There can be only One…


Wet black dog, pale sofa… why should that be a problem?

2 a.m.. The grass is heavy with dew. Stars wheel overhead in an eternal dance, laughing at my inability to understand their pattern. An owl hoots, eerie in the inky silence and a strange, whimpering cry haunts the night… Is it my fault if I can’t find the damned tennis ball?

She’s lost it again. Well, not ‘lost’ exactly… I know where it is. She knows where it is. It is somewhere in the lawn, hidden by grass that is desperate for another cut. The lawnmower is unwell and unsafe and mowing is ineffective and will only done by absolute necessity until a replacement can be acquired.

And I do not fancy trudging through the deep, wet grass at this ungodly hour in the darkness, with the possibility of sleek, fat slugs meeting a squidgy end beneath my lace slippers.

It is not as if Ani does not have several other balls in play. There must be half a dozen in her plant pot and she also has a toy box full of toys, bones and treats that have been ‘saved for later’. Every so often she takes one outside, leaving it there overnight. Especially the large dental chews that I invested in, thinking she would enjoy them. Next morning, they are gone. The local foxes must have excellent teeth.

But as far as tennis balls are concerned, for Ani, there can be only One.

When that One is lost, she is bereft. Her distress is palpable. She will not play with any other toy nor accept any other ball. You can throw ten at once and she will just stand there and look at you reproachfully, knowing that her ball is not amongst them.

When a ball is lost beyond recall…and there have been a few… she mourns, crying and whimpering, ‘pointing’Β  to where she believes it went… which is usually accurate but doesn’t always help.


She may bring you a selection of balls, though she will not ‘fetch’ them if throw, watching their trajectory and turning to look back at you with utter sadness. These are just visual reminders of a problem she expects you to address. Her great brown eyes are effective…I have seen two grown men working together to retrieve a tennis ball that had cleared the fence and was out of reach, her joy at its return unmistakable. She will, if ball throwers are available, then play until she drops… which never happens…or bring it back to the sofa for careful grooming. The most disgusting ball will be clean by the time she is finished. If a little soggy.

Should all efforts fail and a ball be irretrievable, she will grieve for a while and eventually adopt a new ball…but not until she is absolutely certain that the old One will not reappear. Meanwhile, she makes you feel incredibly guilty…

I can’t help wondering about her fixation. She is seldom alone for long and enjoys human company. She is walked, has loads of toys…including me and any bird, postman, visitor or cat daft enough to come within barking/ball throwing range. She is well fed (though she won’t even eat until you have thrown the ball…) much-loved and well looked after. So what is this quirk that means it has to be just the One ball?

I know that part of the whole ball thing is communication. Without words, there is a laughing complicity when she brings you the special ball. Maybe, given the grooming, it is her pup-substitute or security blanket? There are all kinds of rituals she has devised that have to be observed involving the ball…and all kinds of games. The latest is hide and seek involving me getting flat on my belly or shifting furniture. So I understand that part of it is her way of getting my undivided attention. But that still doesn’t explain the Only One.

Still, all these unanswered questions do not alter the one inescapable fact. Slugs or not, I’m going to have to rescue the damned ball…



About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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52 Responses to There can be only One…

  1. Mary Kendall says:

    Sue, your posting made me smile a very big smile. I have an eight year old yellow lab who LIVES to fetch. She obsesses over fetching. For Katy, any tennis ball will do…and two at a time is fine, too. Isn’t it fascinating to see our fur babies in action with all their little personality quirks? Ani is precious and clearly a well loved pet. Your comment about a black dog on a light sofa hits home, too. Mine is a pale golden colour and we have a deep red sofa, so her fur is very apparent. Thanks for sharing your delightful story on your blog. All the best, Mary πŸ™‚


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Yes, Ani will fetch all day…and night… given half a chance. But only the Ball.I shouldn’t complain ( or so she tells me) about the fur and footprints on her sofa… because she sees it as HER sofa, not mine…and the covers wash πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. treerabold says:

    Oh those eyes, that face….so expressive! I can see why you risk the slugs to find her one ball!!


  3. This post made me smile, though I feel for you having to search in the long wet grass at 2am in your lace slippers. Oh my. That dog is so loved. πŸ™‚


  4. I feel for her … and for you. Those eyes press every dog lover’s guilt button. Our dogs blame us for everything because we are god and there, everything is our fault, our responsibility. They have faith in us, so when thing don’t go the right way, it has to be because theri gods have failed. Maybe she’ll find it yet.

    I think all pets have a favorite thing — or spot. At least, ours always have … and each one is different. We had a cat who was fixated on a set of electric trains. When we took them down and put them away, he sat outside the closet and moaned for weeks. Really.

    Gibbs has a place. It’s his sofa, or at least the left side of it. No person or dog can be there except him … even if he isn’t there. Bonnie has her cushions. She battles them, loves them. They are her children and her mortal enemies.

    I wish both of your the very best of luck πŸ™‚


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I wouldn’t mind, Marilyn… by ‘somewhere in the grass’ I mean aboit three yards from the door…she just hates cold wet grass on her paws at bedtime πŸ˜‰ I can sympathise with that entirely…


  5. Ritu says:

    Aw those eyes!!!!


  6. KL Caley says:

    One human’s identical tennis ball is a dog’s ultimate treasure…lol. But I suppose a replica will not replace what the heart truly wants, I think it just goes to show how loyal and intelligent dogs really are! KL ❀


    • Sue Vincent says:

      And how single minded and stubborn some of them can be πŸ˜‰ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • KL Caley says:

        Haha – well I wonder where they learn that from? hehe! We wouldn’t have them any other way. My little one being an old lady at 14 now has recently taken to barking at the bin during walks in the dusk/dark – god knows what she thinks it is but she will not leave the field until she has gone over to investigate and had a good mumble at it – haha. KL<3


  7. barbtaub says:

    Peri feels the same about her Ball. There must be 20 of them in the garden but I still have to crawl into the rose bushes if the One disappears.


  8. adeleulnais says:

    Dante has “the one” as well. His is a battered and torn old red plastic “nerf” toy called Mr. Nerf. (I`m a writer really) and if this goes missing in action omg do we suffer. So, I sympathise and hope that you do not tread on many slugs. We love our doggies.


  9. Mary Smith says:

    Sue, you of all people should accept that explanations regarding the ‘Only One’ are often hidden from us.
    I hope you didn’t squish too many slugs.


  10. jenanita01 says:

    Oh Ani, so adorably stubborn, as always!


  11. It might just be their version of a security blanket. They all seem to favor that special piece. But, at 2 am….ugh ! She has you so well trained, Sue. But how could you resist ??? ☺


  12. noelleg44 says:

    Another quirky side to Ani’s personality. It’s not unknown among humans either – witness my son’s fixation when he was little on a blue blanket. You correctly analyzed this as some form of comfort for her – and despite Ani’s sad expression, I chuckled all the way through.


  13. Widdershins says:

    Someone told her about the Lord of the Rings πŸ˜€ … may your lace slippers survive the adventure.


  14. dgkaye says:

    Ani may be a fusspot, but I’m with her. If I’m missing something, anything, I’m on it like FBI, lol. πŸ™‚


  15. Denis1950 says:

    An amazing story Sue, I don’t think we get close to knowing how a dog’s intelligence really works.


  16. Eliza Waters says:

    Such a pampered pup πŸ˜€ It does sound like a puppy substitute, something to care for and groom, and mourn when it is lost. It was bad enough trying to keep track of my boy’s favorites (though I was a lot younger then). This is not much different!


  17. Those eyes just melt my heart.xx to you both.


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