Bil Browning

31 Days: One-Dog-Only Soccer

Filed By Bil Browning | August 23, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: dog plays with balloons, dog stories, dogs and balloons, Fritz

This photo's backstory is after the break.


I'm doing a series of posts for 31 days that will feature a photo from my personal collections and the backstory behind the picture. I'm trying to stick with shots that have not appeared on the site before. I'm using the stories as a writing exercise to help me prepare for writing a book. You can find the rest of the series posts here:

Fritz was my little buddy. I'd "rescued" him one night while I was delivering pizzas and that made me number one in his world for the rest of his life. I mean, my proximity to pizza made me number one in his world, that is. Shortly before Fritz died, I wrote about the pup's adoption and love for pizza here on the site. He was also a chocoholic, but that's a different story too.

In Fritz's world, balloons were his mortal enemy. A balloon turned Fritz from a rat terrier into a soccer player. He'd stand on his back legs and bounce the balloon off of his nose back into the air only to meet it again when the balloon floated close enough for him to reach. He'd climb over furniture, people or pets to get to that balloon and then shake it back and forth violently so it banged against both sides of his head before throwing it back into the air to start all over again.

I had a birthday party in the mid-90s and my then-boyfriend blew up a lot of balloons as part of the festivities. He locked Fritz in another room, threw them around the living room, and started to greet guests as they arrived. Soon after everyone got comfortable, Fritz started to whine and scratch at the door.

We tried to ignore it for as long as possible. We tried yelling for him to stop. Whistling, clapping our hands, and snapping our fingers didn't work either. If I opened the door to chastise him and wave my finger sternly, the whining was twice as loud as soon as I closed the door behind me. Eventually we gave in and let him out to mingle.

The response was hilarious.

Fritz ran into the middle of the room to ham it up for the guests, pick out the easiest mark and proceed with Operation Get Lovin'. This was a well-oiled act that was followed with the Belly Scratching Engagement and, lastly, the You Ain't Done Yet Conflict. But as he looked around to find his petting prey, he discovered all these miserable balloons laying around on his floor and generally mucking up the place.

Thrown into a mad frenzy at the the sight of so many his mortal enemies casually gathered around and mixing with his humans, poor Fritz's little walnut-sized brain snapped. Somewhere an electrical connection was made that hadn't been dusted off since his ancestors' days.

That dog darted around quick as magic throwing balloons into the air with a fierce shake of his head, bouncing them off his nose, and moving on to the next balloon he could find. He'd go back for old falling balloons while trying to throw new ones (or old ones that had fallen) into the sky.

Some of them popped when he snapped and pawed at them. Once they'd deflated, he had no use for the leftovers. They were just casualties of war and he'd drop them with another fast flourish. He'd growl at the limp rubber remains and jump under the next bloated monstrosity nefariously wafting down at him.

Fritz's hatred of balloons was a common story for our friends to hear, but Leanna and Dave (pictured) had never seen it for themselves. When Fritz skidded to a halt in the middle of the living room, Dave tossed a balloon into the air to get him started and the one-dog-only soccer game was on.

There were 30-40 balloons scattered around the house that night, but within minutes, he'd rescued us. Things were safe. They were all dead.

So he went back into the room he'd been locked in, laid down, and went to sleep. His job was done.

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