They’re called “greasers.”
Old lacrosse balls that have become so worn and slick that they can’t be used for games or practice. What do you do with them? Anyone with an old lacrosse stick and a large dog has probably played fetch.
Now, four members of the Culver Military Prep lacrosse team have gone one step further, turning 20 to 30 greasers into tug ropes for the shelter dogs at the Marshall County Humane Society. First-classmen Kelan Duff (Chicago), Emmett King (Brownsburg, Ind.), Jack Parker (Ada, Mich.), and Jake DeMare (Naperville, Ill.) combined the old balls with nylon nautical rope to make the toys appropriate for larger dogs.
They dropped off the tug ropes at the shelter and took one of the dogs, Judge, out in the play area for a trial run.
“But he was more interested in being around people than playing with the ball,” Duff said.
Duff started by taking the balls home to drill the holes. He had to create a four-way wooden brace to hold the hard rubber balls securely. Drilling was a slow process, he added, because the rubber shavings kept plugging the holes. The four players then cut the rope, threaded the sections through the balls, tied knots in each end, and burned the tips to keep the ropes from fraying.
Nancy Cox, director of the shelter, said two of the tug toys are used in the yard when people come to meet and/or exercise the dogs. The tug ropes will be put into heavier rotation when the Wednesday Wag Watchers program begins for the summer. That is when volunteers will come at 6 p.m. to walk, socialize, and play with the dogs.
“They are fun to toss,” she said, “and the dogs will retrieve them – or not. Sometimes, they want to play keep-away.”
And, she hinted, there will be more room to play with the dogs once they clear the shelter’s backyard of debris and repair a fence that was damaged after a tree fell during a recent storm. The material has been donated, all she needs are more able hands to help with the repairs.
“But it was really a nice thing for the boys to do,” Cox added. “It was just super-generous of them to think of our dogs.”
People adopting a large dog can take a tug rope home with them. The shelter has given out five to six toys to families since the players dropped them off. But they are only for supervised play, Cox explained. “Dogs like ropes, but ropes don’t like dogs.”
Duff said the four hope other lacrosse players will continue to make the tug ropes for their senior service project. When they dropped off the toys, the players toured the facility and every dog up for adoption was a large breed. That means there will be a continuing need for more tug ropes in the future.