LESLIE CRISS: No ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ played, but plenty of pride to go around

“A dog teaches fidelity, perseverance and to turn around three times before lying down.”
– Robert Benchley

“Dogs like to obey. It gives them security.”
– James Herriot

In mid-April I attended a
graduation.
There were no sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.”
No famous commencement speaker encouraged lofty goals or high aspirations.
No one achieved the cum laude status – summa or magna.
Though the class in question began with about eight students, the rigorous class requirements of Professor Stacey seemed to send all but two running with their tails tucked between their legs.
To receive a diploma, each student had only to accomplish a short list of tasks: Sit. Down. Stay. Come. Leave it in the hand. Leave it on the ground.
Duke the Great Dane went first, following each command with perfection.
I sat on a stool watching, holding a red leash tightly in my right hand and praying fervently that my pup would pass.
On the other end of the leash, George watched as well, ever tentative of the size of his extra tall classmate.
When it was our turn, I led George, a mixture of Lhasa apso, Jack Russell and who knows what else, to the center of the circle.
“Sit,” I told my brown-eyed boy.
George sat. And I sighed with relief.
“Down,” I commanded.
And down he went. Yes.
Next I put a dog treat in my palm, put it in front of his furry face and told him to “leave it.” He did.
Then I placed treats on the floor in front of him and told him to leave them all alone. Again, he complied.
When I told George to stay as I took a step away from him, he squirmed a little. I took another step and he came after me.
We tried it again and again. He’d done it at home. He’d done it in the preceding weeks.
But at that moment in time, with his diploma riding on it, he was not, by golly, going to stay.
He finally sat still just long enough for Stacey to kindly proclaim him a graduate.
George and Duke posed (separately, of course) for photos in their mortarboards with their diplomas clutched between their teeth, thanks to a tasty treat taped to the rolled paper.
There’ll be no higher education for George, unless he regresses and we decide to go back to class.
Still and yet, graduation was a proud moment indeed.
For my fuzzy faced puppy with no pedigree.
And me.

Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or leslie.criss@djournal.com.

 

NEMS Daily Journal