Dani and I had adventures this morning.  I wanted to take her out in the front seat of the car, so I dug through my drawer of dog paraphernalia and found a doggie harness that works with a seat belt.  So with Dani properly belted in and riding shotgun, we went to the bank, where she was rewarded with a doggie biscuit.  We then went through the drive-thru at the drugstore because I needed some allergy medicine.  The guy at the window said I couldn’t get my pills at the drive thru because I had to sign this electronic thing to prove I’m not operating a meth lab (as if I had time!)  I gestured to Dani in the next seat.  “But I have my dog!”

He shrugged. “You can bring her in and let her ride in a cart.”

Really? Well, why not.  So I parked the car, ran inside the store and grabbed a buggy, then unbuckled Dani and struggled to get her into the tiny little Walgreens shopping cart.  Even with a towel on the bottom as pad-

dani dignified

Dani, sitting nicely.

ding, she didn’t much care for it, but she’s a good girl, so she rode along.  (Keep in mind that she’s about 50 pounds now).  I hurried down an aisle, then found this man following me. “What aisle did you find THAT in?” he asked, grinning.  🙂   Nice man.

So we got our medicines, went back to the car, and came home, though I had to smile because I doubt she’ll fit into that buggy ever again.  Next up for us–our daily trip to the neighborhood park.

Though Dani and I only made it to four of our six obedience classes, we learned quite a few lessons.  Fortunately for me, my little Dani is extremely food motivated, which means she’ll do almost anything for a treat.  We are careful not to overfeed mastiff puppies because we don’t want them growing too fast or placing too much weight on those rapidly-forming bones.  So Dani always thinks she’s starving (though I promise she’s not).

Every morning I take her to the park on a “working walk,” and once we hit the park we practice our lessons.  SIT.  (She’s got this one down pat.) DOWN.  (She does this if she’s expecting a treat.)  TOUCH.  She leaps up to touch whichever hand I have extended, wherever I have extended it.  I know there’s a practical application to this lesson, but I think we missed that class.)  WAIT.   (It took Dani a while to get this one–a signal given while walking, which requires her to stop pulling and simply stop in her tracks, but she’s got it now).

And then there’s the dreaded LEAVE IT.  To do this, I make Dani sit, then I step on her leash so she can’t move forward.  Then I stretch as far as I can in the opposite direction and drop a little pile of her favorite treats on the ground.  Dani’s impulse, of course, is to go straight for the treats, but she can’t, because I’m stepping on her leash.  She strains, I show her the signal–a closed fist–and repeat “LEAVE IT.”  She strains again, and again I  signal and give the command.  She often gets up, which only makes things worse, because then she has to sit and go down again.

Once or twice she has actually gotten away from me–or my foot slipped–and she got the treats without my giving the TAKE IT command.  While she gobbles them up, I shake my head and sigh because I know this means I have to do the entire exercise all over again.  The exercise does no good if she doesn’t learn to obey.

So we SIT, DOWN, I drop the treats and give the LEAVE IT command.  She’s at the point now where she’ll sit calmly for my first command.  But when I go to reinforce it with a second signal and LEAVE IT, she lunges ahead for the food and we have to start over again. When she can successfully sit through at least two LEAVE ITs, I give her the open hand sign and tell her, OKAY, TAKE IT!

LEAVE IT is an important command-it’s what protects your dog if you spot something poisonous or dangerous or harmful on the ground, because dogs are curious and will eat/investigate almost anything.  So I’m going to teach my dogs to LEAVE IT even if we have to practice every day of our lives.

When I’m working with Dani on her lessons, I can’t help thinking about all the times I saw something yummy in the distance and strained toward it, even though I heard my loving heavenly Master say LEAVE IT.  How many times have I ignored a SIT, STAY, or DOWN in my hurry to get my to-do list finished?

I’ll admit that LEAVE IT is one of the hardest commands to learn. LEAVE  IT–leave that bigger house, that nicer car, that new opportunity, that flirtation, that fancy gizmo I don’t need, that indulgence, that habit, that self-centered dream–LEAVE IT is not an easy command to obey.  But if Jesus is really the Lord of my life, then he must be the master.

But when I have been successful–when I have learned to stay sitting with an ear cocked for my Master’s voice–how many times have I heard his smiling voice say, “Okay, TAKE IT!”

I will never think my dogs are stupid, no matter how many times we have to practice a command.  Because I know from experience how difficult unquestioning obedience can be. 🙂



  1. Susan

    LEAVE IT also applies to relationships, I think – especially when I want to resolve differences RIGHT NOW because of my own deep need to have no conflict, ever, anywhere – those are the hard LEAVE IT’s for me. Especially when it involves people I love, but if God is telling me they need time, I try my hardest to listen.

    Great post, Angie, and my goodness, what a beautiful dog.

  2. kathy

    I bet you made that guy’s day when he asked you which aisle you got her on. I would have loved to see Dani in the cart.

  3. Barb Haley

    Felt God’s “Fatherly Love” in these words. I have been praying daily for something, asking God not to give it to me unless and until HE knows I’m ready for it. Made me cry, thinking of God holding my leash and protecting me from the wrong answer. Reminded me of the peace in waiting on His perfect timing. Thanks, Angie!

  4. Iris Millett

    My sister’s dog will do anything for a baby carrot.

  5. Anita Sanders

    I am so blessed that you have our Dani for so many reasons. Thank you for sharing your talent and your heart.


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