When my brother got a divorce 12-odd years ago (he’s 10 years older than me) the catalyst was the puppy he’d bought. I think this stuff is fairly common, you know, it was one toke over the line (Sweet Jesus!) and his ex-wife had enough.

(She was also a scathing bitch, so I was more than happy to see her go and reclaim my name. Her name was ALSO Rebecca and she took my last name when she married my brother. This effectively meant that there were two of us in the family, and she was the far nastier one).

The puppy was a German Shepard who came with a high pedigree, with both of her parents police pooches and my brother adored her. But he travelled a lot, and without a wife-y at home to help with the dog–Stanzi is her name–he couldn’t care for her. So, as many animals that my brother and I adopt, she moved in with my parents.

She grew from a neurotic puppy into a highly insane dog, climbing onto my mother’s lap–all 90 pounds of her–at the vet’s office and during thunderstorms, hiding from me whenever I’d come home, and playing ball with a devotion I’d never seen before. Our previous dogs had always been of the sweet but stupid variety, but not Stanzi, no never her. She continues to be freakishly clever and my parents have had to take all balls (except those attached to family members, of course) and hide them from her. Because if given a ball, she will play it relentlessly and obnoxiously.

If a ball is not available, she will bring whatever twig, rock, or toy over to you, sit down in front of you patiently waiting, her eyes darting back and forth between you and the ball, anxiously waiting your toss. I found out recently that this is a hallmark of Shepards, the police dogs are given not treats for good behavior, but ball-time. Something in their brain is hardwired to love this simple game at all costs.

It seems that however unlikely this may be as I don’t have The Sex with dogs, that Alex was born with a couple of these Shepard genes. While Ben also loved balls when he was a toddler, he would merely line them up exhaustibly, becoming mad and frustrated when the balls moved out of line (why he didn’t choose something less, oh I don’t know, ROUND, is beyond me).

Not Alex, though, Alex loves balls with an intensity I’ve never seen before. Maybe they remind him of his days at the boobs, or maybe he’s just destined to be a rugby player, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have a miniature Stanzi living in my house, bringing me balls pretty much at all waking points of the day.

He’ll crawl up to wherever any of us are sitting and depending on the size of the ball, it will either be clutched in his hand, making a twack noise–he looks like a wee pirate– when he determinedly crawls to wherever a Ball Player sits, or pushed in front of him as he crawls, bringing it dutifully to one of us. Alex then hoists himself up on one of our legs, ball in hand, or next to him and throws it in our laps.

Once we have possession of A Ball! he sits down with a diapery-plastic thump and crawls about three or four feet back, turns around, opens his legs and yells “BAAAAALLLLL!” The joy oozing from him at this point is palpable and honest.

Whomever his latest victim is will, depending on the ball size and weight, gently toss it to him or roll it towards him. He will scoop it up, hoist The Ball! over his head and whip it at us. This game of catch continues until Ben, The Daver or I get sick of playing, or until he has to go retrieve another ball (he has many). Then he will find his next victim and play with them until they are tired of it as well. Rinse, repeat.

What shocks me the most about it is that he’s actually really good at this game. The child born of a mother who has, in the past year alone, fallen through a door stone cold sober, broken a toe while making a peanut butter sandwich, sprained her ankle while walking down a flight of stairs. It’s safe to say that I am not coordinated. Nor, really, is my eldest (although he’s better than I am, but not by much) and The Daver is not exactly a ninja himself (sorry The Daver).

This leaves me with two viable opinions as to how Alex got to be so coordinated:

1. He’s actually someone else’s child and there was a horrible mix up in the nursery. Someone else has gotten my child who now stumbles into walls, crawls in horrible pathetic circles instead of a straight line, and pretty much will always look drunk.

2. Some previously unexpressed bundle of genes has expressed itself in Alex, and he may grow to be some sort of sports player (and not on the Special Olympics, which is probably the only place that the rest of us would qualify for. And I assure you that even there, we’d all get our asses kicked).

I’m not quite sure which of those options is correct, but since Alex wasn’t out of my sight much during his hospital stint (his insistence, not my own), I’d venture a guess that between this fact and the fact that he looks almost exactly like my father (shut up! Ew!) he’s probably my son.

Which means that I have quite the future ahead of me sitting on the sidelines (freakishly like my past!) and watching as my youngest plays all types of sports.

Maybe I’ll never understand his love for sports, maybe it doesn’t matter because I love him and that’s enough for us all, but hey, at least I’ll get a good tan.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

23 Responses to Like A Dog Loves A Bone

  • Sara says:

    Shepards have NOTHING on Shelties. No joke. Mini-Lassies are the WORST!

    I am there with you on my kids aren’t really my kids. Lucky for me, the hubby played soccer in high school, so we’ll force them to do that, while Mommy sits on the sidelines staring blankly at the field. I do NOT get soccer at all!

  • birdpress says:

    That sounds adorable! I am not very coordinated either and I hate sports, and so does my sweetie, which leads me to believe that if we ever do manage to have children we will probably end up with a little athlete too. God does have a sense of humor, you know!

  • Milk Maid says:

    Faith is the complete opposite- she can barely walk and I was the uber-sports child. At least you can tan on the sidelines… however, I look like a dolt making her pass me the water bottle and mop my brow. You don’t want a 10 year old girl, do you?

