Obsessed does not adequately convey Kaiah’s, well, obsession with miniature tennis balls. Kaiah, for those who don’t know, is our smallest and youngest Yorkie. Two and one-half years old and five pounds of pure energy, fluff, and sass. I’m not sure when her obsession with mini tennis balls started, but suffice it to say, her obsession has never abated. Not… for… one… moment.
Dogs are creatures of habit and routine like their fur parents. Routine helps all God’s creatures feel secure. We know what to expect. As soon as the alarm rings in the morning, Kaiah is off the bed in search of a tennis ball. She usually has one in her mouth while waiting at the door to go outside to potty in the morning. More often than not, we need to set a ball up out of sight to eliminate the distraction long enough for her to eat breakfast. And, if it’s not a ball distracting her from breakfast, it is Sophie, our cat. Kaiah’s other obsession.
When I shower, Kaiah tosses a ball into the shower stall and then steadfastly stands with her head peeking under the shower curtain, eyes intently focused on the now-soaked and soapy ball. I, then, dutifully bend over, pick up the ball, and toss it into the sink. Kaiah turns her attention to the sink and jumps up and down until I am out of the shower and can wash and dry the ball. We have the cleanest tennis balls in the neighborhood. Once washed and dried, I toss the tennis ball into the bedroom, and off she goes.
I like to wash my hair by hanging my head over the bathtub rim. My hairdresser disagrees with me, but I think washing my hair upside down, so to speak, gives my hair more body and bounce. Kaiah, accompanying my every footstep, follows me into the bathroom while I prepare to wash my hair. She stands up, tennis ball in mouth, front paws on the bathtub rim, and drops the tennis ball onto the rim where it rolls off and into the tub. As I stick my head under the faucet, Kaiah looks over at me, eyes blinking incredulously, as if the ball is somehow acting out of character and I need to do something about it. Gravity fascinates her. When I don’t respond, Kaiah jumps into the tub to retrieve her beloved fluorescent miniature tennis ball. This scenario repeats itself several times before I am finished washing my hair. And, if the ball gets wet and soapy, it gets washed and dried again. Like I said, cleanest ball in the neighborhood.
At precisely 4:30pm every workday, the three Yorkies and I go outside to breathe in the fresh air and stretch our legs. Kaiah makes a beeline for one of the many miniature tennis balls strewn around our backyard. Triumphantly, she trots back toward me, tennis ball in mouth, and drops it at my feet. Her tiny face looks up and her body quivers with anticipation waiting for the moment I lob the ball into the air. Kaiah, in a flash, turns and runs fast enough to jump into the air and catch the ball in her mouth. One of these days, I expect her to take flight.
Back to her other obsession Sophie Belle, the cat. Kaiah can leap onto Sophie’s back from several feet away and wrestle her to the ground in seconds. Sophie is tolerant until she isn’t. Recently, I was away for the weekend, and when I returned, my husband told me Kaiah had ridden the back of an unsuspecting neighborhood cat who had inadvertently gotten into the backyard. A few days later, I too, witnessed Kaiah zeroing in on said cat, who was a bit more aware of its surroundings this time. Kaiah was out the door like a shot from a pistol, racing toward the cat. Fortunately, the cat, channeling its inner Superman, leaped over the fence in a single bound and has never returned.
After dinner, when my husband and I settle in to watch TV, Kaiah sits atop the doggie bed, tennis ball in mouth. This is her signal to my husband that she is ready to play. Kaiah sets the tennis ball on the edge of the doggie bed and intently stares at the ball as if to move it with the power of her mind. When it doesn’t move, she nudges it ever so slightly and it rolls over to my husband. Kaiah, with the stealth of a ninja, crouches as she deliberately moves toward the ball. Her eyes on the prize, she gives my husband a few moments to toss the ball for her. If he doesn’t, up pops her tiny head and the scolding commences, usually followed by my husband sternly reminding Kaiah to use her inside voice. The ball is tossed and the game repeats until bedtime.
Dogs give us endless hours of joy…..