The Taste of Music: Dog rates Etymotics “delicious” | iLounge Backstage


The Taste of Music: Dog rates Etymotics “delicious”

imageWhen we started Backstage two years ago, we mentioned that we loved dogs - frequent readers may recall that Dennis, Bob, and Larry have had dogs named Rocket, Briadha, and Chewie, respectively, while I have Sake, a mostly adorable Siberian Husky, and thanks to my girlfriend, his new brother Roman (shown here). You don’t hear often about any of these pets because the worlds of iPod and canine so rarely intersect, but this weekend brought one such opportunity, so I’m sharing it here today.

I described Sake as “mostly adorable” because he’s been a pretty good dog for the past two years; even on the ten or so total occasions he’s done something obnoxious - say, sticking his face into an apple pie or eating freshly baked cookies off of a counter - he’s generally more amusing than harmful, living up to the Siberian Husky breed’s reputation for almost charming mischief. Almost all of those ten naughty incidents involve him eating things he shouldn’t be eating. Unfortunately, three of the things he’s eaten happened to be high-end earphones. And coincidence or not, all of them were developed by Etymotic Research.
As a just-arrived puppy many moons ago, Sake sniffed at my then-favorite pair of earphones - Etymotic’s ER-4Ps - only a few days before pulling them off of my nightstand and chewing them to shreds. For obvious reasons - starting with the $330 price tag, and ending with the fact that I carried these headphones pretty much everywhere - I was very upset. But after I appropriately disciplined the dog, he didn’t go after another pair of earphones for a very long time, and trust me, he’s had access to lots of them.

In early July, fresh back from a brief trip, my girlfriend made the honest mistake of placing a pair of Altec Lansing iM616 headphones - developed by Etymotic and strongly resembling the ER-4Ps - in a Ziploc bag on the floor of her car, near Sake. We don’t know whether it was scent, appearance, or something else, but within 15 minutes, he’d chomped up the monitors, eating their rubber triple flange earpieces and leaving only cords and chewed up plastic as evidence. Human error? Partially. He’d sat right next to plenty of earbuds without even licking his lips, but for some reason, he wanted to sample these for himself.
This weekend, Sake struck again. I had purchased replacement ER-4Ps some time ago, and continued to enjoy them, using the headphone plug frequently for case testing and the earbuds themselves for travel and comparative listening evaluations. As iLounge Headphone of the Year award winners, they were quite literally the only $300 pair of earphones I considered good enough to buy twice, and I put my money where my mouth was.

Unfortunately, Sake was equally willing to put my money in his mouth, doing another Etymotic taste test while I was out on Saturday night. This time, my new ER-4Ps were hidden inside of a zippered case on top of a desk, with only the headphone plug sticking out for use in case testing. When I discovered them in pieces later, the case had been opened and the earphones removed, both from the case and from the cables they’d once been attached to. The triple flanges had again disappeared, while the monitors were chomped nearly to the point of indistinguishability. This time, I was livid - mostly at Sake, but also at myself for thinking that he wouldn’t jump up on a desk or go after another pair of Etymotics.
Has Sake been disciplined? Yes. Have I learned anything? Definitely. After phone calls and e-mails with family members and dog experts, there were different opinions on whether Sake had earned a one-way ticket back to Siberia, but the most level-headed commenters opined that some major changes were necessary. With a dog around, a safe or lock box should be used for storage of my high-value testing components. And despite Sake’s previously good past track record - he’s sat alongside me during testing of literally 1,000 different iPod accessories - he probably shouldn’t have complete freedom to roam the house any more when he’s not being watched. Additional discipline - not yelling or screaming, but a more rigid system to keep even his low-level mischief in check - is appropriate. Though one person surmised, probably correctly, that there was a distinctive Etymotic or other familiar scent in either the rubber flanges or the earpieces that explained why Sake would treat these specific earphones - and not their cables - as a toy, he shouldn’t be given the chance to repeat his past offenses again.

