Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ball Problem

Olivia loves to chase the ball. Actually, Olivia LIVES to chase a ball. I have searched everywhere and spent an obscene amount of money attempting to find the perfect ball. I have tried everything, but she doesn't like anything as much as the big play balls you find at Target or the grocery store. She loves them.

The problem is that they pop very easily. Stray sticks, rocks, bulldog teeth- the balls are only slightly thicker than a balloon, so we go through them quickly. I buy them by the case. Last summer, it seemed to be Olivia's mission in life to pop every ball she saw. We went through two cases (not to mention quite a few of camp's kickballs and basketballs), but then she sort of grew out of the desire to pop them and balls started lasting longer and longer. During the winter, we kept the same ball for weeks at a time.

Griffin's former owner told me he didn't like to chase balls and last summer, he rarely even looked at the ball. He would lumber out to the field with Olivia and I and lay and watch us the whole time. He wasn't disinterested, he was sick. It wasn't even a week after he had palate surgery that he began running, chasing and playing like a brand new dog.

Over the winter, his interest in chasing the ball was a day by day thing- some days he would play and some days he didn't seem to care. When he played, he attempted to pop the ball like Olivia used to, but for the most part, he chased it right along side of Olivia.

And then we got to camp. I opened a brand new case of balls, assuming I'd be set for the summer, even factoring in our early arrival. Shortly after arriving, we ran out to the field, eager to play, and within 30 seconds (it took us longer to blow the ball up and walk to the field), Griffin had popped the ball. I thought it was a fluke- he must have caught it at a funny angle.

Wrong. Griffin is on a mission to pop every ball he sees. And I don't know if it is his goofy crooked shark teeth or what, but the instant he gets near the ball, it explodes. We've gone through 15 balls in less than a week. He and Olivia have played a few times, running and chasing for minutes at a time. But it usually requires at least 2 attempts and me running like a mad woman to chase the ball with them and beat them both to it so I can throw it before he pops it.

Without Griffin, Olivia can chase the ball until she passes out. I usually take it away after 20 minutes or so- whenever her tongue starts to touch the ground and she looks like she will tip over from exhaustion. 20 minutes of running and she will relax peacefully for hours.

So I've recently started leaving Griffin inside when I take Olivia out to play. It kills me to hold back a wiggly, excited puppy, his big, droopy eyes begging to be loved. I feel like a monster. I feel like the worst puppy mom alive. But without him, Olivia gets the necessary exercise to keep her calm and I don't go through 5 balls a day.

Some dogs sit in a kennel for 8 hours a day. Some dogs live on the street and have to fend for their survival. My dogs spend their days roaming in and out of the house and yard (it's nice enough to leave the door open so they can come in and out at their own leisure), laying in the sun, going for multiple walks, chewing on bones and toys, and getting constant attention. So I don't think that being  stuck inside for 15 minutes a few times a day is going to kill him, or even damage him emotionally. And if that's my biggest source of stress, it's probably time for me to get a grip on reality.

1 comment:

  1. You are right there are worse fates, though when you feel one of your pups is missing out it is upsetting! I am not sure what the solution can be at the moment. Do they make mouth guards for bulldogs?