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Dog and Ball

Lucie wants to chase the ball. And she wants me throw it. But there’s just one problem—she doesn’t want to give me the ball.

At first, she didn’t want to bring it back. After a while, she learned how to do that. But then she didn’t want to give it up. She would even drop it but as soon as I reached for it she would pick it up and walk away with it. She would repeat this strange act of ambivalence a number of times. If I showed indifference she might lose her concentration and leave it unguarded and I would pick it up, throw it, and she would chase it and the whole thing would start all over again.

I’m a human psychologist, not a dog psychologist, so I’m not sure what’s going on inside her head, but if it’s anything like mine and yours I would say she wants to give up the ball but she doesn’t want to give up the ball. To get the fun of chasing the ball she has to surrender the ball--giving up the very thing she wants. That’s a dilemma that leads to the strange action of keeping the ball away from me and preventing the very thing she wants from happening.

This is deep stuff. It’s like breathing. You want breath, but once you breathe you only get more breath by first letting go of what you have. Then your lungs are empty and ready for some new breath.

Or it’s like love. When I taught preschool we used to sing: “Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.”

I think Lucy understands this about love but not about balls. She gives her love freely and it expands synergistically. But balls bring out her materialistic nature and sense of scarcity. It’s a hard life lesson that to get, you have to give. She’s also learning that she already has enough—you only need one ball to play the game.

Maybe it’s like loving and losing, or living and dying. Every time we love something, we will suffer its loss. She dies a little every time she gives up the ball, but she’s born again every time she receives it.

We’re learning together while playing this game of life. I’m a human and lost in thoughts. I reflect on things probably more than she does. Lucie’s a dog, she just wants to play. She stares at me, then at the ball, wiggling with anticipation, so I snap out of my head space, toss the ball, and smile as I watch her chase it with pure delight.

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