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  • Peggy Race

One dog, One ball, One obsession

Updated: May 5, 2021

Reflections of the paw filter through a gradient of color that surrounds me during the stillness of the pre-dawn hours. Between the rays of light illuminating my path and the dark shadows of a silhouette, stands a border collie, crouched and ready to expend some pent-up energy.

An intense stare penetrates the fibers of my fanny pack. Wrapped around my waste, the pack holds my doggie essentials. Tucked neatly inside the zippered pouch, resides a tennis ball. To Faith, my border collie, the object has acquired a higher value than the treats hidden inside my pack.

The riveting eyes and open-mouthed gaze are a typical trait displayed every morning by Faith as she waits for the object to make its appearance. Occupying the past eight years of our lives, Faith's obsession with the spherical object began long before she was rehomed with me at the age of three.

Laser beams of focus

Living in the city, absent of the open farm fields and sheep that define this breed of dog, I have come to terms with the basket full of tennis balls that sit on my kitchen counter. The ball has proven to be an inexpensive, yet entertaining outlet for a border collie who employs her herding instincts at the expense of the spherical object.

Giving a toss, I observe as Faith’s laser beam focus follows the arc of the ball as my grip releases it. Watching the ball glide through the air, Faith opens her mouth in anticipation of the catch. Her eyes lock on the rotational spin of the ball as her mind calculates the precise moment of retrieval. With her jaws ajar, she scoops the object out of mid-air. Clutching it between her teeth, she resembles a baseball player fielding the ball before it hits the ground. In the world of ballplayers, Faith stands right alongside the best outfielders in the game.

Relinquishing the ball to the green blades of grass, Faith waits for my next move. As the blue haze of the twilight gives way to the bright blue sky of a sunlit morning, I turn my attention to the ball sitting at Faith’s feet. In that moment as I view the ball lying in the grass while Faith patiently waits for the next round of action, my memory kicks in. I recall the sneaker shoe test I took a few weeks prior.

A visual illusion, the test suggests that right-brained people see the colors of the shoe as pink and white while left brained people see teal and grey. With my vision locked on the teal laces, teal stripes and a teal sole, the shoe in the photo confirms my analytical train of thought.

My logical reasoning now studies the color of the ball as it lay in the grass. Between the varying shades of each individual blade, the ball appears to harbor a blend of the surrounding colors. A color I cannot put a name to.

Although I have never understood Faith’s obsession with the ball, I grasp the similarity of our nature. The boundless energy of my questioning mind turns to the Google app on my phone. Searching the web for tennis ball color, I glance between the words on the screen, fluorescent yellow, and the ball on the ground.

Faith’s preoccupation with the ball, now becomes my fascination. I stand there on the border of uncertainty. My mind drifts back to the many times we searched for a ball hidden in a field of green grass. Participating in a canine version of Where’s Waldo, I instruct Faith to find the ball.

With Faith’s color spectrum limited to shades of blue and yellow, the camouflaged ball provides Faith with her own puzzling search. For myself, a human with the ability to decipher between green and yellow, I stand adamant that a fluorescent yellow ball would stick out against the blanket of green. Yet, it is Faith’s nose that often finds the missing object.

Along the color spectrum

The unchartered territories of my mind create a route of wonder as we continue our walk. “Drop the ball,” I tell Faith as we approach a golden-yellow painted cement post. An intense stare emanates from both our eyes as we fixate on the ball lying in front of the post. Against the golden-yellow hue of the thick pole and woven into the fabric of the turf, the color of the ball appears to lay somewhere along the green-yellow spectrum of the color scale.

“Faith, what color do you see?” I ask as we scamper along our way, my mind still trying to decipher the answer to my own visual illusion. Silly question, I reason, knowing Faith sees only one thing in the ball….an opportunity to round it up and herd it back to me. After all, that is her job!

As we journey towards home, I toss the ball one last time. Spotting a street sign on the opposite side of the road, I recognize another opportunity to solve my own riddle. The linear outlay of the ball, the grass and the sign, only add to the perplexity of my dilemma. From my viewpoint, the fluorescent yellow hue of the street sign exposes the green tinge of the tennis ball.

Locked into my own right-brain vs left-brained puzzle, I Google fluorescent yellow. Adding to my confusion, Google only compounds the illusion. For a brief moment, the words electric lime removes any doubt of the green tint I have seen all morning.

As Google references the RGB (red, green, blue) color space in relation to fluorescent yellow, also called electric lime, the color of the ball appears to be a mix of 100% green and 80% red. My eyes continue scanning each word on the screen. Hesitation steps in. Analyzing the information regarding the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color space, I learn the color of the ball in relation to this color scale is mostly yellow.

Connecting each dot of information, I further complicate my own internal debate. Is it possible, I wonder, whether a left-brained person conforms to a different color scale than those who are right- brained? Against the backdrop of my mind, I filter out one final thought. Amidst the color spectrum of my life, whether left-brain or right, there resides a small trait of border collie obsession.

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