It’s early Friday morning and the ball is sitting on top of a bookshelf.

Rosie the Cartoon Dog groans and stretches before slowly sliding off the bed.

She saunters down the hall, her limbs aching, and takes a cursory glance at the ball before struggling to get on the couch.

She is one tired pooch.

It was her birthday the day before, Thursday.

We celebrated a day earlier with venison burgers and mini cupcakes with her new little brother, Milo, and her cousin, Maisy, a black, purebred poodle who is nearly as insane as Rosie.

On Thursday, Rosie turned 6 and, as is our tradition, she gets to have the ball, the one that is now sitting on top the bookshelf, out of her reach.

Rosie, as I have mentioned before, has obsessive compulsive disorder. Give her a stick and she will play fetch until she drops from exhaustion. The ball is another matter.

She is allowed to play with it only on special occasions, perhaps two or three times a year.

She found it when she was about 2. At that time, she had an obsession with soccer and volleyballs, which she would chase and chew and whine and go absolutely berserk until the ball was nothing but a shredded rag.

Once Rosie got to the rubber inside of the balls, she would stop playing with them and move on to another one.

Securing such balls became difficult, not to mention expensive.

Then, one day, Rosie appeared from the hedgerow with a small, hollow rubber ball.

It was dirty and old, and I have no idea where it came from.

Apparently, outer space.

This ball is indestructible.

And it became Rosie’s ultimate obsession.

She would chase it for hours, pausing only to chew it in fits of rage.

This caused her great stress because she was not able to tear through the outer core to get to what she believed would be a rubber inside. There was no rubber inside this ball, for one thing.

So we played fetch. Over and over and over, nearly every day for two years.

Finally, I tired of this madness and would hide the ball for weeks at a time, wondering how in the world a young dog with razor teeth could not penetrate this ball.

It took Rosie about three days before she stopped whining and pacing and running ragged looking for it.

Then, it was back to sticks.

Thursday, being a special occasion, the ball was taken from the top of the shelf and outside we went.

Rosie’s tail was wagging so hard it nearly blew down a pine tree.

Milo the puppy stared in wonder.

“What’s this?” he pondered.

Then, Milo realized what was going on and gave chase, attempting to snag the ball from Rosie, gnawing at her cheeks and tugging at the ball, clenched firm in Rosie’s powerful jaw.

We did this for an hour and by the end, both dogs were a muddy mess.

Jenna and I bathed Milo first. Rosie was next and was slathered in mud.

Her birthday didn’t end on this bad note, however.

I had a sportsmen’s club meeting and, as always, brought Rosie with me.

This is her second favorite thing to do.

Fresh from a shower, she pranced and prowled, dropping sticks in front of the feet of various members of the club until she found someone to pick it up and throw it across the clubhouse floor.

By the end of the night, shards of sticks were everywhere and Rosie was exhausted. Content, but exhausted.

We arrived home and Rosie struggled to get up the porch stairs, getting a bit of energy when she walked inside the house and saw her ball sitting on shelf.

“No,” I said. “We’re done.”

Rosie dropped her head and looked up with sad eyes.

She and Milo ate some more venison burger and it was time for bed.

I had to pick Rosie up to get her on the bed and she grunted as I did.

Best birthday ever, she seemed to say with her eyes.

Except for the darn puppy and the bath, that is.

(Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at

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