Today Ellie made me feel a right wally. She is particularly fond of a special ball, a blue one with a triangular tip, making it bounce unpredictably. Our local fields have ressembled a swamp recently, so I took her to the village recreation ground which was less waterlogged. In one corner there is a double tennis-court (normally locked) and two astro-turfed enclosed football courts, where a bunch of teenagers were behaving normally; swearing, smoking, dropping litter and even playing a little football…

Ellie and I were having fun. With my ball-flinger and a swirling wind, the ball was flying – and so was she, until a particular gust took the ball high and over the fence into the tennis court….

A lot of whining and pawing the fence ensued; even the dog did the same. How could we get the ball back ?
Luckily the fence had a lot of give in it so I grabbed the base and heaved skywards hoping Ellie would go through and retrieve her favourite toy. But no; she stuck by me. I could have thrown a fillet steak in there and she would have remained – what a loyal hound !

Then a brilliant idea. One of the teenagers was sufficiently puny to get through the hole I had formed so off we went to the group to single him out. After expaining my dilemma he followed me out and over to the tennis court where I once again grabbed the base and heaved…

With eyes bulging and bowels about to explode I was stopped in my tracks by one of the older boys who arrived with the question “what the hell are you doing?”
“I’m using your little pal to crawl through the fence for the ball” I explained. With that the spotty youth looked at me up and down with disdain, then walked to the tennis-court gate – and opened it…..

I am sure some dogs can smile – tongues out, eyes sparkling. Anyway, Ellie can…..