Uncle Friar’s Tips on Dog-Sitting a Duck Toller

What do most of us want, more than anything else in the whole world?

A nice house?   To with the lottery?  A fancy car?   Our health?  Happiness?  Fame and Fortune?

Well, if you’re like the Duck-Toller I’m babysitting,  THIS is all you want.


It’s a ball.

Not just any ball.    It’s a rubber ball that you can buy at Ikea, three for a dollar.

And it’s the MOST IMPORTANT thing in a Toller’s life.

Because they want to RETRIEVE IT.

It’s why they were born…it’s their raison d’être.

To RETRIEVE the Ikea ball!

It’s actually quite something to see a Duck Toller fulfilling their Life Goal.

As soon as you bring the ball out, their ears perk up, they start to pant, and their pupils dilate to the point of disappearing.   It’s like watching a drug addict anticipating their next hit of crack cocaine.

If you wiggle the ball in front of them, they start the Toller Dance.    Shifting weight from one paw to the other, tail wagging.   Waiting…waiting for you to throw the ball.  So that they can RETRIEVE it.

And you oblige.    Because the dog is so gosh-darned cute, how can you RESIST?


You throw the ball.   And throw it…again and again.   And again and again and again.     For n equals 1 to infinity.

They’re so focused, nothing else matters.   They don’t want treats.  They don’t want to go to the bathroom.  They don’t to be petted. They just want THE BALL!!!

Surgeons performing open-heart surgery should be so focused.


After umpteen tosses, you can change the game plan.  Instead of throwing the ball, you can flick it with your finger.    This way, they can get up really close to you, inches away.

And they’re so INTENSE…trying to block your path with their paw, waiting to spring into action at a nano-second’s notice, to catch that elusive rubber sphere.


You keep throwing and flicking the ball.  Again and again.   And again.   Vrooom!  They don’t stop.   These dogs have LOTS of energy.

It doesn’t matter if you’re outside and the dog runs 100 feet.   Or if you’re in your basement, and they run 10 feet…or even 10 inches.

Tollers don’t care.   They just want to human/throw/retrieve interaction.

(My theory is the click of their teeth on the ball triggers a small burst of endorphins into their little doggie brain that lasts for a microsecond…Which is why they need to keep doing it.)


Eventually, the dog WILL  get tired (but they’ll be the last to admit it)



This is when you have to be the pack leader, and tell them “TIME OUT!!!   ALL DONE!!!”.    After which they’ll reluctantly stop the game, and you go hide the ball in the freezer, so they don’t smell it and start yapping to play again in 5 minutes.

If you’ve accomplished your mission, you’ve exhausted your pooch, and they’ll actually rest for an hour or two, and leave you alone.

(“Better behavior through exhaustion“, they say about this breed.)


Unfortunately, it doesn’t last too long.

I bet you if I took the ball out of the freezer right now, she’d go nuts, and start all over again.

But I probably won’t.

Let Sleeping Tollers Lie.   (Lord knows, it happens so rarely!)

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23 Comments on “Uncle Friar’s Tips on Dog-Sitting a Duck Toller”

  1. Vicki Says:

    Seriously, you could replace “toller” with “chihuahua” and this would apply 100% to my little one. Too funny.

  2. Friar Says:


    …though I think a toller would out-run a chihuahua. (I think these dogs are powered by nuclear reactors or something!)

  3. I forgot you were babysitting a toller. That is my Maggie. Right there in that picture. EXACTLY.

    And yes. She retrieves. But she won’t give you back the ball, she wants to keep it for awhile and then will drop it at your feet when she’s good and ready.She is about five seconds after you were about to give up. She’s just messing with your mind.

    And she is the sock ambassader of the house. She has retrieved every sock we own and moved them all over the entire house. She thinks its funny.

  4. Kelly Says:


    She is SO beautiful! If you didn’t describe that “better behavior through exhaustion” so perfectly I would want one.

    The Wikipedia article was fascinating.

    This is one of those cases of dog so specialized people should be required to fully understand what they’re getting into before buying one. It would be cruel to keep one if you couldn’t give her all that crazy attention every day.

    She’s going to be sad when you give her back. Uncles will always play longer than Mom will!



    P.S. I’ve never gotten a dog photo in my life that didn’t involve red-eye—how’d you do it?

  5. Friar Says:


    Yep. I’m dog sitting. Lucky for Tipper, I’m her FAVORITE person in the whole world.

    Tipper makes sure you get the ball back. In fact, she INSISTS. She thrusts it into your lap, or drops it at your feet, she’s very-much in-your-face. And before you pick it up to throw it, she’s already run to the other side of the room to wait for it.

    But when she gets tired, she’s like Maggie. She starts to hold onto it for a few seconds, to “mess” with you.

    Duck Tollers aren’t for everyone…especially for stay-at-home people who just like to relax around the house. Fortunately her Mommmy and Daddy are very active folks, so the dog’s a good match for them.

    I should have mentioned in this post. Shortly after this play session, I took her cross country skiing in the woods for almost two hours, with her running ahead most of the time. (And she seems annoyed when the walk was over and it was time to go inside).

