Lila’s eyes were glued to the green tennis ball that was being held by her best and favorite friend, Mike, my husband. One big throw of the ball sent her bounding across the field. As she trotted back to us, the closer she got, the more it looked as if she had a smile on her face. Lila had lodged that ball carefully between her teeth and headed straight towards her Dad.
Sometimes it takes a lot of coaxing to get Lila to drop the ball. There are times when we think we can fool her by having her run after another ball. When she runs to get it, she still holds a ball in her mouth. When she gets to the ball she is chasing, she pounces around as though she wishes she had thumbs so that she could grab onto it. It’s as if she is doing a dance with a ball. She tosses it from one front paw to the other. At times she will look at us with the ball in her mouth and quickly shake her head back and forth as if to say, “You can’t have it!”
As I walked along the path, I watched the game being played between dog and her best pal. When Lila ran off into the woods, we heard the crunching of branches and the swishing of long grass as she made her very own path. She came back without the ball.
“Where’s the ball?” Mike asked. She looked up at him. Her brown eyes sparkled, and she still had the doggie smile even though the ball was missing. She looked at Mike as if she was asking him the same question.
“Where’s the ball?” Mike asked again. She hopped about in a half turn, ran back into the woods like she knew where the ball was, and came back with an empty mouth once again.
“How can we play in the creek without a ball?” Mike asked. We walked along again, all together this time. Lila stayed by us even though we did not have a ball to keep her glued to us.
Suddenly she ran off into the woods again. She dashed out from behind a tree with a white lacrosse ball stuck in her teeth.
“Those are too heavy. It’ll sink to the bottom,” said Mike, even though Lila looked proud as could be that she found a ball.
One more turn and we were at the creek. During that short time, somehow the ball got lost. The still waters of the creek are already growing a thin layer of scum and I worried what her beautiful black fur would look like when she came back out to see us.
“Don’t worry, I’ll hose her off when we get back home,” Mike said, as if he could read my mind.
When Mike and I got to the bridge, Lila ran down the hill of dirt into the cool water that flowed and splashed over the large boulders. The water flowed faster here, and made Lila’s fur look clean. Mike wandered back by the trees and found a stick. He tossed it in the creek, and she retrieved it just until she got out of the water and onto the bank, where she dropped it. She climbed up the large boulders and was able to hold herself steady. Not one leg shook or wobbled while she climbed on the wet rocks. Mike climbed down the hill, got the stick, came back to the bridge, and threw it in again. Lila retrieved it and left it on the bank of the creek. She ran up the hill across the bridge and jumped in on the other side. They played this game over and over again while I watched.
The sun snuck through the branches of the trees, and the water splashed about with the stick going in and paws going after it. A little breeze felt cool on my face.
“Oh, no,” I yelled breaking my trance.
“What?” they both looked up at me from the bank of the creek.
“I forgot to bring her to the vet this morning.” How could I forget? All the fun of the trip to the park brought me back to my responsibilities. Shucks. We’ll go next week.