I still fondly remember the day Mike and Heather took me home from the breeder. To pick out one girl from among the four in the litter, they put my sisters and me through a little competition, kind of like a puppy Olympics. One of the events was chasing a tennis ball. While the others went nowhere, I chased, I scored, and I’ve been chasing after Mike’s balls ever since.
Bringing them back is another matter entirely, however. Mike never thought he’d see the day that I mastered the other part of this game.
And yet, check out this recent session in the park. I apologize for the wind noise in the background; it’s hard to find studio-quality audio techs out here in Magnolia. And note how Heather makes me toe the line and bring the ball back all the way to her feet. She may think she’s mellowed, but to me she’s still “Ms. Grimm.”
Even doubter Mike has to admit that I’m making progress, mostly due to the diligence of my aforementioned trainer Heather. Yet after a long session of chasing the purple-and-white ball in the park, once I get back home I still have enough energy for another 15 or 20 minutes of chasing after Wiffie, my white plastic baseball. Sometimes I roll Wiffie back to Mike so he can can toss it into the kitchen again, but other times I like to keep knocking Wiffie around all by myself, so Mike understands that he’s not completely essential to the game. When I get Wiffie rolling, smacking into cabinets, walls and tables, he makes quite a racket, like air hockey or foosball.
Recently Mike has started keeping score in the Wiffie game. It’s like golf, where you play against par: Every time I move one of the area rugs, I get a point. Three rugs in a round is a good showing, and my current record is seven (Mike counts a point every time I move a rug significantly, so I’ve gotten three points on the big rug in the kitchen alone, and without spilling my water bowl no less).
But I’ll have to admit I’m not perfect with this fetch game yet. Sometimes Heather or Mike can throw that purple-and-white ball a dozen times and I’ll bring it back all 12. Other times, I don’t even retrieve Throw 1. Why not? Well, there are still 8 million distractions in the naked city—and I want a whiff of all of them. After all, you’re only young once.