  • My sister in law has a shepard who likes to play ball until you fall over dead with exhaustion.

    He’s sweet but I’m growing to dislike him and the drool covered balls he drops in my lap. Over and over again. Because I’m the only one dumb enough to fall for his puppy eyes.

    Fric and Frac are both sports nuts. But then so were their father and I. So the apples don’t fall far from there trees round these parts.

    I’m the picture of grace and coordination.

    Heh.

    Quit laughing at me. It’s true. Kinda.

  • Becky – another winner – and you will love going to all those games. Thanks you for making me smile today.

  • Karen says:

    Maybe you have a future pro player on your hands. Nurture that raw talent and he might by you a Bentley some day.

    :)

  • tash says:

    My border/golden mix likes just kinda herding all the balls and frisbees and kids and shoes into a pile. My golden likes getting the ball (or sock, or hand) in his mouth and gnawing. At least shepherds get the “drop” thing.

    As long as the kid isn’t part Shepherd, I think we’re ok.

  • LaskiGal says:

    “broken a toe while making a peanut butter sandwich” you mean I am not alone? OK, I didn’t break a toe, but I am so uncoordinated. I run into stuff all the time. I trip. I fall. I look like a dork . . .

    This means there is hope for J yet.

    Um, I’m still wondering how you broke a toe while making a PB sandwich . . .

  • LAS says:

    Cute pictures!!

  • Kristen says:

    How blinkin’ cute is he?!
    I love the look in his eyes as he raises the ball over his head to throw. So a pitcher in training maybe?

  • Heather says:

    He is VERY cute (and he looks like he could raise a ruckus!). I especially like the next to the last picture. I have absolutely ZERO coordination and athleticism. E was holding out a lot of hope for The MAN to be uberathletic — I think he realizes now that it ain’t happening, but it looks like the Beans has her eye on the pigskin ’cause she has a wicked mean arm.

  • Heather P. says:

    HaHa! I am glad to see someone else who can stand up and fall down, although I have never broken a toe while making a PB sandwich, I regularly fall up stairs, and through doors. And yeah, I’m sober while doing it!
    Just be glad you don’t live over here in KY where basketball is the religion! He would be a prize recruit.

  • Ann says:

    My Ben and your Alex would be such good friends! Maybe we’ll see each other at the ball games one day. ;) He is absolutely adorable, girlie.

  • Kristine says:

    Such a cutie!

    Right now everything we see that is slightly round is a “Bahl Bahl.” (I’m not sure why the double.)

  • Jerseygirl89 says:

    Gosh, he is cute. Too bad we don’t live near each other, as Lovebug is also a great ballplayer (and loves to tackle and head butt) – we could sit on the sidelines together with a couple of flasks of vodka.

  • I’m dead serious, you have to bring this boy down to my house. He and Henry would have a … wait for it … ball. At 6:30 am this morning I found myself pitching foam balls to my three year old who was hitting home runs with a wooden slat.

  • b says:

    I’ll let you borrow my lab. They can play together for as long as they like. Neither of them will get tired of the ball. Plus, they are both very, very, cute!

  • pamajama says:

    Wow, he is so adorable. And I particularly enjoyed the part where you document all of your recent accidents. Hysterical!

    My daughter’s obsession is hide-n-seek. She always wanted me to tell her father when he’d return from work, “R is missing. Call the police. We’ve got to find her.” She’s 10 and still likes to hide. What the hell?

  • Gail says:

    Becks, maybe you’ll be lucky and have a child like Gabriel. He is freakishly athletically talented, and is convinced that he is going to play professional football someday. He just might, at that…

    But one day I was talking to him abou the fact that he will get his own house when he’s older. He insists that he won’t. He says he will go to his football games, and then he will come home and give me a kiss, and then I can make him supper.

    Great, thanks.

  • becky says:

    I had a shepherd mix growing up, and he used to crack us all up with his obsession for the ball. I used to only play frisbee with him (because it’s much easier not to get the slobber on you if you use a frisbee rather than a ball), and he loved that just as much.

    Ben is adorable! I’ve never seen a picture of him before. What a cutie :)

  • baseballmom says:

    OK, the Alex s strike again…mine is freakishly good at sports (he’s six and has the batting stance of a high schooler, and is a KILLER goalie) and very coordinated. My 12 year old has to work harder at being good at the sports he likes, and it PISSES HIM OFF. Your Alex is SO, SO cute…I just wanna squeeze those cheeks. We have a mastiff/lab/american bulldog mix who is a fool for playing ball/stick/toys. She will fetch ’til the cows come home, but our older purebred Lab won’t fetch at all. I have to play ‘get the puppy’ in the house with her toys all evening long (she calls all toys and balls her puppy). I finally bought a Chuckit so I don’t have to touch the slimy, icky tennis balls anymore–it saved my sanity!

  • Marly says:

    Hey, JJ is a retriever, too… as is our German Shepherd, Kasha. I wonder if it is a skill gained by osmosis. Did you spend a lot of time near Stanzi while pregnant with Alex? I wonder how rich and famous we could become by proving that link… ;)

  • Denise says:

    Seriously, how stinkin’ cute is he?! Looks like he’s got quite the arm.

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