It was a beautiful fall day; sunny, brisk, and breezy. I was in the backyard raking leaves into piles to be ground into leaf mulch later in the week. At least, that was the plan. Half way into my first gigantic pile, I realized that the mountain of leaves was right smack in the middle of Ray's path to the back fence. I looked around for a more suitable location and moved the mountain. I pondered how the smallest thing can become an obstacle to a disabled being.
Ray was snoozing in the sun on a bed of leaves. He had been playing with Tucker, his Australian Cattle Dog friend, and was exhausted. Tucker wasn't. He ran up and dropped a toy at my feet. The stuffed squirrel had been attached spread-eagle to a ring of rope, marking an X in the middle of the loop. As I had been tossing it, and as Tucker had been retrieving and shaking the living daylights out of it, the flying squirrel had migrated so that all four of its feet were left gamely clinging to the same spot. Now its flight path was irregular and unpredictable. I didn't know how far or high it was going to go. Even the direction was questionable.
Tucker nudged the squirrel at me. I bent to pick it up, and at that movement, Tucker shot through the nearest pile of leaves, running in the direction of the anticipated toss. I threw the squirrel. It was low and fast, but so was the dog. The squirrel skimmed the ground, hit something, and flipped up. Tucker was right there on it, his head piercing the loop like a trick dog at a circus. The squirrel settled around his neck, dangling from the rope like a filthy, furry pendant. Without missing a beat, Tucker turned and raced back to me, the squirrel bouncing on his chest. I laughed at the grinning dog. I had won the ring toss without even trying. I wondered what my prize was.