The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Handy if it works. I've heard tell that there are dogs that have been taught to stay even if there's raw meat six feet in front of them. That's got to go against every strand in dog DNA. I'd have imagined that even if you could get the dog's body to stay put, its brain would leap out of its skull, bounce across the lawn, and start gnawing on the steak with its medulla. It just goes to show the power of a charismatic primate. B+

"Fetch" obviously enough, isn't the trick. The trick is "Having fetched, bring the object back and actually let me have it, rather than turning this into a rousing game of 'hand vs. jaw.'" The really cool fetchers are the frisbee fetchers, the ones that throw themselves up into the air with wild abandon and look like they should be in an ad for some translucent-green citrus sports drink or another. It's a great sport, and yet it's the only one that hasn't been featured on ESPN2 yet. B

Play Dead
Isn't this kind of morbid? Outside of heart-wrenching family films, what is the appeal here? Do the people who train their dogs to play dead also teach them tricks like "fake a bad case of roundworms"? Or is this just the trick that comes free with every dog, given that "play dead" is basically equivalent to "lie on the ground and ignore all non-food stimuli"? D

I've known many dogs who are trained to sit given only the subtle physical signal of grabbing their hindquarters and shoving them downward forcefully. The signal for "lie down" takes two people, and the signal for "heel" involves waiting patiently for your dog to get bored with whatever it's chasing, sniffing, and/or marking. C+

This, like many tricks, is based on the dog's intrinsic faith that food may suddenly become available at any time, so you have to follow up all your leads. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that the sorts of dogs who trot around the circle at British dog shows do this and other tricks out of fierce loyalty to the Alpha Mammal, but your average neighborhood-roaming sloppy dog is working on the knowledge that humans produce food at unpredictable intervals. But hey, whatever works. C

This can be kind of fun, although it goes along with "Beg" into the class of "Tricks it Would Be More Impressive to Teach Your Dog Not to Do." I've lived next to dogs that had gone way past "speak" into "filibuster." C-

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