39: The Not-So-Long Down

39: The Not-So-Long Down

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

The Not-So-Long Down

Fun fact: The “long down,” during which a dog must remain in a down position for an extended period of time, teaches self-control and helps establish the human as the leader.

I am seated at the round kitchen table with my mixed-breed puppy Sneeks lying near my feet. You might not know it to look at me, but I’m actually doing homework.

You see, shortly after Sneeks joined our household, we signed her up for obedience class. Well, I suppose you could say that both Sneeks and I have been enrolled in the class. Since I have a tendency to be a soft touch, the training is helpful in establishing who gets to be the alpha dog. At least, that’s the theory.

In reality, the training hasn’t been a scintillating success in this regard, through no fault of the instructor. Beneath Sneeks’s shorthaired black-and-white coat beats the heart of a rebel, a born leader. A cross between a Border Collie and some kind of Terrier, she has been endowed with a combination of smarts and stubbornness, and is insistent about getting her way about certain things. The fact that she is saucy and impertinent in the process makes it hard not to laugh at her antics.

Today’s homework, with Sneeks a reluctant participant, is an exercise known as the “long down.” The objective is to teach the dog to lie obediently at one’s feet. Equipment needed: collar and leash. Method: get the dog to lie on the floor, then place your foot on the leash to restrain her in place until you release her.

Sounds simple, right?

Each time I have tried this exercise before today, Sneeks has put up a fuss, struggling mightily for several minutes before sulkily complying. Today, though, she settles right down, and I allow myself a few seconds of smug self-congratulation before immersing myself in an earnest study of the newspaper.

Moments later, I hear a noise that sounds suspiciously like the clicking of dog nails on a vinyl floor. I dismiss this because I can still feel the leash under my foot.

The sound persists, so I lift my head and survey the kitchen.

Sneeks is standing in the far corner of the room, defiantly staring me down. Dangling from her collar are six inches of lime-green nylon fabric leash. I look down. The remainder of the leash is under the table, including a section still — somewhat uselessly — pinned under my foot. It’s clear what she was doing while I thought she was demonstrating a newfound flair for obedience.

With a sigh, I begin to acknowledge that Sneeks may never master the “long down.” On the bright side, I have an excuse for our next obedience class.

The dog really did eat my homework.

~Lisa Timpf

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