I’m still a bit upset and certainly a bit poorer for the experience, but my attitude is this: thankfully, the earphones can be replaced, the dog’s not sick, and no one was hurt. As goofy as the story may be, I hope that it will help someone else to avoid the same sort of problems we’ve had here - and perhaps encourage others to share their similar experiences. Does anyone else’s dog (or other pet) have tastes like mine, or is Sake the world’s only premium earphone gourmet?

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Mine does!

Though they’re not quite in the $300+ price range, our cocker spaniel found my Shure E2C’s quite tasty.

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on August 21, 2006 at 4:41 PM (CDT)


Q: What do you get if cross two dogs with a pair of headphones?
A: Hush puppies!

So sorry about your headphones!

Posted by Christina on August 21, 2006 at 5:14 PM (CDT)


Have you talked to ety’s customer service ?  they are amazing . Fixed mine @ no charge way after warranty was over.I do love my dog more than my 4p’s but not by much . Good luck.

Posted by BRAD on August 21, 2006 at 6:19 PM (CDT)


Man can I relate to this! My dog Baron decided to taste test 2 pairs of my Maui Jim sunglasses (which ran about what your headphones did). Unfortunately, Baron can also open every door in our house with his mouth so now I put my valuables away and keep them behind locked doors.  This hasn’t happened in quite a long time (since he was a pup) but if he decides to eat my Shure e500’s, I will not be a happy camper.

Posted by Chris on August 21, 2006 at 7:16 PM (CDT)


My pit bull Smokey munched my ER-6i’s when I left them on my nightstand.  He chewed off the triple flange earpieces and left the earbuds slightly mangled but basically intact.  It must be that the rubber in the flanges smells like a chew toy.  I have other earphones but he has never bothered any of them. 

I replaced my ER-6i’s but now keep them in an Altoids tin.  He doesn’t care for Altoids and hasn’t bothered them again.  Maybe they smell different.

Posted by TulsaGent in Tulsa, OK, USA on August 22, 2006 at 12:15 AM (CDT)


My dog got ahold of my hearing aids one time.  They survived, but only because we were fast.

The insurance form for the hearing aids has a picture with a dog holding the aid in its mouth and giving an “what did I do” look.

Posted by Cameron T. on August 22, 2006 at 12:55 AM (CDT)


My cat loves my Etymotic ER-6is, but I’m sure it has less to do with the brand and more with that it’s a thing with cords.  I’ve taught her to play with laces, so now she goes after anything with cords.  Luckily the phones weren’t damaged, only the flanges.  I found most of the pieces of them, but there were some bits missing.  I was always curious if she passed them painlessly.

Posted by Alex on August 22, 2006 at 12:57 PM (CDT)


My boa constrictor swallowed my $300 Bose noise cancelling headphones, after crushing them to death. Still has a big lump in it. Not really but would’ve made a great story had I pictures to back it up.  Maybe you could buy replacement flanges, attach them to the remains of your previously chewed-on Etys and leave them hanging around the house as decoys in order to preserve the real thing. Or take them to the park and play catch with Sake.

Otherwise, there could be a great career opportunity for Sake at the airport as an Etymotic baggage search dog.

Posted by Voh Poh! on August 22, 2006 at 4:34 PM (CDT)


Note to Self: Dog + Ety = :(

[and $900 poorer]

Posted by LukeA on August 22, 2006 at 11:45 PM (CDT)


That is such a bummer, and was a great idea to write up the story. The Altoids tin is the best solution for small things. It’s the smell that’s attracting the atttention and I think, probably, it’s an inverted compliment in as much as I suspect it’s the smell of ear wax!!! Not such an appetising idea but if you think of how dogs groom both their owners and other dogs, ears come in for a lot of attention. That’s why it’s a good idea to cover the smell with the scent of mint and put the headphones in a metal box = altoids tin.

My very lovely lab/boarder collie cross ate my FAVE shoes. Shoes are verrrrry desireable, leather and owner smells combo - beware, much loved shoes and dogs not a good mix. Put them well out of reach, (and the shoes ; )  )


Posted by Laughinggravy on August 23, 2006 at 2:40 AM (CDT)


Never had a dog eat anything of mine :) ‘Course I never leave dogs alone with my stuff either!

