I was upset the other night. While looking for a flea collar for Bobby I came across some arthritis medicine I'd bought for Peggy, and a ball that Kevin had bought for him and forgotten to give him. Started crying again. But it got me to thinking about how much he liked to play with balls.
When I first got him as a pup I lived in Carrington. We were there for 2-3 weeks and I didn't have a backyard, only a tiny front yard with no fence and a front veranda. I used to walk him but most times we were inside. It was a pretty intense time as he wasn't properly house trained. Anyway, we used to play a game where he'd lie with his head under the sofa and I'd gently roll a tennis ball past him and he'd try and grab it. When we moved to Barnsley there was a huge backyard to play in, though initially we didn't use much of it. I bought a rubber ring and used to roll it along the concrete path and he'd grab it. That lasted until he discovered he could chew it to bits. Then I'd throw sticks, tennis balls and roll the odd old bicycle tyre.
Then one day when we were walking past the sports ovals, I found a #9 basketball left in a gutter. No one had obviously missed it, so I took it home and started using it to play with Pegasus. Most times I'd stand downhill and he'd push the ball down the gentle slope. Then I'd kick it past him and he'd try and intercept it. He was a "soccer dog" and once when we walked past the local soccer team practising kicking goals, he intercepted the ball in play much to the amusement of the team.
When he was younger he'd be back in the grassy area and I'd kick the ball with some force. Every so often I'd accidentally kick it into next door's, or it's bounce off Peggy's nose there as well. On those occasions I didn't like to enter their property - I'd use a dead branch / long railing / jerry-rigged contraption (bits of the above with a looped hose and kid's hoe attached to the end) to get it back. I also added a piece of time at one spot on the left side fence which would bounce the ball back in our yard.
There used to be a small tree/bush on the back left side of the grassy area - vines from next door would grow over it. However, I accidentally kicked the ball into so much that I think I killed it! When I got the Muscovies, and would let them out to graze each day, I swapped to a smaller #5 ball. The idea was that it'd be less dangerous if it hit one of them. In fact it did hit one and after a 5 second delay the duck fell over! I also hit Gabby accidentally once in the face. She was not impressed. But there was no permanent damage done to either, and the pets learnt to stay out of the way.
As Peggy got old, I toned down the force with which I kicked those balls, and the strategy became one of trying to get it past him in a narrow space. Instead of being at the back of the grassy area, he stood at the top of the path, much closer. He was so used to me that I must have been predictable. Sometimes he'd get tired or bored. Pegasus loved playing with Kevin though and vice versa. Kevin however has hypermobility in one leg, so those sessions were usually brief. Pity.
And lastly there was the arrival of Hallie. This complicated things because she'd sometimes steal his ball from him. Other times she'd be standing there blocking his efforts of rolling it, or discover a torn bit of old ball (he must have gone through at least 20 of them) and come up and play a tug of war with him over it (they both loved that).
I always loved playing ball with Pegasus. He was still playing ball up to a couple of days before he died. I buried the ball he was currently using with him, and gave the "spare" I had in reserve to Hallie. She's not quite a "soccer dog" yet, but between Kevin and me playing with her, she might be one day.