When Mike and Heather came out to the breeder’s house last March to choose me and take me home with them, they brought a yellow tennis ball along. It was for a little aptitude test they administered to my sisters and I. Apparently my quick and willing pursuit of that rolling object was one of the deciding factors in my favor (along with my winning personality and bald ears, of course).
For me, that tennis ball was Ball #1. Now I am up to 17 balls, more or less, and that number keeps growing. Last week we even passed up a couple. Yes, I guess it is possible to have too many balls.
Only three of mine were purchased. One of these is a larger ball that’s for pushing around with my nose. It came from Petco. My friend Tara had one, and I liked playing with it when I stayed at her house. It still provides a good poke around the kitchen or living room. I also have two orange-and-yellow tennis balls that were bought on the way to Dash Point State Park one sunny afternoon last August that Mike was driving around ball-less. It was a mistake he will not make again, I trust: Even when they were brand new, these Walgreen’s balls weren’t very good. They don’t bounce high, they don’t feel right in my mouth and they don’t taste or smell nearly as good as the scuffed-up ones I find on my walks with Mike.
Most of my acquisitions are weathered tennis balls that other dogs brought to Discovery Park and deserted. I’m not really looking for them, they just kind of find me by sitting on the side of a trail and waiting for my low-lying nose to pass by. So I point them out to Mike, and if they’re not too slimy, he takes them home for me, cleans and dries them, and puts them in a basket by the front door to join my tennis ball rotation. We use two balls on every walk to keep me going in the right direction. Mike throws one, I chase it, and when I get to that ball he throws the second one, walks over and picks up the first, and throws it again when I reach the second ball. See, I’m much better at running after a moving ball than I am at bringing one back. We’re still working out that part.
I’ve also found some smaller balls on my travels; these I only play with inside the house. One is a plastic baseball with raised “stitching,” about the size and weight as a Whiffle ball, but without its openings. I like to knock this plastic ball around because on the wood floor it goes real fast and makes a racket. It’s my version of Nok Hockey or Foosball. Noise is good. I also like a tiny fabric ball that I found last summer and a red spongey ball I uncovered in a pile of leaves last fall; they’re both soft, and they’re easy on my nose and teeth. (A bully stick or rawhide chewies is better than a ball for gnawing, anyway). What I really like about all of these inside balls is that any of them can be pushed under the living room couch, the coffee table or the cabinets where I can’t reach it. This gets me agitated and demanding, sometimes with vocalizing, and Mike has to get down on the floor, reach behind or underneath the furniture, and get me that damn ball. Which I need, of course, so I can knock it behind or underneath something else in another few seconds. Great fun for me; Mike, not so much.
I also found a couple of tiny, hard, white balls with dimples in the park. No, they weren’t Mike’s balls (those are red, I’ve seen them). These balls are for something called “golf.” They seemed like the right size for me to get in my mouth, so I tried chewing on them. I thought they might have a surprise inside, like the chocolate center in a Tootsie Roll Pop or the prize in a box of Cracker Jack. But as soon as Mike saw what I was doing, he took them away. I suspect he put them on the highest shelf of the hall closet, along with a plastic Frisbee that I found and hauled around for a few days until I started eating it. It was no big deal, I pooped it out in a day or two. I’ve eaten worse.
But Mike got all worried that I was developing a bad pattern here, that I was going to eat something and choke or need to have my stomach pumped. I don’t know what he’s talking about. Besides, if he really thinks these objects pose a real danger, why does he keep them around? I know the guy never throws anything away, but this is ridiculous.