seems to some dogs that the remote is similar in size and shape to a bone.
And, Waters’ press release noted that “a remote control has the added flavor of it’s master’s scent, making it an irresistible treat.”
So does my leg. That would make me a little nervous if I had a dog who liked to sleep beside my chair as I watched TV. For the dog it could be a tough decision.
“Let’s see, do I want to eat light and chew on the remote or go for the whole meal by chomping down on his calf ? ...”
It’s not easy to convince a remote-eating dog to try another diet. Many techniques and products have been used, including nasty-tasting sprays. They haven’t seemed to work, according to Gail Spadafori, syndicated pet- care columnist.
“All dogs chew; it’s part of the genetic blueprint of the dog,” she said in her book, “Dogs for Dummies.”
The better approach, she said, is to put the remote in a place where your dog cannot get to it. That’s not going to hurt Waters’ business. Either call him now or call him later.
“We hear it all the time,” he said. “People hide the remote from their dogs and then they can’t find it themselves.”
You can reach Repository Living Editor Gary Brown at (330) 580-8303 or e-mail:


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