Monday, December 24, 2007

Straight Fronts and Butt Awareness

Sailor here.

At dog school tonight, Mom harrumphed and grumbled about my crooked Front.

“Mo-om,” I patiently explained, “Look at me. My legs are straight. My chest is straight. My head is straight. That means my FRONT is straight.”

“Sailor,” she patiently explained, “when you run to me on the Recall, your front is indeed straight. But your butt is canted off to starboard. That makes for a crooked Front.”

What? My butt is crooked? I stood up, craned my neck and looked at my butt.

I have a nice butt. It is big. It is furry. It is round. It is independent.

“Mom,” I explained, “My butt has a mind of its own. It doesn’t always follow along in the most amiable fashion.” (I herd that somewhere and thought I’d try it out on Mom.)

“Boy, that’s for sure,” Mom agreed.

And the next day, she lugged this large white frame onto the lawn.

“We’ll practice some Butt Awareness with your ladder,” Mom said.

“Mo-om,” I groaned. “That isn’t a ladder. Ladders lean up against houses so Erik can get Zoe down from the roof. This thing is lying down in the grass.”

“Sailor,” Mom patiently explained, “Let’s throw caution to the winds and call this a ladder. I’m going to make it do an incredibly long DownStay and you are going to walk through it.”

Fine. It’s a ladder.

So I walked around it. Then I walked two steps into its slatty little sides and jumped out. I walked around it again.

Mom sighed. Then she smiled and kissed my nose. Then she led me to the end of the ladder and cookied me down the length of it. We did this more than once. I got more than one cookie. And I learned to walk down its midst without tripping. Then I learned to walk up its midst without tripping. Then Mom ran with me and I learned to run down its length without tripping or jumping off to port. What fun! This was easy.

Then Mom sat down on the grass and turned me around so I was facing the ladder.

“Sailor, I am going to have a private conversation with your butt. Just stand there and look at the hummingbird feeder or something.”

And Mom put her hand on my back and started to move her fingers in a small circle. She moved them in larger and larger circles, moving down my hips to my haunches and the back of my legs. She whispered secret things that I tried to ignore.

Finally, she stood up and led me back to that grid of white pipes she calls a ladder.

“Sailor,” she said. “Get your butt in gear. We are going to go BACK.”

What a disaster. Well, I’m not a her and I wasn’t dis-assed exactly, but my butt definitely had other ideas about backing down that ladder. But during this exercise, I discovered something quite startling.

I have two back feet. I have two back feet that are attached to my butt. I have two back feet that will actually help my butt get in gear, unless, of course, they are having an independence day of their own and running riot with my rear end. Like today.

Mom patiently lined me up again, and we started to slowly back down the ladder. My butt went to starboard, my back feet did an about-face and my body swung around sideways My rear end rioted, causing my butt to leap and bound away.

“Maybe if you’d called it a Butt Awareness Apparatus,” I said a little testily, “my butt would be more aware. If you insist on calling this thing a ladder, my butt will keep trying to climb into the air.”

“OK, Sailor,” Mom patiently agreed. “It’s a BAA. Now, let’s start over.”

She gave me the Back command.

And so, daintily picking my way down the BAA, I pictured myself backing away from a flock of wooly sheep, keeping them from bolting, while concentrating on my butt and my back legs and the grass and the BAA slats and Mom and the cookies in her pockets.

My rear end rioted. My brain took a small vacation.

Mom smiled and kissed my on the nose again. “Well, Sailor,” she said, “We just have to be patient with your butt, huh? All this patience will pay off in the end. We’ll try this next week.”

I groaned.

Maybe next week, this exercise will be easier. Maybe I won’t have so much to think about. Maybe Mom will have another heart-to-heart talk with my butt and maybe it will be more cooperative.

Maybe I can convince Mom that canting to starboard isn’t such a bad thing after all.

This image is from the user squishy and is available
under the
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