The last you heard from Marley, our now 14-year-old chocolate lab, she was enjoying a large scoop of vanilla ice cream at a local ice cream stand (June 8, 2010 post). Marley is a little more gray, takes a little longer to go from laying down to up and walking, avoids steps when they can be avoided, and has added a few more fatty stomach tumors to her collection. However, food in her bowl still disappears in the matter of minutes; she still leads the way around the neighborhood on our daily walk, and still gives chase to the anxious squirrel or rabbit that wonders into our yard.
This past weekend was nice in the Northeast and the snow is finally starting to disappear (at least in our front yard, which gets more sun than our backyard). On Sunday, my kids, my husband and I broke out the softball gear and had an impromptu practice. We have invisible fencing that "prevents” Marley from going into the front yard. However, the transmitter on Marley’s collar stopped working late last year and we didn’t replace it.
But Marley doesn’t know that. So, Marley stood at the invisible fence boundary barking at us as we took turns batting. You could tell she really wanted to join in the chase of the big, yellow softball that was being tossed and hit about the front yard.
My 8-year-old daughter has a natural swing and can really launch the ball into the outfield. Sure enough, she did connect on one and sent it well into the neighbor’s yard. Before I was able to chase it down, the softball was intercepted by a big, brown blur that picked it up and ran it back to my husband who was pitching. I think this was the first time Marley had ever been in the front yard. She darted from shrub to shrub, taking in all the new smells that had eluded her for years. She also took the opportunity to leave her own scent as well as make a deposit on the front lawn. I started to yell at Marley and went over to corral her but then thought better of it. Why not let her enjoy this temporary freedom? So I let her be…let her chase down a few more long fly balls.
Eventually, she made her way back inside the invisible fence boundary, found a patch of grass in the backyard and fell asleep sunning herself on this warm spring day.
As I watched Marley sleeping in the sun that afternoon, I couldn’t help but wonder how many more warm spring afternoons we will enjoy together. I do know one thing, though, the next warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, we’ll help Marley into the back of the station wagon and head over to that favorite ice cream stand for another large scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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