Posted by not me on August 23, 2006 at 3:16 PM (CDT)


My cockatiel got ahold of my old earthumps.. but that was fine by me since they sucked anyway :P


Posted by Josh Powell in VA on August 25, 2006 at 5:48 PM (CDT)


Sibes are the best dogs ever, along with mutts of course.

Posted by icantpod on August 26, 2006 at 11:33 AM (CDT)


My dog does the same.  She ate the foamies off my E3cs and there were little tooth marks on the buds.  and she ate my cheap sony buds.  It’s the ear wax for my dog.  one of her favorite pastimes is licking the inside of my ear.

Posted by Emo on August 26, 2006 at 10:42 PM (CDT)


....friend of mine’s puppy devoured my maui jim ‘volcano’ sunglasses….

i sent a rather funny (if i do say so myself) letter to maui jim, written like a news headline:  “Fireproof puppy defeats volcano!!”  I gave them money just to replace the lenses ($60)...i was going to deal with the scratched-to-hell frames (he’d played and tumbled with them around on a concrete patio…mmm…great for the finish).

well…they gave me a brand-new set of glasses ($250 retail), and put some dog bones in the box.


so….perhaps some cleverness could score you some new ‘phones.


Posted by onlyshawn on August 27, 2006 at 7:06 PM (CDT)


We have 4 Border Collies.  One took a liking to my Sure E2c’s a little over a year ago making them look much like the Etymotic’s above.  I had purchased these just after they were on the market and paid full price.  A call to Sure was great!  They charge only $100.00 for a full replacement.  I have never put my Sure’s low enough for the dogs to reach.  I didn’t learn my lesson, last week the iPod Shuffle turned itself into a rawhide stick.  There were pieces all over our bed…...

Posted by brad on August 28, 2006 at 11:39 PM (CDT)


thankfully Elvis (our 7 year old airedale terrier) is over his chewing days, there´s still danger with cats and ipod video. Homer likes to sleep on top of the ipod video and sometimes pushes it over the shelf, so I found it in the floor three times in the past month. I don´t think he plays, just to lie on top of it.

Posted by Applefreak on August 30, 2006 at 3:01 AM (CDT)


How about cats? A week after getting my ipod I made the mistake of leaving it in another room while I had dinner. Even though it was not moving and I had the headphones nicely wraped up, my cats still decided to taste test the headphones. Correction, it was my sisters cat that we all think wants to be a dog because he chews on everything!! I was so mad at him, it was only the stock headphones but I had only had my ipod for a week!! I did e-mail apple support telling them my cat chewed off the headphones ...... I hope someone had a laugh at the other end.

Posted by Knitting_Teen on August 31, 2006 at 1:51 PM (CDT)


Man, I hope it makes you feel better that your dog is a source of hilarity around my house!  My kids are rolling on the floor after seeing those pics!

Posted by jazmaan on September 1, 2006 at 1:27 AM (CDT)


My pet parrots have developed a particular likint to my sure phones. They survived without a scratch(though my ear still hurts from bieng attacked!:)

Posted by Kurt V. on September 16, 2006 at 9:58 PM (CDT)


One of my mate’s dogs has a thing for Sennheiser HDs. The strange thing is, she takes the drivers, and the casings of the drivers, but leaves the earcups, headband, and wires pretty much intact. We’re both becoming suspicious that some part of cat is used in making the HD drivers!

Posted by CJ J. on May 31, 2007 at 3:09 AM (CDT)


“...he probably shouldn’t have complete freedom to roam the house any more when he’s not being watched…” Boy, that’s the understatement of the year!

Goodness, I just purchased a pair of ER-4P’s, and just happen to own a Siberian Husky (Kleska ROXANNE).

She is deadly curious and sneaky (though charming and beautiful of course). If she is ever allowed in the main house, I have to close all bedroom and bathroom doors, cover all trash cans, remove all food from dog-accessable places…She is a professional counter-cruiser, and will try to eat anything! Toilet paper is her favorite dessert!

Sibes are notorious for this stuff, but I will definitely hide my ‘phones! Forwarned is forearmed, so Thanks!

Posted by Rita on June 27, 2007 at 4:44 PM (CDT)

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