What Happens When Kafka the Bulldog Plays Soccer
Monday at 10:11 pm
Not much gets Kafka the bulldog moving. He loves to spread out on the couch. He loves to lay around in the sun. He loves to cuddle up with my husband, my kids, or me. Even when we’re playing outside, he’s pretty content just to watch us… unless we bring out the soccer ball.
While we’ve been sheltering in place, Kafka has been even more lazy than usual. His blue, green, and white soccer ball sat in his part of the yard, largely untouched for the past few weeks.
But one day recently the kids brought out the other soccer balls. Their soccer balls. The ones that are still in pretty good condition, considering there are no teeth marks on them. They were all still fully inflated too.
We’ve told the kids many, many times to keep those soccer balls away from Kafka. With his massive mouth, once he gets ahold of the ball, it can be hard to get it away from him. Once upon a time, when he was a younger, more active pup, we simply had to throw him another ball and he’d chase after the second ball. Repeat until somehow we were able to wrangle all the balls.
But these days, once he grabs onto a ball, he absolutely refuses to give it up. He has never mastered the command “drop,” especially if it’s for something he really, really wants. Rather, he basically turns it into a game of tug of war — and man, Kafka knows how to hold on.
Sometimes I’m able to get the ball away by very carefully kicking it while he’s holding it. Kafka actually adores this game (mostly because it usually takes a solid five or so kicks before it skitters away from him). If I stop trying to get the ball? He runs over and presses the ball against my legs.
So, on a sunny, beautiful day, we had all the soccer balls out. Kafka had his. My husband and I were kicking a ball back and forth. The kids each had their own. Don’t judge… they’re all different sizes, and the kids love to practice dribbling with their own ball. Plus, Kafka has claimed (a.k.a. destroyed) his fair share of balls over his nearly nine years. We need backups.
Kafka emerged from his slumber on the porch and decided he wanted — no, needed — to play with our soccer balls, rather than his, which was sitting mere feet from him. We tried kicking him his ball. No luck.
So we moved his 30-foot lead to the tree in the middle of the yard. (We don’t have a fence and our yard extends about 60 feet back). With his lead, we can — kind of — control where he’s located.
We decided: he’s not too fast anymore. He gets worn out easily. We could probably still play a bit with the soccer balls and wear him out at the same time, right?
Kafka watched my husband Tyler with one of the newer soccer balls. It gleamed white and yellow. I’m pretty sure Kafka has never laid his enormous mouth on it. He got into position to play. He kicked his rear legs back in the dirt, like a bull ready to race. This should have been our warning.
Tyler kicked the ball across the yard, and it shot out of Kafka’s range. One point for us. And then the kids kicked it… and Kafka dove, running faster than I’ve seen him run in ages. He grabbed at the ball right before I reached it.
Literally. The ball snapped from the pressure of his teeth. We heard a whoosh of air escaping the ball as it deflated.
The kids laughed. They didn’t care we were one ball down. And they loved that Kafka had defeated the ball.
Kafka loved it too. He sat there, mouth open wide, cradling the destroyed ball. It’s his now. He won. And he’s happy with it, because he carried that deflated soccer ball around like a trophy for the rest of the night.