Tessa and tennis balls

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Last year, we adopted a new puppy – something our girls (especially our dog-crazy middle daughter) had been wanting (and begging for) for years. We waited until the girls were old enough to really enjoy the experience of raising a puppy – and yes, until they were able to help out with the work too. 🙂 Our dog is a mix of Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise and will turn a year old in February.

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Tessa has been a wonderful addition to our family and I can’t imagine not having her as a part of it. She’s still a puppy though, and definitely acts like it at times. She loves to play and is always sad to see ‘her’ girls head off to school every day because she knows it’ll be hours before they get home to play with her. The welcome they get when they walk in the door every afternoon is something I love to watch – they’re as excited to see her as she is to see them, and I hope that never changes.


She is a little goofball though! Although she loves her chew toys and bones, her absolute favorite thing to play with are these little squeaky tennis balls that we originally bought to play fetch with. She does chase and fetch them (sometimes) but usually doesn’t want to give up the ball long enough for us to throw it for her. She is almost obsessed with the squeaker in the balls and the first thing she does with a new ball is chew the squeaker right out of it (her record is about 20 minutes). Then she starts chewing the felt off of the ball – to the point where we’ve started presumptively stripping the balls once she gets the squeaker out in order to keep little felt bits from getting all over the living room carpet.

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Needless to say, Tessa doesn’t get a brand-new ball very often, since she ‘ruins’ them almost immediately. And she is almost as happy with her de-squeaked, stripped rubber tennis balls most of the time anyway. It’s like her version of a security blanket – this silly puppy knows where her ball is at all times, curls up with it, takes it outside with her and knows the word ‘ball’ because she’ll always trot over and grab it when reminded to bring it back inside with her. If her ball falls behind a piece of furniture or we take it away from her, she doesn’t relax until she finds it again or we give her a new one. We try to only give her new ones if the previous one is totally lost – and we watch her carefully to make sure she doesn’t swallow the squeaker after she chews it out of the ball. I wish we could find a tennis ball where the squeaker couldn’t be removed!

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Then again, during those 20 minutes before she chews the squeaker out of a new ball, I’m extremely happy to know that there will soon be silence in the house again because that’s all she does is to chew on and squeak that ball until it drives us crazy.

And on the other hand, when she gets out of the yard, all it takes is one squeak of a new tennis ball and she’s back inside the house in a flash – she can hear and recognize that squeak even from a few houses away!