We have a route that we walk with our four-legged family members each evening: down the sidewalk, across the street to the library parking lot, through the front of the library to the side garden with the sundial, down a small access road that is hardly used and around the town’s tennis courts, over a small wooden bridge, across another parking lot and back to the library. The dogs know it well.
Our walk takes about thirty minutes with plenty of time to sniff trees, grass, bushes and sign posts. On very special evenings, when no one is on the tennis courts, the dogs run free throughout the fenced-in areas. The best time to visit the courts is after a storm when the players have quickly vacated, leaving behind sodden, yellow tennis balls.
Charlie loves tennis balls. He clutches a ball between his paws and peels the fuzzy material away. He chases the balls, he catches the balls, and when we won’t play with him, he bats the balls as hard as he can with his nose and scrambles after them.
On this evening, in the pause between storms, Charlie happily collected fourteen precious tennis balls. The Englishman and I counted them each under Charlie's watchful eyes and put them in a shopping bag. As we strolled home, Charlie stayed by my side, nose up and happily leaping toward the bag that was dangling from my wrist. April 3rd was the best haul yet.