Ever feel like you’re running in circles? Last weekend, Sam and I watched people doing just that. Running in circles. With dogs. Some were professionals, earning a paycheck running in circles at events like this, an American Kennel Club show hosted by the Hurricane Ridge Kennel Club in Sequim, Washington, July 29 – 31.
The word for the day was ‘civilized’. Everyone was very well behaved, people and dogs alike. And it was quite appropriate because Sam was there for his Therapy Dog certification, which entails being extremely well behaved under all conditions. The test was held on Saturday, adjacent to the Obedience trials. These trials were impressive to watch, and I learned that creating such discipline in these dogs took infinite time and patience (and rewards).
This retriever not only fetches and jumps, but can pick out the correct object from a group of similar ones. Proper behavior is always immediately reinforced with tasty treats.
Therapy Dog tests begin
Fifteen dogs entered. At first we were apprehensive. We knew what the drill would be and worried about certain tests. Such as having Sam’s tail lifted by a stranger. The last time this happened, at the vet, he growled. We wondered how he would react.
The first dog up for certification, a young Doberman, complained when the instructor touched her tail. You’re outta here! Ejected and dejected. “Why did you have to bark?” we heard her human mutter as he led her away.
Every dog tucked their tail in tight, but Sam remained passive, as the instructor moved his hands over every inch of his body.
Probably the favorite for Sam was the group grope which had a number of people petting and talking to Sam at the same time. Feeling the love! Not all dogs were comfortable with this, a few displaying uncertainty and shyness. As a therapy dog you can expect to be approached and handled by strangers and must remain calm.
Entrants came in all sizes
From tiny Chihuahua, Bebe…
…to Sheepdog Rose.
Seemingly simple behaviors, such as staying and laying down promptly, proved a challenge for some dogs. One dog was ejected immediately for peeing on a nearby garbage bin in the middle of one test. As the afternoon progressed we worried with each step. There were thirteen tests in all, and each successful completion brought concern voiced by many, wondering that having come this far would we lose it at the end?
Nine dogs pass
We need not have worried as Sam passed with no problems. All that remains now is paperwork and fees, and then Sam will receive his official credential, plus he will be a certified Canine Good Citizen, a title conferred by the AKC. This allows Sam to have the letters, CGC, after his name. Much like a PhD.
We were impressed by the quality of this AKC event and decided to return the next day to watch the rest of the show, which would include Best in Group and Best in Show awards.
Next up, Running With Dogs, Part 2…