Sunday, January 3, 2010

Canine Good Citizen

I am hoping Zachary earns his AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certificate this year, and thus you will find us studying for it quite a bit during the early months of this year. For those not familiar with the CGC, it contains the following ten items.

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger
  2. Sitting politely for petting
  3. Appearance and grooming
  4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
  5. Walking through a crowd
  6. Sit and down on command and Staying in place
  7. Coming when called
  8. Reaction to another dog
  9. Reaction to distraction
  10. Supervised separation

I have no doubt that for many dogs, the above is a piece of cake. I’m sure there are dogs who can walk into the test, obediently at their beloved owner’s side, and breeze right through all items without ever having studied at all.

I do not own one of those dogs.

I suppose it’s only natural to recall previous journeys when about to embark anew, and so I find myself thinking back four years…

It was a labor of love (or possibly insanity) on my part to get Beau’s CGC, requiring two full sets of classes (six weeks of Sundays, each) totaling $256. No, he didn’t pass the first time. Let’s just say that ignoring people was… hard… for my immature, exuberant, and overly friendly two-year old Golden boy.

I remember the instructor offering to hold Beau’s leash while I practiced leaving the room for the supervised separation. Thankfully those left behind were able to corral him again after he pulled the leash out of her hands. The next time we practiced she gave the leash to a guy who couldn’t have weighed under 250lb. He noted upon my return how strong my dog pulled to follow after me (and never touched the leash again.)

I have a clear memory of suggesting to the instructor that she should stare at the wall - the one on her right as we past on her left - and to not even think of smiling, in hopes that for once he wouldn’t try to leap up and kiss her as we walked by.

It’s a good thing I kept an iron grip on my 80lb rocket.

I remember wondering, right before the first time we took the test, if I should have worn a “Do Not Smile At My Dog” T-Shirt as a not-so-subliminal message (warning?) to the poor unsuspecting tester.

It wouldn’t have helped.

Beau held it together until the grooming part (all the way to Test #3 of 10) then rolled over for a belly rub as soon as the “friendly stranger” tried to pick up his paws. We aren’t talking a partial roll or a fearful roll. No, this was an all-four-paws-in-the-air-wiggling-with-pure-delight sort of roll, showing all the parts that God gave him while he was at it.

He has no pride whatsoever.

I am sure there were many other priceless memories formed doing those first six weeks, which are now thankfully lost in the same black hole where childbirth memories go. His second set of six classes was unremarkable, as was his second test (for the most part) save the final moment when I realized he had actually passed.

Skip forward three years and it was Zachary’s turn, enrolled in his first CGC class at the tender age of 8 months. Wendy is fond of reminding me that Zachary is not Beau, and that may be true, but after six weeks of classes Zachary didn’t pass his first CGC test either. Of course, at such a young age, we never really expected that he would. Zachary did manage to keep all four on the floor, but alas, his butt had to stay there too and it popped up faster than water on hot oil. I think the “stranger” said something like, “Gee, a friendly Golden, what a shock.”

At least he didn’t keep me in suspense as to whether he would pass or not. That was Test #1 of 10.

It’s now a year later, and the time has come once again to seriously consider the CGC test. I even drew up a plan this time to help us prepare.

I’m thinking that the only real problem is going to be #10 (he’s a big momma’s boy) but anything with a dog (#8) or another human (#1-3, 5) is going to trip his friendly trigger. Then there’s his tendency to bark at strange sounds (#9), follow his nose (#4), and anticipate commands (#6-7).

Oh, dear.

They say those forgotten memories of childbirth pain return when you are having your second child. Given what I do remember about CGC classes and tests, I can hardly wait to rediscover the gems I have forgotten.

1 comment:

Lorac said...

What a great goal! I have one of "those dogs" who walked in with me and passed a dog therapy test, which includes CGC. However, I have a few friends with HIGHLY trained dogs that can't pass it. One thing I have learned with my current dog is that every dog, no matter how wonderfully and perfectly it "exhibits" (in daily life or dog agility, which is my main thing) has some issue! By seeking out those people with dogs that have similar issues to my own dog, I found more help and great support.
I love your videos and updates on Levels Training. I've started LT myself, because I like having some structure and am focusing on filling in the gaps of useful "commands". (I dislike the terms "commands" and "obedience", but haven't figured out alternatives).

Your dogs are gorgeous, your humour enjoyable, your progress inspiring. Good on 'ya.