Another blog in the series about cognitive decline in retirement. OK, agreed, getting out of the car wash while it was mid cycle is up there with the things idiots do but this episode also deserves some consideration for ‘most stupid’ prize. It also is worthy of the prize for shortest lived doggy toy. It happened like this. Friday was the day appointed for me to take delivery of my 2 new pairs of glasses. This meant a walk down to Headingley to pick them up. Then Mrs Summerhouse took a hand and fate right alongside her.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could walk the pups down to the shop to give them some experience of being on the lead near traffic – or in it I thought but did not say so, in the case of Archie. He has just been ignominiously been fitted with a new type of lead that is supposed to modify his ceaseless and maniacal pulling. It works to the degree such that Mrs SH is now willing / keen almost to walk with him on the lead. This is good because he remains a complete looney when off it. We did decide to proceed separately because the rogue Archie has a very negative effect on my own little princess. She who takes no notice of any human unless it suits her. We decided that I would go part through the park. I decided, and this is germane to the story, not to take the bright green throwing stick because, while it fits well into the park environment, one looks a pillock walking through the shops with it sticking out of one’s pocket. Perhaps a first hint of what was to follow came as Millie and I walked through the park on the way to the optician’s. As this is the place where we usually play ball she could not seem to understand why we weren’t playing now. No amount of me showing her my hands and saying ‘we haven’t got the ball’ seem to placate her. She can become very fixed on an idea at times. I made a mental note that after the optician’s I would perhaps buy another throwing stick so we could play, as usual, on the way back. Dogs like routine we are told.
So, as arranged, Mrs SH and I met at the optician’s, I picked up my new glasses (and a bobby dazzler as my grandma used to say, I looked too). OK, now for a new throwing stick from Wilkos. Off went Mrs SH to purchase the stick. Only one problem she said when she got back, they don’t sell them. Oh dear. But it’s OK because they have these, she said, proudly brandishing what appeared to be a ball on a rope. It reminded me a bit of the bollas – see above (except the South American version had 3 balls – mine, like Hitler, only had one – imagine)that gauchos in my comics used to use to whirl round and then when let go with unerring accuracy, would decapitate the target head at fifty paces. This idea was another mistake because it stayed with me.
Millie and I proceeded to the park while the boy Archie and Mrs SH made their way home via the road. We would meet up later, we agreed. So in the park I realised I didn’t have much of a technique with this new throwing arrangement. It was nowhere as efficient as the thrower thing. The ball travelled only a short distance and I remembered why I had been banned from the shot put at school for persistently throwing, or is it putting, the shot in the wrong direction? i.e. into the back netting rather than out on to the field. It’s the same with darts, my brain says let go now but my hands say – don’t think so, result, dart in floor or, worse, in foot. Same here, all these years later, remarkable. Not only did I get poor distance but direction wasn’t good either. At one point giving it many rotations and my best effort I actually threw the ball backwards. Millie, a bright dog, looked at me with pity in her soulful eyes, picked up the ball and walked into the shade of the trees and sat there with the ball between her front paws. Let’s give it one more try I suggested and once again pathetically launched the ball 10 or 15 feet. This time Millie picked up the ball (and of course the rope) and proceeded to the next, much bigger tree and same again lay in the shade with the ball between her paws.
Once more I picked up the ball, walked out from the shade of the tree and, in an effort to impress, gave the ball an almighty heave – straight into the upper branches of the tree – high up, irretrievable. I’ve included a diagram of the incident so you are in no doubt as to what transpired.
I looked at Millie and said, “whoops, I think we might have lost that”. She looked at me with her soulful eyes and the eyes said, “I do not believe what you have just done, you already knew that the ball can, indeed is likely, to travel backwards and yet, having had just that experience only a few minutes ago you have thrown it into a large tree. What kind of numb nuts are you?” Yes, I thought, you’ve got a fair point there. I looked at the ball and rope and of course this is where the attached rope really came into its own. Without the rope the ball would certainly have fallen to earth. With it it’s there for ever or until a tornado tears down the tree and no, this is not what I am hoping for.
So this is the shortest doggy toy, life on record. We’ve lost new balls before but none so briskly as this one. I calculate, and it’s not a big calculation, that it had about 6 throws before its sad demise. All I need to do now is meet up with Mrs SH and explain how her recently retired, rapidly becoming senile, husband has screwed up once more. Even Millie is tut tutting, but then it’s OK for her she has all her faculties.