One of the major challenges that faced my siblings and me, as we played in our backyard, was the fact that we kept losing the ball over the wall. The kind of ball, kickball, baseball, or tether ball, didn’t matter; they all ended up over the wall. The ball would inevitably end up in one of three yards adjacent to ours, and all three yards were home to what would eventually become the reason for the challenge; a dog, or in one instance, three dogs. It became not a matter of just scaling the wall, but once on top of the wall, we had to answer this question: “How do we get our ball back without being killed by that dog?” We spent many moments in serious contemplation and planning, but would eventually figure out an acceptable plan. Here is one such example as excerpted from the book, Little Heathens.
The neighbor behind us had a dog too. This dog was a bit larger than the Chihuahuas and was much more aggressive and faster. He was black and white (a Cocker Spaniel), very thick fur, and his bite was worse than his bark. When the ball went over the wall into this dog’s yard, we had to work on our strategy. You couldn’t just climb down the wall into the back yard, because before your foot hit the ground this dog was all over you, tearing you to pieces. He was a smart dog, always hiding behind bushes, beside the house, wherever he could conduct his surveillance. It didn’t matter what time of day it was, you could not get a foot down and that dog was right there, no bark, just wooosh!, he was there. We weren’t about to let any dog outsmart us, however. Our plan was brilliant. If the ball was on the east end of the yard for example, one of us would go to the west end of the yard and begin the climb down. This time we had him fooled. While the decoy was on the west end, the other kid was on the east end where the ball was located. The decoy never intended to set foot in the yard, but the strategy was effective. The dog ran over to the kid on the west end and in the meantime the other kid would quickly jump down, grab the ball and be back up on the wall before the dog knew what hit him. Then we would sit on the wall, stick our tongues out and make fun of the dog. If nothing else could be said about us, we were smarter than a dog, at least on this occasion.
At least we thought we were smarter than the dog, and I guess in this instance we were. However, looking back at the situation, I have to wonder, wouldn’t it have been smarter to walk around to the front of the neighbor’s house, knock on the door, and politely ask for our ball? No dog to worry about! One thing that can be said for our approach is that the strategic planning and avoidance of danger did prepare us for the junior high experience that would take place not that many years down the road.
Your copy of Little Heathens can be found here, https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781625102034