There's something about a stick that some animals just can't get enough of.
Maybe that's because it's nature's perfect toy. An all-season diversion that's not too hard and not too soft. No two sticks are the same, so there's always a bit of an exploratory period with each one.
There's a little sniffing, at first. Then a little chewing.
It may even be infused with the faint taste of the great old tree that donated it.
A stick will even float.
Mostly, we bear witness to that joy when our dog finds just the right old branch and gallops away with it like it's the most precious thing in the world.
But recently, a humpback whale found her "stick" in the waters off the shores of Comox, British Columbia. And for a brief interlude, she reminded us all of the preciousness that is a playful moment.
A video of the whale, frolicking with her new toy, was posted on YouTube in early December by the Canadian environmental group Lifeforce Foundation.
In it, the 4-year-old humpback whale named Lorax is seen balancing the stick on her sloping back. For a full 45 minutes, she splashes around with the stick and even waves a flipper above it, as if asking onlookers to throw it.
It's all part of the fun, Lifeforce Director Peter Hamilton, tells CBC News. The young whale, he says, is engaging in what's called "play logging."
"This rare type of 'play logging' adds to our knowledge of their complex lives," he explains.
Of course, when we're talking about animals that can grow to about 60 feet from nose to tail and weigh in at around 30 tons, the stick in question would have to be a little bigger than the one your dog obsesses over.
In this case, we're looking at something closer to a log. But even at that scale, this whale could teach the oldest dog — and maybe even a few of us — some new tricks.