Yep you heard that right! I know I mentioned it in July that Shayne was going for her CGC… well I was a bad dog-mom and missed the sign up date. I had planned on waiting until the next test at that facility in October but an event I went to this weekend decided to bring in an evaluator. I wasn’t sure how well she’d do because it was a HUGE event, lots of dogs, lots of people, lots of high-drive dogs (lure coursing was a big event there), and being in a totally new place. It was $20 but all of that was being donated to the rescue so I figured worst-case scenario some greyhounds will be helped.
I have sat here and typed and deleted about a dozen starting lines to this paragraph and still cannot quite put into words what I want to say in the way I want to say it. So just imagine some flowery and beautiful language that says: “I cannot believe we’ve finally gotten to this point. I am so proud of her!” I was quite literally fighting back tears as I tied on her CGC bandana and the evaluator snapped a picture to add to their CGC wall of success. Like a beauty queen, I had imagined this day for so long but was never really sure we’d get there, so it was such an amazing feeling to finally achieve our goal. Not just achieve our goal but get some really high praise from the evaluator (who really fell in love with Shayne). I knew she was capable of doing all the behaviors but the variables of environment and evaluator made things a little more precarious–my main concern was with the supervised separation… we had practiced the dog greeting so many times that it was no longer concerning to me.
The testing was starting about 3 hrs after we arrived at the event and I figured that would give Shayne plenty of time to acclimate and burn off some excess energy before testing (and give me a chance to both work her really well but also get an idea for how she is doing). I watched the dog before us go and the evaluator (who was a woman) was very natural when interacting with the dog and was very sweet natured which is the type of person Shayne is most friendly with–awesome! The dog was a young Boston who did pretty well, but ultimately the evaluator didn’t pass the dog. Initially this made me a little worried–she was very ‘by the book’ but I figured… “Oh well, I already paid… let’s just go for it.” In the end, I was really glad that she earned her CGC not through a fluke or a bending of the rules. I know that a strict evaluator deemed her skills appropriate to get the title and that our progress was totally validated (not that I needed it, but it’s nice nonetheless)!
We went through the entire test without so much as a hiccup. The supervised separation had me worried for two reasons 1. the separation 2. someone else handling Shayne in an environment ripe with uneducated dog owners who let their dogs get all up in the business of other dogs left and right. I told the evaluator to be “mindful” that Shayne likes her space and isn’t pleased when dogs invade that space–she said she had an Aussie and BC that had similar quirks. I walked away and just hoped for the best. When I came back, Shayne was just sitting there looking in my direction like a good girl and the evaluator was filling out our passing paperwork! Then I had a moment of tears as Shayne came rushing back to me. I was so proud of her… I was blown away how well she did and how far we’d come and how much of a life-changing dog she has been.
I got to thinking about where we started and I figured that I’d write a bit about each skill.
1. Accepting a friendly stranger
(before) Bark and back up as the stranger approaches if it is a woman (even with no interest in her). If it is a man she would lunge, bark, back-up, lunge, bark, back-up etc. If the woman continued to approach she’d try to spin out of her collar. Honestly I wouldn’t let men approach so I’m not entirely sure what she would do…
(Now) Stranger approached, Shayne broke her sit to go sniff the woman while wagging her tail gently (a happy wag). Once she had a quick sniff she returned to sitting.
2. Sitting politely for petting (from stranger)
Before: They couldn’t get close enough TO pet her. If the person was a woman and ignored her for long enough, she would approach but not be pet.
Now: She sat there and nuzzled closer to the stranger who was kneeling down in a very natural manner. She stayed in her sit but was clearly enjoying the petting.
3. Appearance and Grooming
Before: Wouldn’t allow a stranger to get this close. At the vets office she would tolerate this type of maneuvering because of learned helplessness… she would pretty much just be catatonic and let the vets do what they want.
Now: She accepted the brushing no problem, she wasn’t terribly happy about having her feet picked up (did a look away), did a quick lip lick after having her teeth looked at, and was fine with her ears being messed with. No attempts to move away and the leash was loose enough she could have without a problem.
4. Out for a walk (loose leash walking)
Before: Shayne pulled like a tank. She’d either be rushing ahead in crazy criss-crossing patterns or trying to twist out of her collar backwards.
Now: It wasn’t her best focused heel but she walked on a nice loose leash around the ‘course’ with only a moment of concentrated sniffing (it was a tree that had probably been peed on a lot!).
5. Walking through a crowd
Before: Shayne would be pulling to avoid people in the crowd–to the left, to the right, just away from the people. Sometimes she’d get very clingy to me but not reliably.
Now: Shayne walked up the crowded walkway and back. She passed people, dogs, kids, adults, men, women, even a golf cart that was right next to her.
6. Sit and down on command and stay in place
Before: She didn’t have a sit or a down when I adopted her … and she never stayed in place for long LOL! But she had a sit and a down quite quickly
Now: This was obviously no problem. She can sit and down-stay like a champ.
7. Coming when called
Before: She didn’t have much of a recall… but at the same time she wouldn’t venture far from me in general (I was safe, the rest of the world was not).
Now: not a problem at all… I handed the leash to the evaluator and walked to the other side of the ‘ring’ and that was enough to have her pulling on the leash to get to me LOL!
8. Reaction to another dog
Before: She was very interested in other dogs and wanted to see them but at the same time was fearful and would react to them getting close. She would pull to see the other dog then change her mind.
Now: She walked passed the dog like he wasn’t there (a big sweet Bernese Mountain Dog). and was such a good girl!
9. Reaction to distraction
Before: Holy Cow… I dropped a spoon and she’d go running and hiding. I’d move funny and she’d dodge out of the way. Open and umbrella and she’d leave the room …
Now: Ignored the clanging of metal bowls and checked out each bowl that was dropped (making sure there was no food left behind LOL!)
10. Supervised Separation
Before: Initially she couldn’t care less about me…but she quickly became rather attached to me and is quite a velcro dog.
Now: Today was probably the best I’d seen (maybe she really just doesn’t believe that I’d leave her anywhere). She walked with the evaluator to the table and just sat there staring in my direction … no whining, panting, or panicking… just waiting.
Even in writing this, I had a few very teary moments where I had to stop writing to take a minute and reflect. Just thinking of how far we’ve come and what we’ve overcome makes this CGC so special. I’m watching Shayne sleep wearing her CGC bandana and I’m just so thankful this little dog came into my life. I’m so proud of her and just amazed at what she’s been able to overcome.