There are three red rubber Kong balls for the Jack and Deuce, the labs. Some days all three are missing. Not under any stick of furniture, stuck in a corner or anywhere in the yard. I check possible hiding spots. I found one once in a rotted hole in a tree stump. She's also put one in the vent thingys that come from underneath the crawlspace of our house.
Other than that, she's better than a packrat. After a few days, a ball will magically appear in the middle of the yard. No indication of where it had been. Now and then, all three emerge. Those days are the best because I have a fair chance of playing one ball/one dog.
It usually doesn't work out because Deuce, the youngest of the pack can run to the back of the yard to catch her pop fly then race back in time to catch the second ball headed for the home plate.
Jack the sweetest dog who ever lived as learned that even if the ball is within inches of his mouth, he'd do better to step to the side before the furry cannonball crashes into him. It happened once, Jack's mouth was open his paw/eye coordination was deadly accurate. Out of nowhere this black blur flies through the air with a body slam that sent poor Jack flipping twice.
I rushed to Jack while I screamed and scolded Deuce My words didn't faze Deuce, who strutted around like she caught the last ball to win the World Series.
So what kind of mischief can the Beagle bring to the party? First, she's low to the ground. I would have thought she'd be slower given the larger strides of the big dogs. For her, it's an advantage. Her belly skims across the Earth as those pencil-length legs kick up dust underneath her.
She can catch a bird in mid-air. Let's not talk about the squirrels.
It doesn't matter if Deuce or Jack catch the ball. She immediately launches into attack mode. Poor Deuce will stand in the back yard with the ball in her mouth while the beagle stands back a few feet. Every time Deuce tries to move one way, so does the Beagle. It's a canine game of tag with a snarling 40-pound chunk of willpower. If Deuce makes a run for it, Beagle gets up under her neck with a growling/biting action not meant to hurt, per se, but definitely to winkle that ball out of Deuce's mouth Sometimes Deuce gets around her, but then the Beagle follows him like a pilot fish under a shark.
If Deuce tries to drop the ball, the beagle will pounce on it, so Deuce wanders the yard looking for a safe place. I trail behind trying to coax Deuce into bringing it to me, which she will never do. But, she will drop it in front of her while she pretends to be interested in a pecan or stick.
She does that so Jack can pick it up and bring it to me. It's as if Deuce doesn't want to appear like she's surrendering by giving the ball to me. If Jack isn't quick enough, the Beagle pounces and trots away with the ball, her tail twirling like a helicopter propeller. The labs trot along behind her while I do my obligatory walk behind them and say, "bad beagle." She loves that name. She walks just fast enough to be out of reach. When she finally stops, she rolls over on her belly so I can pay the toll of rubbing the belly to collect the ball.
I make a short toss to Jack. His mouth is open; the ball's in the proper trajectory to hit the spot when a furry secret service agent flies in front of Jack to grab the ball and take whatever assassin's bullet might be headed that way.
Later on, the balls will disappear into a Beagle stash. One day, I hope to find this cute hair barrette, my blush brush, a skein of yarn and a toothbrush I liked. Until then, we must endure her arrogant prance around the yard while we look like chumps.