Dog Ball Obsession

(Hm. Maybe I should rephrase that title…)

LOST: One tennis ball. Formerly yellow, now the color of dirt. Slimy. Smells PERFECT. If found please return to Gordon the Labradoodle. Reward!

The thing I feared most happened. Our labradoodle, Gordon, lost the tennis ball we call “Number One.”

Number One Ball was the only tennis ball our obsessive-compulsive chocolate Doodle would use.

Don’t let his finicky nature make you believe that Gordon is nonchalant about his ball play in any way. Gordon LOVES to play fetch. Probably in the grand scheme of things his favorite things in the world are:

  1. Treats
  2. Playing fetch, going for walks or otherwise exercising
  3. Shade
  4. Mommy and Daddy

My husband I come just under shade. He gets hot easily and transforms into a shade seeking missile that even we can’t stop.

Told you I'd get it!

But as much as Gordon LOVES to play ball, it has to be with Number One Ball. No other ball will do. You could throw him 57 balls and he will sniff them all until he finds Number One Ball. You can throw him Number One 10 times in a row, with him eagerly bringing it back each time, then slip in what appears (to my stupid human nose) to be an identical ball, and he will refuse to fetch it. He will just sit in front of you, until you admit you have Number One.

Gordon has been known to bring Number One into the house and sleep with it like a teddy bear. You’ll see him napping somewhere cool and then you notice there is a dirty tennis ball nestled between his dream-twitching paws. You can be sitting at your desk, happily typing along, and Gordon will bring Number One into the office and DRIBBLE IT (dropping and picking it up repeatedly to get your attention) until you go play ball with him. If you make him leave Number One outside when he doesn’t feel quite tired enough (Tongue on the ground? What tongue on the ground, nooo… I’m fiiiine… throwtheballthrowtheballthrowtheball..) he will sit and stare at it through the sliding glass door.

Alas, Number One mysteriously disappeared. We’ve looked EVERYWHERE. For days Gordon refused to play ball and just wandered sadly around the yard, sniffing, searching for Number One. A week later, out of sheer desperation, he’s resorted to playing fetch with an old lacrosse ball we inherited on a walk one day, but it just isn’t the same.

Wondering if this was a Labradoodle trait in general, I posted the question on a vibrant little Doodle Chat site called “Doodle Zoo” to see if other Doodle’s were as in need of Lexapro as Gordon.  Apparently, he isn’t alone. In fact, there’s a Doodle girl named Millie who trumps him. Her mother Bev wrote:

ABSOLUTELY! That is EXACTLY what Millie does.

Glad to hear there is another doodle who is as ‘weird’ as Millie!!…
AND to go one step further. She ONLY plays with balls that have already been mangled/ripped by another dog. If the ball is fully intact, she has no interest in it. She never chews up balls herself and doesn’t further chew her current ‘favorite’, so it will last for weeks and weeks, but eventually becomes so ruined that it is useless and it has to go. Then she’ll sulk for days until she chooses a new favorite. Drives us CRAZY. The only good thing is that I haven’t bought balls in years. She just finds discards at the park and brings them home.
And one other thing that I find totally BIZARRE is that the “ball” she chooses to bond with doesn’t even have to be a ball. It can be a little tiny piece of an old ball. She seems to think I can actually throw that for her!! I have to disabuse her of that idea quickly. Sometimes she even thinks a bit of tennis ball fluff is a good plan. Sorry pup – no go!
And one more little quirk – she prefers her balls to be kicked not thrown. She’ll still go for it if it’s thrown (but not always) but just LOVES it when you kick them. She tries to play “blocker” and not let it past her. Sometimes she gets them smack in the face but it doesn’t bother her.

So there you go. Not so weird after all is my little man. Millie makes Gordon look as stable as the Dalai Lama. (Who, I am told, rarely plays fetch – but when he does, is open to tennis balls of any condition or color.)


Amy Vansant

2 Responses

  1. Otis

    Don’t feel bad, Gordon. Mike lost his a long time ago and is still a viable organ donor


  2. Amy Vansant

    NEWSFLASH! #1 BALL HAS BEEN FOUND! Gordon just showed up with it in his mouth. We think it was probably under Mike’s desk. He’s about as happy as a labradoodle can get now! Call off the search!



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