We were recently visiting with our dear friends, the Zumwalts, and learned that Bert, the Perfect Poodle is preparing to go out for The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certificate. Since our Bubbles didn’t come with papers and she doesn’t even have a dog license, we thought it might lend her some legitimacy if we went for it, too.
Doing a little research online, I learned that CGC is a certification program that rewards dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. Already doubtful but undeterred, I read further: “As you work with your dog to teach the CGC skills, you’ll discover the many benefits and joys of training your dog.” Joys? “Dogs who have a solid obedience education… fully enjoy the company of the owner who took the time to provide training, intellectual stimulation, and a high quality life.”
Somehow, I don’t think Bubbles will enjoy my company any more for putting her through this (nor will she thank me). As for mental stimulation, she gets a lot of that playing mind games with me and trying my patience. And she probably has a higher quality of life than any other dog on earth.
We ran the idea of the CGC program past a few folks. “Aunt Marcia” asked how many chances they’d give Bubbles, which I found unsettling. Forging on, though, I printed out a copy of the ten CGC challenges, and sat down with Bubb to review them.
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger. Bubbles’ earliest recollection of a friendly stranger is the vet, so anyone happy to see her is automatically suspect. I think we have to pass all 10 of the tests. We’ll come back to this one…
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting. Hmmmm. Not likely. The only time I’ve ever seen Bubb sit quietly was while stalking a cat, but I’m pretty sure we can’t bring props. “This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it…”. Darn, now we’re back to the “friendly stranger” problem.
Test 3: Appearance and grooming. My hubby John would have to be up for this. Bubb does not go to the groomer. We negotiated that on the tenth lap around my car at her only trip to the doggy spa about nine years ago.
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead). “This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog.” No one has ever accused me of being in control of my dog. When Bubb wants to go on a walk, she’s six feet ahead of me. When she doesn’t, she’s six feet behind. But I guess it’s never too late to try.
Test 5: Walking through a crowd . . . without over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. This could be a problem, too. As tough a taskmaster as she is at home, Bubb’s a wimp outside – unless there’s another dog trespassing on her street, and then she threatens to tear him apart.
Things weren’t looking too good, and we were only halfway through the list. I wondered if Bert, the Perfect Poodle, tutored. The rest of the test included coming when called, sitting on command, and behaving while separated from owner (none of which I’ve ever known Bubb to do). Then I read the following: “Failures – Dismissals. Any dog that growls… or attempts to attack a person or another dog is not a good citizen and must be dismissed from the test.” Uh-oh.
It suddenly seemed perfectly clear to me that trying out Bubb for the certificate would defeat our original purpose. What if, in addition to not having “papers” or a dog license, Bubb actually had a record – for being “not a good citizen”?
So, with a huge sigh of relief, I gave up on the whole idea. Bubb may be a sub-standard poodle and a questionable citizen, but she is enjoying life fully on her own terms. As for me and John, however…
Cathy Turney is a real estate broker in Concord and a volunteer for Northern California Poodle Rescue. You can read more of her “Tales of a Codependent Pet Owner” at http://codependentpetowner.blogspot.com.