Last week, the unthinkable happened.
It was a travesty. A tragedy.
It was the Worst Thing That Could Happen.
And it was all my fault.
I was playing ball with Tucker when the fickle finger of fate — or maybe it was an entire hand — reached out and toyed with our terrier in the most devious of ways. Well, either that or in a one-in-a-million set of circumstances, I managed to throw the ball directly into a clutch of branches, where it stayed lodged firmly in place.
Tucker didn’t see what happened. He knew —he counted on the fact — that once I threw the ball up, it always came down. Always. So it had to be somewhere on the ground. It was just a matter of sniffing it out. He ran around the yard in increasingly erratic circles, looking for his beloved green orb of fetchable bliss.
I told him it was up in the tree, but he ignored me, nose-to-the-ground, believing in the truth of gravity.
I tried to knock the ball down with a stick, then a frisbee, then a rake. I tried shaking the main limb. Our ladder wasn’t tall enough.
I was sure we had something somewhere I could use to retrieve Tucker’s toy, but I couldn’t think of it. Besides, it was heartbreaking to watch Tucker in the midst of his dilemma. I needed to help him quickly; I thought the poor dog was going to implode from ball withdrawal.
Out came the Backup Ball. (Of course I have one. Two actually. For emergencies.) I tossed it to my befuddled dog. Tucker instantly recognized it as a crude imposter. Even though it was the same brand. The same color. Bought at the same time as the other ball.
But he knew. Tucker knew it wasn’t The One.
He had a choice. Play with the replacement. Or don’t play at all. Reluctantly, he picked it up, and gingerly brought the Wrong Ball back to me. I threw it. He gamely brought it back.
Days went by. My husband and I didn’t have extra daylight hours to address the situation.
It snowed. And the ball stayed in place.
Every day while I was washing dishes, I looked out the window and saw that dot of bright green amid the brown and grey of winter’s vacant branches, accusing me of gross dog toy negligence.
Then we learned that a humongous snowstorm was heading our way. Blowing winds. Feet of snow. The word “blizzard” was being tossed about by gleeful meteorologists.
Images of a ball knocked loose by the storm and buried until spring ‘neath a smothering blanket of white convinced me it was time to act.
Brian, Aaron, and I held a strategy council to brainstorm ways to rescue Tucker’s toy. My son suggested a telescoping pole we had in the shed. My husband offered to perform the task.
Wielding the pole like a knight’s lance, Brian gallantly strode forth.
The dogs performed the requisite Inspection of the Tools.
Jasper, Lilah and Tucker watched as Brian aimed the pole true.
That’s when Tucker saw his ball for the first time — tight within the grasp of the evil maple.
He looked at me. “Can you save it? Can you rescue The One?”
With a steady hand, Brian knocked the ball loose from the tree’s grip, and gravity took over.
Tucker ran straight to his beloved. He picked up The Ball and spewed it out lovingly. Picked it up. Spewed it out. Wagged his tail. Tested the squeaker.
He was ready to play.
I was there to record the rescue and a game of fetch. The video is about 1 1/2 minutes long, but it’s worth it to see Tucker’s happy face when he is reunited with his special ball.
Have you ever had to rescue or repair one of your pet’s toys?
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