Those who are dedicated readers, and those who have met Gopher, know that there are few things in this world that he loves more than chuck it. The bounds, leaps and dancing he performs in expectation of the first throw would be the envy of most ballet companies, if he wasn’t quit so lumbering and awkward that is, he is not the most coordinated and graceful. I have share this video a number of times on this blog, but here is Gopher enjoying a little chuck it time.
As much as he loves chuck-it in all its wonderful forms with various balls for distance, and effect, he loves nothing more than a fresh new tennis ball out for its first time. His eyes have a little extra sparkle, and the golden smile is just a bit wider, and his tail wags even harder. This morning I paused and I looked at the fresh new tennis ball I pulled out for him. It isn’t anything too special; it is still bright yellow almost fluorescent without a smudge of dirt. The ball is fully pressurized still smells of the natural rubber of which it is made, and it bounces higher than an older or used ball. The felt is still raised and not flattened by hundred of throws and retrievals, and it is not valuable. The cost of production is low and depending on a few variables could retail for as little as 90 cents to five dollars. To Gopher though that new ball is among the most valued items available in his world, one he does not like to give up when presented unless the chuck it is in hand.
When playing chuck it with a new tennis ball Gopher will run with a pinwheel tail showing his extra excitement, on older balls it is wagging, but not the full pinwheel he saves for special occassions, like seeing his favorite humans. When he retrieves an older ball he merely runs back with it in his mouth maybe adjusting it a few times, but a new ball he rolls throughout the retrieve the new felt creaking on his teeth with each roll in the mouth. In a quiet park you can hear, ‘creaka, creaka, creaka’ the entire distance.
I do not know for certain, but I have a feeling that the feeling I get from seeing this is similar to that of a parent, watching a child and their wonderment at the world. It is a great reminder, even though I pride myself on remembering the little things, how truly important the little pleasures in life are, and how they make even the most seemingly insurmountable problems seem less significant. So Gopher and I challenge you to play with whatever your idea of a new tennis ball would be and remember the little pleasures in life.