    And yes, there WAS lots of red-eye in the photos. (especially with her pupils dilated, I swear you could see her retinas). I cheated, and fixed her eyes manually with Adobe Photoshop.

  6. Kelly Says:

    Ah, I didn’t know you were a Photoshop master. Makes sense now. 🙂

  7. Friar Says:


    Aww…it’s not hard. I just blow up the face till the eyes fill the screen. And then color in a dark-brown/black shade for the pupils. And put in white specks for the light reflection.

    After I zoom out, it looks not too bad.

  8. I just got back from a two hour hike to the top of the mountain.

    We got in, they had a drink and then it was like
    “can we go again, can we?”

    Sometimes the thought of a little lap Dog is quite appealing!

  9. Brett Legree Says:

    My kids still talk about “Tipper-dog” almost a year later, after we all went for a winter walk.

    If you don’t want to do the Photoshop thing, Picasa has a red-eye removal tool that even your grandmother could use (I guess it just removes the red from whatever spot you aim it at, and it seems to do a good job).

  10. mehculpa Says:

    Roomie has a dog like Duck Toller. He’s a McNab Shepherd mix, named Harry. He likes to play with Baby Yeti, from whom Harry can elicit many, many squeeks. Harry thinks the squeeks are terribly exciting.

    (I can only catch Harry when he’s sitting still…)

  11. Friar Says:

    @three dog blogger
    Yeah..if ONLY we can locate their “Off” switch, it’d make life easier.

    I just came back from the walk by the ski hill (the exact same walk I did last year with your kids). That’s when I told them about “Garpak”, remember?

    I tried the red-eye adjust on Photoshop…couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

    That teddy bear Harry plays with looks surprisingly a lot like the bear I have! Hope he’s gentle with it.

  12. Duane Says:

    Are you at Tippers house or your house.If you are at Tippers house you could walk her over to my house. It’s only about 50 kms. She should still have lots of energy.

  13. Karen JL Says:

    That is ONE adorable pooch! I loves me some puppy, but kitties fit the lifestyle right now.

    One day.:)

    Have fun! I’m sure you’re loving it as much as she is.

  14. Kelly Says:

    Brett, Friar,

    I was coming back to mention that Pshop has a red-eye adjust but I see Friar beat me to it. Don’t bother trying to figure it out though, it bites.

    I do it the same way you do, Friar, you get a much more natural effect.



  15. Friar Says:

    Tipper was at my house. It’d be a few hundred clicks to your place. That MIGHT be enough to burn off the stupid dog’s excess energy!

    Yeah, watching the dog get so happy when she’s retrieving, just watching her joy lowers my blood pressure. I think we feed off each other…she wants me play with her, I encourage her to play. Sometimes I don’t know who’s egging who on.

    You can’t play like this with a dumb CAT! 🙂

    My Dad used to play around with the red-eye. Didn’t look so great. I think it helps to be an artist…I’ve painted animals before, so I can draw in the pupils by hand.

  16. Brett Legree Says:

    Hope you had fun at the party. I had fun with Owen barfing all night… 😉

  17. Friar Says:

    Yeah, when it was after 10:00 and you guys werent’ there, I said “It’s probably safe to say they won’t show up”.

    I told Panther there’s a nasty bug going around, you guys might not make it. (Poor Brett…with four kids, chances are at least ONE will be puking or something). I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and have that flu bug hit me.

  18. Brett Legree Says:

    I knew it would only be me because we didn’t have a babysitter. I planned to leave here around 5:00 but the barfing had started already and everyone else (including the Missus) looked a bit green around the gills…

    You probably won’t get it, because it seems to have missed me too.

  19. Friar Says:


    Well, a co-worker showed up to work on Monday…sick as a dog. I had a meeting scheduled with them. They wanted to stay till it was over.

    I said “GO HOME!!!”

    For crying out loud, I’ll reschedule the meeting!

    Wish people wouldn’t be such workplace martyrs (and infect the rest of us).

  20. steph Says:

    This is so exactly like Lucy. Except with the laser. She LOVES the red dot, and if you say “laser” she cocks her head side to side, looking pointedly at the ground, and up at you, then back at the ground again, and goes into a crouch…and even as her tongue lolls and her mouth is foaming and her sides are heaving and she’s slowing down, she keeps at it. I’m tired of it long before she is!

  21. Friar Says:

    Too bad you didn’t live closer…I could have brought Tipper over to play. Mabye the two dogs would run around each other and tire themselves out.

    Laser…hmmm? (Wonder if it’s worth trying out?)

  22. Oh, that Tipper is one adorable dog! I fear for the poor Duck-Tollers who end up in the wrong family, never getting the exercise they need. And I shudder to think about a couch potato dog-sitting our Riley. She needs two good, long walks a day or she’s out of her mind.

    All prospective dog owners should be tested to be sure they’re a good fit for a certain breed. It would probably keep a lot of dogs out of shelters!

  23. Friar Says:


    Tippers back home now with her Mommy. I kinda miss her. It was a fun week at Camp Uncle Friar.

    But what I DON’T miss is a hyper dog wanting to get frisky and chase the ball at midnite!

    I swear, she perks her ears and does her Toller-dance on purpose. She knows how cute it looks, and that’s how I get suckered into playing with her.

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