In the 20 years Canine Good Citizen (CGC) testing has been around, over 1 million dogs have earned their CGC certificate. Humans and dogs of all ages can participate in this foundational test, including dogs as old as 16+! As we say, a dog is never too old to learn new tricks. When six-year-old German Shepard Dog Marquesa (Quesa) passed her CGC, she was in her prime — not yet a senior. So, from afar, this may not seem like a huge accomplishment. But Quesa’s owner has a special story. She’s 99 years old.
At nearly 100, Lucy (Lee) Ober-Silvery trained Quesa to pass her CGC test. And this wasn’t her first time in front of a CGC judge — Quesa is Lee’s 16th dog to earn the title.
Lee has been a member of the Mount Diablo Training Club, Inc. in Concord, California since 1959 (the dedicated club is celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year!) In her 60 years in the club, Lee trained her 16 dogs to participate in CGC, Conformation, and Obedience.
While all of Lee’s dogs have been memorable, she does have a few favorite moments. “One of my favorite breeds, a Keeshond who answered to the name of Autumn Harvest (Harvey), was a Canada and U.S. Breed Champion,” Lee explains.
The Challenges of CGC, Even at 99
After training more than a dozen dogs to earn their CGC, it must become easy, right? Well, Lee knows firsthand how difficult it can be, no matter how much experience she has! Quesa and Lee faced their own challenges. “The stay is the hardest part (for Quesa). She wants to be with me. She doesn’t want to stay away from me,” Lee says.
CGC Evaluator and Mt. Diablo Training Director Lee Ann Moreland has seen Quesa and Lee’s companionship grow first hand. “Everyone knows my age and they are surprised,” Lee says while reminiscing with Lee Ann.
When Lee was asked if Quesa makes her feel young, she laughed. “In a way, I think she does. I have to be active to keep her active. I take a one-hour Scent Work class each week,” Lee says.
Lee Ann describes Lee as an inspiration to each club member. “She is active, still rides her three-wheel bike, and even swims,” she says. Lee has shown her dogs in Conformation and Obedience over the years, earning many championships and titles.
CGC is a great starting point for every dog owner looking to train their dog or get involved in AKC sports. The program is a perfect foundation for activities like Obedience, Rally, and Agility. Lee’ advice for getting started in sports? “Dog owners need to train at least once per day at home or in the park. Take classes so that you can be corrected.”
Lee also has some advice for her younger self, who began training for Canine Good Citizen ever since it began. “Seek help in training earlier than I did. I did a lot on my own and on the streets. In El Cerrito, California I read a book on training with my first Shepherd and that’s how I got started.”
Sixteen dogs and 99 years later, Lee exemplifies the message of Canine Good Citizen — no dog or person is ever too old to earn their CGC.