When I started unpacking in Alaska, I found not one nor two but three little yellow rubber ducks, no pocket without one.  Every one of my dogs has loved games with rubber ducks – catching them and tossing them back in the bathtub, finding a duck hidden somewhere in the house, running after a tossed duck outside and bringing it back to hand.  They even work as in the photo at the left, keeping Sky from barking while my daughter and grandchildren practiced the sudden movements and loud sounds of martial arts.  Because the ducks are small and, mercifully, have no squeakers, they are perfect to always have on hand for a spontaneous game of fetch.  I found that if I went around to the back on an outdoor, open staircase, and placed the duck as high as I could reach, Sky knew to run around to the front, run up the stairs, snag the duck and bring it back.  So new games like this give her not just a little exercise, but brain work as well.

Eventually, Sky will behead each beloved duck, but dog toys are not meant to last forever and if a duck falls apart while we are out playing, the body in one place, the head in another, I can always find a stick or fish around in my pocket and then toss a set of keys.  The game’s the thing.  Play on.  (There are many more games to play with your dog in Dog Smart, The Art of Training Your Dog, available for the iPad, Kindle and Nook for a mere $4.99.)

What’s in your pocket?