Five Words in a Bin of Free Tennis Balls

On a beach in western Australia, there was a green plastic bin. In the bin were tennis balls, perfect for throwing with a dog.

There were probably many dogs who loved this beach and its smooth white sand. But there was one dog in particular. Phoebe. She was small and black with a thick patch of white running down her neck.

In the green plastic bin, behind the tennis balls, there was a piece of cardboard. Taped to the cardboard was a picture of Phoebe at the beach with a wide blue horizon behind her.

Her head is tilted up, her mouth part open, that look dogs have when they can’t seem to get enough of the world.

Below the picture of Phoebe was a typed out note.

“Please help yourself to a tennis ball for your dog to enjoy,” the note said. “You may want to pop it back in the box afterward for another dog to enjoy.”

And you could tell from the picture that the smooth white sand, and probably chasing down tennis balls on it, was something Phoebe enjoyed. Maybe she went bananas when she saw a tennis ball and the leash appear. Maybe she rode to the beach with her head stuck way out the window.

The note continued: Remember to live as dogs do. With love, loyalty, and happiness that have no conditions on them.

Above the picture of Phoebe were five words. And if five words in a bin of free tennis balls can break up, soften up, and raise up your heart all at once, these five words above the picture of the dog who couldn’t get enough of the world, did:

“In Loving Memory of Phoebe.”

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