Many years ago, I went through the CGC test with Cooper. But I’ve been avoiding it with Tooey for years now because she often take an inexplicable dislike for some dogs. I know some of the kinds of dogs she doesn’t like: dogs with pushed-in faces and pushy bitches. But I can’t always predict which dogs she’ll like and which she doesn’t. So I’ve been avoiding CGC tests because participants can’t predict or control which kind of dog their dog will encounter during the test.
On the other hand, the chairwoman of this year’s IWSCA National Specialty encouraged me to enter. And Tooey is usually on her best behavior at Irish Water Spaniel events. As another IWS person said, IWS know their own. So I entered, and we lucked out. The dog she tested with was the mellow, veteran IWS boy, Presley, whom she ignored and who politely ignored her. And because of that and her past training, Tooey earned her Canine Good Citizen ribbon.
If you’re not familiar with the test, here is a recap:
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
Tooey sat politely when I asked her to, and stayed sitting while the evaluator, playing the “friendly stranger,” approached from the side. Tooey ignored her. Tooey was busy watching prairie dog holes, waiting for a rodent head to pop out.
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
And she stayed sitting while the woman petted her topknot briefly. Tooey was still watching for prairie dogs.
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
Tooey is quite practiced at this, having let many, many people brush her over the years. She just sat there and let her ears be looked at, a brush be run down her back, and her front feet picked up. She did briefly look at the evaluator to assess what was going on, but then went back to watching for prairie dogs.
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
This one was easy. I gave Tooey the “right here” command (our version of a loose heel), and she walked right with me: right turn, left turn, about turn, and stop.
Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
Tooey did this perfectly. She sat and downed just wonderfully. Then, I put her in a Sit and Wait, and walked the 20 feet away. When I turned around to come back, he was sitting there, straight and proud, just like the princess she is.
Test 7: Coming when called
I put Tooey in a Sit and Wait and walked 10 feet away. I turned around to see that proud princess pose again, and when I called her, she trotted directly to me. Not into front position as in obedience competitions, but that’s not required. I think by now the prairie dogs were temporarily forgotten.
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
This is the exercise because of which I’ve been avoiding the test for Tooey. Walking in control around other dogs is not predictably easy. In this test, we had to walk up next to another person/dog team, then have Tooey sit and ignore both the other dog and the other person, me shake hands with the person, and then both teams walk on. Presley was very calm, as I expected. That probably calmed me down as well.
Normally, participants don’t get to pick their test dog, but Presley was handy, so I (strongly) suggested him. He was perfect. (Thank you, Jill, for volunteering for Tooey’s test.)
Test 5: Walking through a crowd and Test 9: Reaction to distraction
For these tests, which were combined, there were four people: one in a wheelchair, one walking with a cane, one walking with a walker, and walking around one holding two stainless steel bowls. As they milled around, Tooey and I walked around in the group. She jumped just very slightly when the two bowls came crashing down, making a noise, but behaved quite calmly otherwise.
Test 10: Supervised separation
Tooey did this beautifully. I took her over to the volunteer, and told Tooey “here’s a friend”, “wait”, and “I’ll be back”. For years, whenever I have to leave the dogs, I’ve been saying, “I’ll be back”, and then, I always come back. So for this test, when I walked away out of sight, Tooey knew I’d be back. I had to stay out of sight for 3 very long minutes. The volunteer told me that Tooey just sat there perfectly, not even moving a foot.
I showered Tooey with praise, and after picking up our ribbon, ran off to get Tooey some treats, and then let her take me on-leash prairie dog hunting again.