Behind the Headquarters Building has become my designated favorite spot in my park. I go there practically every day at least once to play two games with my purple-and-white ball: fetch (I chase the ball and bring it back to the thrower) and catch (I catch the ball in my teeth and throw it back!). I’m getting pretty good at both of these games.
I learned to play catch almost two years ago. That was on the other side of the Headquarters Building, down the hill a bit. That particular spot isn’t as good now, as weeds have proliferated and bicyclists intrude on my court with more regularity. The nerve of some people to get in my way.
My favorite spot is more secluded, on the back side of the building. A paved parking area remains, currently being used as a staging area for replanting. The pavement gives way to a wooded trail that winds through a grove of red alder and native evergreen trees, keeping it relatively protected from wind and other park visitors. If I see anybody, I just bark at them and they leave, petrified. When I have it to myself, it’s perfect for throwing and chasing my ball, and whenever I get a little tired or hungry, I’ve got plenty of sweet grass to munch on at the nearby salad bar.
The top photo above shows where I start my games. First I fetch the ball from throws that end up in the weedy understory that stretches from the pavement to the first bend in the trail. Sometimes I have to ferret the ball out from the weeds, and I’ve gotten pretty good at digging it out. Luckily there’s no stinging nettle or blackberry around here, which can be a deterrent. I like to play fetch like this for 20, maybe 30 throws. Then it’s time for a big drink of water and snacks (of course; salad bar only goes so far). Then maybe another 20 or 30 throws for good measure. By that time, Mike and Heather are usually moaning that their arms hurt.
On some days we play additional fetch further down the wooded trail, but when the trail gets to the bottom of a slight downhill slope, we turn around and Mike or Heather tosses the ball back toward the top of the incline. When I track it down, I bring it back to the crest of the hill, size up my target and the narrow, twisting route and drop the ball to the ground with a slight flip of my head. It starts rolling slowly, but builds up just enough momentum that it rolls all the way down to my catching partner waiting below. Then he or she picks it up and throws it toward me again. Here’s what it looks like:
Sometimes I snag the bouncing ball right out of the air, like an infielder (not necessarily a Mariner infielder). But even if a throw gets past me, I’m quick enough to run it down and get it back to the pitcher’s mound, where I wind up, check the base runners, and release it again so it can roll downhill to Mike or Heather, who pick it up and throw it towards me again.
For a change of pace, let’s take a look at playing catch from my perspective:
I’m usually good for 15 or 20 of these, sometimes more. Maybe playing catch will be my ticket to the 2016 Olympics or an appearance on David Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks. Even if it’s not, I defy anybody to tell me that they’re not impressed with my endurance and athleticism. I sure am, and after all, that’s what really counts!