I’ve worked at the AKC for quite some time. And other than while at college, I have never been without a dog. (Even then I managed to pick up a stray and keep her hidden in my dorm room until I could get her to my parents’ house.) So as one of the AKC’s more seasoned staff members and a lifelong dog owner, I should be a skilled, experienced owner, right? Right. Except, well, wrong.
Reggie is a good dog. A Miniature Pinscher-Chihuahua-mix, he is proudly enrolled in the AKC’s Canine Partners program, has taken agility classes, and even shown off his beginner agility skills at the AKC’s Meet the Breeds event. So when I volunteered with Reggie at one of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program’s meet-ups in New York City, I assumed I would represent my employer well, and show the “non-experts” how to help their dogs become well-behaved members of their community. The CGC is a program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the 10-step CGC test can receive a certificate from the AKC.
One of the items is “Sit and Dow on Command and Staying in Place.” This requires that your dog stay in place while you walk 20 feet away from him. Even though we’d never practiced for it, I planned to take the test. I can tell a Briard from a Bouvier and I know what it means for a male dog to be “intact.” So what could go wrong? A lot, as it turns out. My bright idea was to put Reggie in the “sit” position, hold a treat in front of his nose, slowly walk backward with my other hand in the “stop” position, while saying, “Stay. Stay. Staaaaaay.” He promptly stood up and followed the treat. Of course. That didn’t stop me from trying the same technique another 9 times, each with the same result. A couple of my AKC colleagues looked away, probably wondering if I was rehearsing the “before” for a “before and after” dog-training video.
Finally one of them took pity on me (or, more likely, didn’t want to see the organization so poorly represented), and helped me to figure out that Reggie would be the perfect gentleman if I simply put him in the “sit,” calmly walked away, turned and faced him, and called him to me, offering the treat as a reward. He ended up passing his CGC with flying colors. In spite of me.
Stayed tuned for more “Confessions of an AKC Staffer.” Next up: Hazel lunges at another dog and I pretend I work at a bank.