One Thing You Can Do Now: # 4 Find Your Inner Ball

by Anne Bennett on July 30, 2009

One of my big poodles, Isabel, lives to eat. Ever since cataracts rendered her nearly blind, she has developed the nose of a bloodhound and can locate food anywhere within the reach of an average sized human. When I am cooking, she sits and patiently waits for the sound of me turning my back (believe me, she hears it) and then she silently pounces with the precision of a pilot landing on an air craft carrier and disappears into the next room to her dog bed/picnic spot.

On the other hand, Lulu, my younger poodle, lives to fetch her ball. Food means nothing to her. She eats only when she’s really hungry, and most often she leaves behind a few morsels for Isabel to happily snarf down.


Lulu loves her ball so much she won’t let go of it even when she’s too tired to play. Once, when she was thirsty and wanted to take a drink of water, she noticed that Isabel was standing nearby. Not wanting Isabel to take her ball, she stood there and “thought” for a moment (believe me again, she was thinking). Suddenly it hit her. She stood over the bowl and gently lowered the ball right into the water where it floated next to her face while she took a long drink. Then she dipped her nose down into the water to grab the ball and trotted off past Isabel, her face dripping wet but triumphant. What her ball-crazed instinct was unable to understand was that Isabel couldn’t have cared less about the ball unless it was made of chicken!


When she can find no one to toss the ball for her, Lulu plays her own game–she shoves it into the swimming pool with her nose and then retrieves it. Sometimes she leans just a bit too far and falls into the water. But before heading to the steps, she finds her ball and clenches it tightly in her mouth before swimming to safety. That’s how important her ball is to her. It’s worth her very life.

There is much we can learn from dogs. Isabel and Lulu each has her own passion, something that gets her up every morning and pretty much consumes her entire day. When she scores, it’s nirvana. When she doesn’t, there’s always tomorrow. It’s a never-ending quest for that one thing that makes her happy to be alive.

I know how the girls feel.  I have a few passions that make me happy to be alive even during the most stressful times. One of them is needlepoint. I love to stitch renditions of paintings by impressionist masters. I copy their paintings onto canvas and then stitch as closely as I can to the original. This painting by Seurat, titled, “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, had a black lab in the original. I changed it to a poodle ( ! )


I find needlepoint to be very relaxing, much like knitting must feel to knitters. It is also a productive non-food way to cope with stress or boredom. We should all have a passion of some sort to occupy our time in a meaningful way. It is the only way to feel truly, simply, alive.

What is your ball?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda July 31, 2009 at 8:57 am

Hilarious that you changed the lab to a poodle! Pretty “doggone” cute…as is Lulu!

terri August 3, 2009 at 3:18 am

cycling, we did 104 miles yesterday

You are an artist in so many ways!

admin August 3, 2009 at 6:02 am

104 miles? That’s a huge ball! You go, girl!

Susan August 13, 2009 at 9:48 am

Love your art! The needlepoint is fabulous. And your photos are incredible.

June Cassingham September 4, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Would you believe, I have a picture of me standing in front of that very painting. Nat and I saw the painting in the Museuam of Art in Chicago. The photo he took is hanging on my wall in the basement.

Your needlepoint is amazing. I thought your inner ball was shopping.l

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