This toy may last 2 days if that...

A Virginia photographer does something very clever. Over the span of minutes, weeks, and even months she captures the wear and tear of… dog toys.

Dog owners have very similar stories: They go out and buy a new stuffed animal for their furry family member. Before you know it’s quickly shredded to pieces and sometimes into unrecognizable little bits.

“Sometimes it took a day, sometimes it took much longer,” says Hannele Lahti, a photographer based in Virginia. She after all is an expert because she owns three playful Boston Terrier rescues, Annie, Ollie, and Murray.


One day she was watching her pups play and Lahti got an idea. After buying a new stuffed toy she would take a picture of it before giving it to her wide-eyed canines. That’s how Dog Toy Project was first created.

Lahti asked some of her friends to participate. The friends were excited to have their pups toy carnage captured by photo.

A total of seven dogs participated in the project. She didn’t want to limit the project to just her own dogs.

“All of the large dogs destroyed the toy within minutes,” Lahti says. Oscar, a Newfoundland, was given a purple and gray stuffed elephant.

After just a couple weeks of play one of Lahti’s friends called her in a panic. It turned out Oscar’s elephant was gone. This meant Lahti was able to capture the before photo but now she wouldn’t be able to capture the aftermath.

After searching frantically for two weeks the owner discovered Oscar had buried the toy Elephant in the yard. I guess he wanted the toy all to himself.

There’s A Little Wolf That Comes Out

Like most mammals, dogs learn through play. According to the American Kennel Club, stuffed toys tend to emulate real life prey. This is the same as what wolf ancestors would have captured in the wild.

This may explain why Annie, Murray, Ollie, and millions of other dogs around the world don’t waste time mulling their adorable toys.

The kennel club recommends you pick your dog’s toys based off their favorite activities they already enjoy doing. Rope toys are good for chewing and playing tug of war. A ball or frisbee is good for games of chase and running.

Believe it or not dogs are a lot like children. When a toy is no longer knew it becomes boring. Sound familiar? Keeping your dog entertained is the key.

Most dog trainers recommend taking the toys that have been around for a while and put them away. Then when you bring them back out it’s like having a new toy. Oh, so sneaky…

This will also keep money in your bank account because you won’t have to buy so many toys.

Lahti hopes that her work will help shine light on a dogs behavior in a creative way.

“Each dog leaves their own mark on a toy,” she says. “In my dog photography—often down on all fours—I strive to glimpse life on their level.”

In that way, Lahti captures “the reality of dog ownership—a reminder to enjoy the small things.”

Ready to see some pictures? Watch the slide show Hannele Lahti put together.

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