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BGs: How Deep Is Your Love?

Callie is a 1-year-old Brussels Griffon living in Marlow, New Hampshire, with her owner Karin Strickland. Karin had recently lost her 13-year-old Boston Terrier, Sammie, and she knew she needed another dog in her life. After becoming enamored with BGs last year, Karin found a responsible breeder, and soon after, she found herself at the Boston airport to pick up her new pup.

“Callie bolted out of her crate and into my arms, and we’ve been inseparable ever since,” says Karin. “Brussels Griffons are known as ‘Velcro dogs‘ and Callie definitely falls into that category. We had to put a bell on her collar when she first arrived, so we wouldn’t trip over her in the house.”

Callie relaxing during a walk in the New England woods.

Unforeseen Obstacles Uncover Opportunity

Unfortunately, Karin began experiencing health issues shortly after acquiring Callie. While working with Callie’s dog trainers and her own medical team, Karin began to realize that Callie would make a great medical alert dog candidate. One member of Karin’s medical team is blind and assisted by a guide dog, and their journey provided even further inspiration to pursue a service dog role. The doggedly-determined Karin and Callie soon began training in earnest towards reaching their new goal.

In May of this year, Callie passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen test, a milestone which Karin proudly credits as a large part of Callie’s development into a stellar service dog. While the exuberant, social Brussels Griffon initially struggled with some aspects of the test, hard work and dedication helped Karin get Callie over the hump.

“CGC was a big benchmark in Callie’s service dog training,” says Karin. “Passing the test gave us a sense of achievement, and helped assure me that we will be make a successful service dog team.”

Callie proudly posing with her Canine Good Citizen ribbon in May.

6-Pound Pup, At Your Service

Following their CGC success, Karin and Callie continued their dedicated service dog training. Soon, though, Karin realized that Callie’s small size would provide a challenge, as most service dogs, like Labrador Retrievers, are much larger, and therefore less likely to be approached by strangers. As a result, Karin came up with some unique commands to deal with Callie’s fawning fans when she is out in public.

“Callie will sit when meeting new people, and look to me for the command ‘you may visit’,” explains Karin. “Then, she is released to be petted until she hears the command ‘back to work.'”

Callie’s tiny stature unfortunately affects her in some negative ways, as well, as people often have a hard time believing such a small pup is a true service dog. Nonetheless, Karin remains undeterred by detractors, and instead continues to focus on training Callie into the best service dog she can possibly be.

Currently, the two are working towards their Advanced CGC and Urban CGC titles, following a successful summer of Callie working as a service dog onsite at Karin’s summer camp.

“Having a title is nice, but it’s really all the work and training that goes into passing the test that is important,” stresses Karin. “For the dog’s safety, the safety of others, and the strengthening of the bond between dog and human.”

Earning Your CGC

If Karin and Callie have inspired you to try to take the Canine Good Citizen test, you can get started right away by finding a CGC class and evaluator. The Canine Good Citizen program is open to all dogs. If you have a special CGC story to share, be sure to tag any photos posted with #ThisisAKC #CGC on Instagram.

The AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program has been the gold standard of dog behavior since 1989. Thirty years later, more than 1 million dogs have passed their CGC test. In honor of over a million Canine Good Citizens, we’ve launched a monthly “CGC & Me” series, highlighting the amazing stories of AKC CGC dogs and their owners.
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10 Essential Skills: Canine Good Citizen Test Items

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