Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Obedience (01/31/05)
TITLE: Sam's Obedience School
By LK Davis
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"I'm sorry AnaBelle. Sam didn't mean to scare you. He doesn't understand that he's not supposed to jump on people when they come to the house. Sally, you and AnaBelle go on in. Joyce is in the living room waiting on y'all." Milt stepped outside, closed the door, and glared at him sternly. "Sam, I've warned you over and over," Milt said, and went to get an object from the shed.
Sam was a German Shepherd unwanted by his original owner, yet he perceived he found the perfect home with Milt and his wife, Joyce. They lived outside of the city in a big country house sitting on 10 acres of land in which a dog could just run and explore. No longer forced to endure starvation and neglect, Sam now enjoyed days filled with nourishing meals, walks with Milt, and affectionate rubs and baby-talk from Joyce. Oh how Sam loved Milt! He loved to look at him and feel his approval. However, when Milt returned, the look in his eyes did not convey that longed-for approval. Instead, they held a warning of -- "WHAP!" Instantly, the sting of the rod could be felt on Sam's shoulder. "WHAP!" Owch, now the pain was on his back. What was going on here? Didn't Milt love him? Sam didn't know what hurt more -- the rod or the feeling that Milt didn't love him.
"Sam, you are going to have to learn that you cannot jump on people," Milt said before turning to go back into the house. Sam was so confused and wondered why Milt was hurting him. He whimpered and skulked away to a corner of the porch, afraid to triggering another chastening from Milt. Yet, later that day, Milt shouted "C'mere boy", his normal signal that it was time for a go for a walk or to play. It seemed that his master was no longer angry at him and all was well…
"WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!" Sam bellowed in earnest, desiring that Milt would just throw that rod away. If Sam were honest, he had to admit that Milt didn't hit him hard, but he bellowed all the more, hoping to elicit a sympathetic response from Joyce. Much to his delight, Joyce did come to the door. "Milt, what is going on out here? Our company will think Sam's dying out here!"
"He keeps jumping on our guests when they try to approach the door," Milt said dejectedly. "I hate to think what he does when I'm not here. If he keeps this up, no one will want to come visit us! He can just keep jumping on people, Joyce. That's not acceptable behavior."
"You're right Milt. I trust you to do what it takes to help Sam understand", she said as she turned back into the house. With all hope of rescue gone, Sam slunked back to his favorite spot on the porch, feeling utterly betrayed by Milt.
The whippings with the rod went on for a few weeks. Milt was tempted to give up, because it tore his heart to see the hurt and confusion in Sam's eyes every time he had to use the rod on him. However, he knew if he couldn't break Sam from jumping on their company, he would become a real danger as a full-grown dog and be perceived as very frightening and aggressive. Milt knew Sam's true character, his ability to be very affectionate, but his undisciplined behavior did not allow their guests to see it. "Heavenly Father, you're gonna have to help Sam understand, because if he doesn't, we'll have to give him away," Milt prayed with tears in his eyes…
Milt and Sam were sitting on the porch enjoying the late afternoon breeze. A car lumbered up the driveway. AnaBelle was back! Sam recognized her from a few weeks ago. He was so happy to see the little girl, someone else to play with. As she stepped out of the car, he prepared to greet her in his customary style. However, this time, he miraculously made the connection. Sam understood at that moment that it was only when he jumped on company, that Milt had to hit him with the rod. Sam stayed by Milt's side and looked at him intently, as if to say, "I won't disappoint you this time."
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