(top photo by Laura Smith)
Ginger has turned into a ball dog. At first she'd watch it sail past, then eventually she started trotting after it. She'd catch it and parade it around the dog run, showing it to everyone while she bounced it in her jaws. Once in a while she'd bring it back, but she'd usually plop down and shred it. Then we started training her.
We'd throw the ball, she'd chase it, we'd bribe her back with a treat. Drop we'd say and pretty quickly she got it. When she'd drop it Joe would give her a treat then immediately throw it. She'd chase it, bring it back, get a treat, chase it. Pretty soon she started bringing it back and dropping it at our feet on her own, treat or no treat. Within a week we had a ball dog.
Chaos can break out at the dog run and she'll ignore it if we're throwing a ball. Her best friends come lomping onto the run and if she's chasing, she doesn't care. She'll go until she drops, so we'll end it long before she's ready to. Or we'll end it if we want her to play. She's a thief so we have to watch her with toys that aren't hers, but one of the runs supplies piles of balls so if another dog intercepts hers there's always another close by. Early mornings we get into a throwing and chasing rhythm that's a kind of meditation. It's a great way to start the day.
When we leave the run, if she looks like she doesn't want to move I'll give her a ball to carry. She wags the whole way home with it in her mouth, showing it off to dogs and humans alike. I'll take it from her at the end of our block then use it to bribe her up the stairs. When we get home I trade her a treat for the ball and it goes on top of the fridge until we go out again later. This dog loves her routine and happily, we do, too.