Given the option, it seems Willow will keep playing forever. Once she gets it into her head that it’s time to chase a ball, she will chase and retrieve, chase and retrieve, over and over again.
And she won’t take “enough” for an answer. If the ball is within my reach – and often when it isn’t – if it doesn’t appear that I’m interested in pitching it, she will lie in wait with her tail pointed in my direction, ready to pounce on anything tossed over her head, whining. And whining. And whining. Until finally, I reach down and toss the ball. So she can chase. And retrieve. And chase … Inevitably she will convince me to throw the ball at least a few more times than I thought I wanted to.
Yesterday was our first walk in a new place, and Willow did her usual dance once connected to the leash. She will grab the tether with her teeth and make a show of trying to chew through it, while dancing and prancing around me. After a few moments she settles into the rhythm of the walk — except, of course, for when she is stopping to investigate interesting odors on the ground.
It wasn’t long before we both were walking along the path at a brisk pace, and I reflected how good she was at this unnatural task of traveling while attached to a long rope-like device. How good she is at chasing the ball or her beloved orange disk. How well she stays close enough when we are walking our property without the leash, and how well she knows that “Willow, come!” means she needs to run to my side.
“Willow,” I said, “I can’t think of anything you’re not good at — except maybe quitting.”
And there, I realized, was the business/life lesson to be learned from the puppy today: Be good at what you do. Be good at everything except maybe quitting. It’s the secret to her success.