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 Category:  General Non-Fiction
  Posted: December 19, 2020      Views: 60

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I wrote a human interest column for three newspapers and front page feature stories for a monthly publication in Metro Atlanta for nearly 20 years. I currently free lance for a local magazine. I conducted workshops in schools and correctional facilit - more...

She is an accomplished poet and is currently at the #47 spot on this years rankings.

She is also an active reviewer and is holding the #49 spot on the top ranked reviewer list.

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This work has reached the exceptional level
A true story about two dogs
"A Whole New Balla Game" by Susan Larson

Johnny and Bobby were in Johnny's back yard playing ball with their dogs. Or at least trying to.

Bobby's dog, Yogi, a beautiful border collie, loved playing ball and was a real pro. Bobby would throw the ball high in the air and Yogi would catch it on the fly. He could hurl it across the yard and Yogi would chase after it. He even taught him to stand at the far end of the yard and watch for it, then retrieve it. Yogi was a very smart dog.

Then there was Johnny's dog, Sam, a plain old mutt. Somehow, Johnny couldn't teach him anything. He couldn't even sit up or roll over, so teaching him to play ball was beyond hope.

Bobby and Johnny tried putting the ball in Sam's mouth. They tried putting him on a leash. Johnny would throw the ball and Bobby would pull him along chasing it. They even tried having Sam watch while Yogi chased the ball and they would clap for him. Nothing worked.

Then one day, Johnny's mother told him she had some exciting news. His parents were going to adopt a child and he would have a new sister or brother.

"Oh,' said Johnny, "I hope it's a boy so I'll have someone to play ball with."

"We don't know yet whether it will be a boy or a girl," said his mother. We don't know what age or even what country your new brother or sister will be from. He or she may not even speak English."

"You mean we'll have to teach 'em?" asked Johnny.

"We might," said his mother.

"Well, it couldn't be any harder than trying to teach Sam how to play ball!" Johnny replied.

Johnny soon learned he was going to have a new little sister. Her name was Chiara. She was four years old and from Italy. AND, she didn't speak a word of English.

Johnny ran down to Bobby's house and told him the good news and what fun it was going to be teaching his new sister English. The boys started making a list of words she needed to know.

The next day, Johnny and his parents went to pick up Chiara at the adoption agency. When they got home, all the kids in the neighborhood were standing in their front yard awaiting her arrival.

Johnny's mother said, "Kids, I know you're all eager to meet Chiara, but let's let her get settled in first. Then we'll have a big welcoming party and you'll all be invited."

All the kids left except Bobby. It seemed Chiara and Yogi were strangely attracted to each other and Bobby couldn't get Yogi to follow him.

"Well, Bobby, you can stay. You and Johnny are just like brothers anyway, and Chiara really does seem to like Yogi," Johnny's mother said. "Maybe she'd like to see Yogi play ball."

"OK," said Bobby. They went to the back yard and he threw the ball. Yogi ran after it and caught it as usual, except this time, he brought it back to Johnny.

"Bravo!" shouted Chiara.

"Bravo?" said Johnny. "Hey, I've heard them say that in movies!"

This time Johnny threw to ball. When Yogi retrieved it, Johnny handed it to Chiara.

"Ball," he said.

"Balla?" Chiara replied.

Close enough for her first try, thought Johnny. He called Yogi over and put Chiara's hand on the dog's head.

"Yogi," he said.

"Yogi," she repeated.

"Bravo!" said Johnny and he grinned as he saw her face light up.

Johnny motioned for her to throw the ball. Yogi caught it as usual and Chiara, Johnny and Bobby yelled "Bravo!" together.

All the while, Sam just sat there watching. Then, when Chiara threw the ball again, Sam ran after it and brought it back to her. Johnny and Bobby couldn't believe it. And what was really strange was that Yogi didn't even attempt to go after it.

"Bravo, Yogi!" squealed Chiara.

"Uh, oh," said Johnny. "She thinks Yogi means "dog."

Johnny called Bobby over and went over all their names together. "Chiara, Johnny, Bobby, Yogi, Sam," as he pointed to each of them.

Chiara repeated all their names as she pointed them all out, prompting
Bobby and Johnny to once again cheer, "Bravo!"

"Four new words," said Johnny, holding up four fingers. "Johnny, Bobby, Yogi, Sam!"

Just then, Chiara grabbed the ball and said, "Balla, balla, balla!"

"That's right," said Johnny. "Her first English word was "balla!"

Chiara threw to ball again and Sam dashed after it.

"Just think," said Johnny, "I was hoping for a brother so I'd have someone to play ball with, but now I have a sister and a dog who can play ball!"

"C'mon, Yogi, let's go home. They don't need us anymore," said Bobby.

Chiara and Johnny didn't even notice they had left. They -- and Sam -
were having too much fun with their whole new "balla" game!


Author Notes
I wrote this nearly 50 years ago. About 20 years ago, I entered it in a contest at a at a writers convention. After the judging, the judges conferred with all the writers. My judge told me it was a cute story, but my ending was too contrived and unbelievable and suggested I change it. When I told her it was true and that I witnessed it myself, she just sat there with her mouth open. So I'm asking my Fanstory friends, what do you think?
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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