Stick of the day!

Two border collie sheepdogs. One is carrying a very large stick

They say you should never throw sticks for your dog!

Whenever we publish a picture of one of our dogs with a piece of wood in its mouth, we get a stream of correspondence from people who've had really bad experiences when their dog played with a stick.

Border collie sheepdog Carew with a stick in her mouth
If Carew would carry all her sticks like this she'd be OK but often they protrude from her mouth like a cigar.

They have my sympathy. I would be distraught if something were to happen to Carew when she's running around with a stick in her mouth. Of course, I don't mean a stick like the one in the picture at the top of the page. The dangerous ones are the small pointed ones. She will insist on running at full speed with one sticking out of her mouth like a cigar.

Sometimes, I fear it's only a matter of time before she runs into something and the stick penetrates the back of her throat - but where do you draw the line? To be honest, the way our dogs run around when they're on their twice-daily relaxation run, I would be constantly calling her to me from afar to remove sticks unless I trained her not to pick them up - and that's something I'm not prepared to do.

Apart from via social media, in my lifetime I have never spoken to anyone who's had a dog injure itself this way, so I try to weigh the risk against the joy it brings the dog. In my mind, there's no contest. We don't actively encourage the dogs to play with sticks, but if they happen to pick one up, we don't interfere.

I hope I never have cause to regret my decision.

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