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What to do when your dog eats/hides/mangles the remote control?

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Sofa cushions aren't the only things that eat the remote controls that operate televisions and other appliances. The eternal search for the missing remote often ends in the mouth of the family dog.

"Dogs are devouring remote controls," says a press release from Charlie Waters, customer service director for MrRemoteControls.com.

"My dog ate the remote" is second only to "somebody lost it" as the most common reason given by customers ordering replacements, he says. They say dogs bury remotes or chew them beyond recognition.

"Similar in size and shape to their favorite bone, a remote control has the added flavor of [their] master's scent, making it an irresistible treat," the release speculates.

Customer phone calls and e-mails indicate that industrial-strength no-chew sprays do not solve the problem.

"We're not really looking for a solution," Waters says, in the delightfully tongue-in-cheek press release. "We figure, Why bite the hand that feeds us?"

However, he includes a tip from Gail Spadafori, author of the best selling book, "Dogs For Dummies":

"All dogs chew, it's part of the genetic blueprint of the dog. Forget about trying to train your dog to leave the remote alone. Training yourself to put it out of harm's way when it's not in your hand is far easier."

Waters thinks that sounds like good advice, but adds: "People hide the remote from their dog and then they can't find it. We hear it all the time.

"Every day we get lots of crazy calls and e-mails from dog owners," Waters said. "One customer ordered several of our least-expensive remotes with no concern for make or model.

"She figured she would buy her four dogs their own remotes and then maybe they would leave her remote alone."

"Another customer insisted their Chihuahua would only attack their Emerson-brand remotes but would leave the others alone. We even had one customer who swore their dog was just trying to change the channel."

Birds and rabbits have also destroyed remotes, Waters said.

"Birds love to peck at them and rabbits seem to have a special affection for the rubber keypad buttons. Surprisingly, we rarely hear from cat owners."

The release concludes with top 10 reasons given to MrRemoteControls.com for needing a replacement remote.

This has nothing to do with pets or tales about pets, but I just thought it was funny. Here are my favorites:

1. My husband lost it. My wife lost it. My kids lost it. Note: We never hear "I lost it."

4. We moved but the remote didn't.

5. I just bought a universal remote. Unfortunately, I can't adjust the color, work the menu or program the VCR timer without the original remote.

6. My husband spilled beer, soda, coffee, water or all of the above on the remote.

9. My soon-to-be-ex-wife threw it against the wall.

Because this company all but-wrote my column for me, I feel compelled to direct you to the site, which includes the rest of the top 10: www.mrremotecontrols.com.

There are more than 400 million remote controls in the United States, which averages out to four remotes per household, says Waters, that funny guy from the remote replacement company.

There are 68 million pet dogs in U.S. households, according to a survey from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc.

The survey includes other interesting facts about pets and their people.

Sixty-two percent of U.S. households have pets now, compared to 56 percent in 1988, the survey says.

Thirty-nine percent of the households own dogs, while 34 percent own cats. But cats rule, at least numerically. There are 73 million felines in the United States and 68 million dogs.

Each of the 40 million dog-owning households has an average of 1.7 dogs. Each of the 34.7 million cat-owning households has an average of 2.1 cats.

The numbers for other pets break down this way: 12.2 million households have freshwater fish, 6.9 million have birds, 5.5 million have small animals, 4 million have reptiles and .7 million have saltwater fish.

Annual pet spending is expected to top $29 billion this year, up from $28.5 billion last year.

Each household will spend an average of $460 per pet this year, the survey shows. Veterinary care is the biggest annual expense, followed by food and supplies.

If you've seen dancing dogs at local shows and demonstrations put on by the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association, perhaps you'd like to give it a try.

The official name is canine freestyle, which combines obedience training with dance and music.

The Westmoreland County Obedience Training Center in Delmont is putting on a workshop for beginners from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Cost is $50 for a freestyler and dog or $30 without the dog. Space is limited.

For further information call Darla Paganini at caninefreestyle@stargate.net or 724-274-0721.

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