Ransom's Tennis Ball Maze


Ransom loves tennis balls.  He loves to chew on them, carry them, chase them, catch them, fetch then, sleep on them, as well as hug them and pet them and call them George.

This is not peculiar behavior for a Golden Retriever.  However, Ransom enjoys another tennis ball-related game called, "Shove the ball under the chair, then dig holes in the carpet until you get it back out."  This got me thinking.  Wouldn't it be cool if Ransom had a box of some sort to play his hide-n-seek game?  Thus began the first official Spooky Blue Shop Project.

Premise:  Stick a tennis ball into the maze and watch Ransom go completely out of his mind trying to get it back out again.

Construction:  I cut 2 32"x32" squares from some 3/8" plywood sheeting I had lying around.  I then cut some old 2x4s into various lengths from 4" to 6".  I sanded off any rough edges and rounded all the corners to protect dog paws & noses.

Careful to support the corners, I spaced out the 2x4 blocks to give the player lots of places to stick his paws in.  They're offset so each side of the box gives him a different means of getting inside the maze.

In the center of the maze are two blocks butted together in a "T".  They're set at an angle, so there's a good chance a deflected ball will bounce into a corner instead of popping right back out of the maze.  This also serves as a means of support for the center of the box (in case puppies or blonde women walk or stand on the box when you're not looking).

I nailed everything together with 6P nails.  The original plans called for upholstering the top and bottom as well as painting the blocks.  However, I was too excited to see what Ransom would do with his new toy to bother with all those pesky details.

Results/Improvements:  Ransom enjoys playing this new game up to a point.  Upon reaching said point he begins growling and chomping the plywood.  The problem is that he can't see the ball.  He can shove both paws in up to his shoulders, and presumably can feel the ball as he knocks it around, but he can't see what's going on in there.  When the ball ends up in a corner, it tends to stay there, resulting in teeth marks on the plywood.

I plan on cutting 1/2" slots in strategic places on the top of the box so he can see into the maze.  The slots won't be wide enough to stick a paw through.  (This will protect puppies and those blonde women from turning an ankle by accident.)  These slots ought to make the game much more fun.  Hopefully this improvement will result in "Two paws" instead of "One paw" on the GRRS (Golden Retriever Rating Scale).