17 August 2011

The Power of the Ball

When I was growing up we had a black lab next door, Rowdy, who would play ball with you any time. I used to love it when he would come over. He would settle for a rock if he couldn't find a ball. I didn't understand the obsession. Our own dog had a soccer ball that he would chase around but he did not share or play well with others.
So when Z showed an affinity for playing ball I was pretty happy. From day one he had a great time chasing after the ball and he was pretty good at bringing it back.
Of course, being new to the puppy/ball game it took me a minute to learn that I had to teach him to drop the ball and wait for me to pick it up. For a while it was a game of keep away which he was much better at than I was.
He would play ball inside or out. His green nubbly ball was his favorite for his first couple of months. It was a soft ball so he could play inside or out with it. This was a good fetch ball but hard to catch.
I would be remiss if I didn't say that not everyone in the house was quite so happy about all the ball playing... Blizz is skeptical about the dog (even today) but she has been more accepting than Calista.
Zdeno is the luckiest pup on earth. My parents are avid tennis players. What could a ball lover love more than a non-stop stream of tennis balls to play catch with? This, and most mornings, his first task is to empty his toybox out onto the floor. We now separate 'inside' and 'outside' balls so that he can't mix them up.
His new soft soccer ball became a hit when he learned that he could catch it when we threw it up in the air for him. Who knew you could have so much fun with balls!
We were a little worried when the snow started to fly. We were able to play for a bit while the snow was still shallow. Art also plowed a path with the Bobcat for playing. Toward the end of winter we ended up playing ball with snowballs. This way he would get his exercise running through the snow but we wouldn't have to worry about tracking down lost balls.
Of course, if there were no ball to be found Zdeno could usually find a stick (or branch) to fill in.In the spring he started swimming in the local ponds again. Chasing a ball or stick into the water and rescuing it was a new way to enjoy his favorite activity.
He isn't proud. He will let anyone play ball with him. There is a little girl who helps pet sit while we are gone. She will do her homework down where Z stays at their house. She will throw the ball, get a little work done, throw the ball...for hours. Doggie heaven!
At this point Z has countless balls. Outside we stick to tennis balls as we have a launcher that can throw them the length of the field. Our skinny mini pup probably runs 5-10 miles a day! Maybe a little less when it is really hot as he splits his time between sitting in the pond to cool down and running after the ball.
The ball is the training tool we have used with Zdeno. He is not a foodie so we bribe him with ball. If you want him to come you better have the ball. If you wanted him to sit, lay down, stay you better have a ball! There is something for everyone and for Zdeno there is a ball for every occasion!

1 comment:

Jan said...

Ball obsessed dogs are great. Two of the problems are solved: motivating them and exercising them.

Beautiful dog and cat, btw