By Lisa Peterson
Bruno and I were minding our own business on a walk around the hotel at the Norwegian Elkhound National Specialty in 1996 when a friend spotted us and said, “Hey, come take the Canine Good Citizen test, it’s right over here.” I had no idea what this was, in fact, I didn’t even know the 10-steps prior to signing up for the challenge. Bruno - an AKC Champion who had just turned 4 - and I had been training to start Novice obedience a few months earlier, so I though why not, he can sit and stay and heel.
We entered the ring ready to begin. I got nervous. Bruno took one look at me with his big brown cow eyes as if to say, “What’s the big deal? I can do this.” And off we went. The more steps we completed, the more fun Bruno and I were having. Each completed test item brought lots of praise and attention to him, which he loved. And it showed me that the training we had done at home was paying off in a public setting among friendly strangers. Anyone who has ever tried to train a dog has said this phrase: “But he does it so well at home.” We breezed through the tests and passed. Yay! It was a great feeling of accomplishment that gave me the incentive to try our hand in the Novice A obedience classes. Roughly six months later Bruno competed in his first trial and received a qualifying score. We were on our way to a our Companion Dog title.
If it wasn’t for that spontaneous CGC test I may not have embraced the next step so easily with confidence. I remember the pride I had in Bruno as the evaluator filled out our CGC certificate. She brought a portable typewriter to the test to individually fill-in each dog’s name and owner before she signed the certificate. What thoughtfulness! It’s great to see how this program, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has grown. So far, more than 665,000 have taken the same first step in a fabulous bonding experience with their dogs. CGC enabled confidence to succeed and good manners, whether the dogs were hanging out with the family at home or entering the competitive show world. Happy Anniversary Canine Good Citizen program!
Learn more about the Canine Good Citizen program here.