On a balmy Saturday in June, three Leonbergers and two Samoyeds completed one of the first group AKC Urban Canine Good Citizen (CGC) tests in the nation. The new test assesses a dog's ability to manage tasks that city-dwellers may face every day, such as using public transportation, navigating crowded streets, and waiting calmly in public establishments.
In Boston, that involves traveling by subway. In most cities, only small dogs in carriers or service dogs are allowed on public transportation. The Boston T is one of the few rail systems in North America that allows large pet dogs to ride, even if they are, as in the case of the Leonbergers, as big or bigger than most of the two-legged passengers.
The five dogs and handlers gathered in Boston’s pet-friendly Liberty Hotel, known for its summertime "Yappier Hour," a weekly canine/human cocktail party. Immediately, guests of the hotel started to stop by, asking questions and greeting the pile of fluffy dogs. All were happy to visit with their new admirers. This informal gathering fulfilled one of the requirements for the test, in which a person carrying a bag walks up and pets the dog.
CGC Evaluator Teri Bright and her assistant took each dog-and-owner team through its paces around the hotel and surrounding streets of Boston—in elevators and stairwells, across streets, and through high-traffic areas. Despite the warm weather, all teams passed with flying colors!
Dace Krasts and her dog Rosie, a therapy dog who specializes in hospice work, also completed their CGC exam, the prerequisite to CGCU and Community Canine tests, on the same day.
When the testing was complete, most of the dogs and owners made their way home in true urban canine style—the subway.
Congratulations to the new CGCU qualifiers!
Tina Winkler and Heart of Gold's He's So Hot, CGCA, CGCU (Tarquin)
Dace Krasts and Rosie Roo, CGCU (Rosie)
Pamela Isaacson and G.Ch. Corleone Joyful Burton, CGCA, CGCU (Burton)
Kathryn Astrofsky and Bivvilis Queen of Hearts, CGCU (Raina)
Dana Sullivan and Ch. Skilo Bear's Ivy League CGCU (Harvard)
These are the 10 exercises for the urban CGC. Do you think your dog is ready to show off his street smarts?
1. Exit/enter doorway with no pulling in dog-friendly buildings. Exit building to start test, additional Public buildings items are below.
2. Walk through a crowd on a busy urban sidewalk.
*People come toward the dog from one foot away
*Tolerate distractions (people wearing hats, coats, men, women, etc).
3. Appropriate reaction to city distractions. This includes movement, noises, and walking on a variety of surfaces. Examples:
* Noises: horns, sirens, construction noise, etc.
* Moving objects: skateboard, bike, carts, person running
* Surfaces: concrete, grass, grates, plastic tarp, wet sidewalk
4. Crossing street: Stop at corner, stand or sit to wait and cross with no pulling (on leash, with owner). Crosses street under control.
5. Ignore food on sidewalk. (Dropped food, or cups, bags, cans, in which food was wrapped).
6. Person walks up and pets the dog. May be carrying an item such as a small dog in a bag, a computer bag, etc. Person does not put the bag down to pet the dog.
7. Public Building (that is dog friendly). Walks under control in building (slick surface, carpeted floor). Down stay (3 min) in lobby or outdoor area, or waits while owner has a meal or snack.
8. Stairs, steps, or elevator under control.
* Steps (at least three, up and down)
* Elevator (enters under control, exits, rides under control)
9. Housetrained for apartment, condo, city living. Owner may verify this item. Evaluator may also observe in public buildings, or have observed in training classes.
10. Transportation. Owner’s choice depending on transportation needs.
* Car. Enters/exits, remains under control during the ride. (Crate? Seatbelt?)
* Subway. Small dog in bag for ride.
--Photos and text by Pamela Gifford Isaacson