We have a new puppy that is only about 4 months old. She is a black Lab/Newfoundland cross, so she is already pretty good sized. Sasha has boundless energy, and she wants to be involved in everything.
That is why, when my two little girls decided that they wanted to play baseball together in the back yard, she was right there ready to join them. She didn’t know anything about baseball, or the rules of the game, but she did know that they had a tennis ball and a thing that looked like a stick, and those are two of her favorite toys.
Sasha watched curiously as my two daughters marked the play area and laid out the bases. Heather was first up to bat, so when everything was set, she took up her position. Elli moved over to the pitching spot. She threw the ball, and Heather swung and missed. Immediately, Sasha, who had already learned about fetching, was there to retrieve it. She picked it up and trotted back to Elli with the ball in her mouth.
“Thank you, girl,” Elli said, reaching for the ball.
Sasha has learned to fetch, but she hasn’t learned to give up what she fetches. A slight tug-of-war ensued until Elli pulled the ball from Sasha’s mouth. When she finally did get the ball, her grin turned to a grimace.
“Ooh, yuck!” Elli said. “The ball is all covered with dog slobber. Don’t blame me if I throw a spit ball.”
After shaking off what drool she could, Elli tossed the ball once more, and once more Heather missed. Immediately, Sasha was there to retrieve it. When Elli complained again about the ball, Heather said, “At least we don’t need a catcher.”
On the next toss, Heather hit the ball in a nice arc across the yard. Sasha took off after it. She retrieved it and headed back at full speed toward the girls. Seeing Heather running, Sasha seemed to assume she was coming after the ball, so she headed for Heather, still carrying the ball in her mouth.
Heather saw Sasha coming at her as she ran toward the base, and started yelling, “No, Sasha! No!” But the more she yelled, the more Sasha thought that she was running to get the ball. Sasha caught up to Heather and ran right into her path, causing Heather to tumble over her.
“Tagged out,” Elli declared. Heather didn’t feel that was correct call.
In their normal game, with only two of them, if they could get to one of the bases, they got to go back and bat again. Heather finally agreed to the out, and Elli moved to take a turn at bat.
Heather tossed the ball a couple of times before Elli hit it, while Sasha played catcher and retriever. Heather received no empathy from Elli for the slobbery ball.
When Elli hit the ball, it was almost directly back to Heather. Heather picked it up before Sasha could, and both girls raced for first base. Sasha wasn’t sure what they were doing, but she decided that first base was place to go, so she joined in the chase.
Sasha arrived just ahead of the girls, and thinking the base was the object they were after, she picked it up and took off with it. Unable to touch the base, Elli chased after her, yelling at her to drop it. A game of tag ensued, in which Heather eventually caught up to Elli and tagged her out with the ball.
“That’s no fair,” Elli complained. “Sasha moved the base.”
They played for quite a while, with Sasha changing the rules for them as they went. When I arrived home, they came running in to greet me, and to tell me about their game.
“So, who won?” I asked my two tired girls.
Their mother, who had watched the game through the window, was the one to answer.
“Sasha did, by a nose.”
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at da***@da*********.com“; or visit his website )