Sunday, October 03, 2004

Conservation of Dog Toy Mass/Energy

Apparently there is some natural physical law concerning the quantity of mass of dog toys in the back yard. I hadn't realized it before, but, like Newton, I experienced a dramatic demonstration of the natural law in my very yard yesterday.

The ideal toy. Blue version.

Prehistory

First, we must detour to about 5 months ago. I had a couple of nifty latticework rubber balls, one red, one blue, about 6 inches in diameter, each containing a squeakie ball. These turned out to be the ideal Jakie toy: A squeakie that he could still squeak but that he couldn't tear to shreds when unsupervised, a ball that you could easily throw and that would bounce a bit and roll enticingly, and yet a lovely toy for playing tug that both dog and mortal could grasp easily.

On the Hunt

Well and so, about 5 months ago, the red one vanished. Toys often vanish around here--Casey loves to have a toy in his mouth, but he is also wont to drop it wherever he happens to be standing at the moment that he has some other thought about what to do with his mouth, and he seldom goes back and gets the toy in the same thought process event. I'm constantly retrieving toys from behind the shrubs, behind the waterfall, over in the side yard by the recycling bin, over in the other side yard behind the shed, in the middle of the flower bed, on top of the compost pile (don't ask), and so on. Often the retrieval involves hands and knees. Finding and retrieving Casey's dropped toys could be a full-time job if it paid a little better.

And he's particularly fond of taking the other dogs' favorite toys when they have a moment of disattention. So I was pretty sure that Casey must have taken the red one and dropped it in some place that we mere mortals would not occur to look, let alone put our little canine bodies into with a mouth full of toys. Back then, I wandered all over the house & yard looking for it.

On about three other occasions, I made concerted hard-core efforts to find the red one--moved everything I could think to move, peered under everything that I could imagine had an under to it, shoved my arms and head INTO various shrubberies to see whether it had gotten caught on, among, or behind branches. Pulled the Aframe forward from where it's leaning against the fence--that's where we found his missing collar after a couple of months, but I was pretty sure we had narrowed the gap to where even Casey couldn't enter, and indeed there was no collection of dog toys back there. Mangled myself on the blackberry vines just to be sure it hadn't gotten lost in the bramble. Went into parts of my yard that I never dare go because there are spiders and things.

My final conclusion was that perhaps some visiting child or guest had tossed the red one over the fence somewhere and, if no one had returned it by now, it would never see the light of day again.

Handing Myself Over to Fate

Therefore, finally, last week, I gave up. Now, although I still had the blue one, I always like to have a backup version of Favorite Toys because the one I expect to be around occasionally goes walkabout (see also, "Casey loves to have a toy in his mouth," etc.) and then I and the dogs can do nothing but pout for days until it reappears. Hence, backup versions. SO I went to the dog store, paid an exhorbitant amount for *two* rubber latticework balls (because the blue one is already torn in one spot and is acting a bit creaky), and added the new purple one to the collection of backyard toys.

You know that getting a new one tempts the hand of fate, right?

Tika's Toy Ties In

Shortly thereafter, Tika's favorite teal Jollyball (about 6" in diameter, with handle until Casey removes it, see previous posts in this blog) started exhibiting signs of having had enough. All those months of tug-o-war and dog chomping have sliced myriad tiny slits into its surface, and several of them finally banded together into one large slice near the handle side of the ball. I hate throwing away a Jolly Ball that still has nominally a handle, but yesterday afternoon, while we were out playing (pre-Dogwalk move), Tika chomped hard on it, her nose and upper jaw went right into the large slot, and it grabbed right down onto her schnozz, harder as she tried to pull her nose out, and she looked a little panicked.

I just happened to have a brand-new Jolly Ball, bright purple, waiting in the garage. SO I set aside the holy (sic) teal ball, got out the new purple one to Tika's quivering delight, and played with her for a few minutes. Then I returned to the garage for a few seconds to get my tape measure to begin measuring the yard for the dogwalk moval. (OK, come on, if you can have a REmoval, you've first got to have a moval, right?) As I came out of the garage, Tika was kind of shaking her head to one side as if something were in her ear. I *think* she had the purple jollyball in her mouth at the time, but I really don't remember clearly. I called her over to me to look in her ear. A bit dirty, didn't see anything, but kind of rubbed it and scraped it with my finger and sure enough got a tiny bit of grass. Then I had to scritch her a bit and she had to rub her head around a bit.

Another Vanishment, More Mysterious Still

Then we couldn't find the brand new purple jolly ball. It's purple, right? So it's not going to be hard to see among all of the green shrubberies and such. I kept prompting her to find it, and she bounded all over the yard and even into the house, looking for it, to no avail. I eventually joined the hunt, and we looked and looked and looked. I even went back into the garage, although I was pretty sure that she hadn't followed me in. I crawled under shrubberies (found several Casey-deposited toys even though he's been out of town for 4 days), looked behind all the furniture, even sent the dogs through the tunnels in case it had somehow gotten in there, looked in the ground cover on the one side of the yard.

How is it *possible* for a bright purple 6" diameter brand new ball to vanish while it's allegedly in plain sight of an allegedly intelligent human and two toy-motivated dogs? I can only begin to describe my level of frustration. Eventually I had to relent to the "It'll Show Up Eventually If I Pretend To Ignore It" strategy, got out the old cruddy teal ball again, and continued playing with the dogs while beginning the arduous dogwalk-move episode.

Little did I realize that the purple jollyball was merely a sacrifice in the conservation of dog-toy matter.

A Revelation From Above

So there I was, rapidly moving towards exhaustion, sweat trickling down my delicate feminine form, 400 pounds of dogwalk in my hands, lifted forward and above my head to get it between the tree limbs, struggling to drag it against the clutching tufts of lawn grass just another couple of inches so I could rest it on the branch AND simultaneously trying to lift it just another six inches, and as I shoved and yanked and looked up to see what was preventing the dagratted thing from going UP--what to my wondering eyes should appear, lodged in the very highest center branches among the foliage of the apple tree, but a red rubber latticework ball.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Casey didn't put it there.

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