By Liz, who never wants to see another snowflake again in her lifetime.
In case you missed it on Facebook, Shaggy passed her Canine Good Citizen test last week. This was a huge milestone for her. She’d been to two obedience classes prior, both of which she completed like a pro, but an “official” test? Nobody likes tests, right? They’re so nerve-wracking.
Anyway, she passed with flying colors, even the one I was most worried about – supervised separation, where she had to stay alone with the trainer for 3 minutes and not fuss. Tough stuff for a spoiled little dog who’s joined to my hip!
But she did it. And during this process, as I helped her practice for each test, I got to thinking about these tests and how they can apply to humans too. Here are some examples of how the CGC tests have manifested in my life, and how I would fare.
TEST 1: ACCEPTING A FRIENDLY STRANGER
Okay, I have to admit I have an issue with this one. Strangers are not always friendly; therefore they can’t be accepted just because they smile at you. Not to mention, my writer’s brain always thinks the worst about people. I think this is a bad lesson for everyone, including dogs. The last stranger I made eye contact with on the streets of Hartford was an undercover cop with a gun, chasing a bank robber during lunch hour. Come to think of it, he wasn’t that friendly.
TEST 2: SITTING POLITELY FOR PETTING
In human speak, this could read “Sitting politely for politicking.” The equivalent of sitting politely during meetings while posturing, politics and other fun stuff occurs around you. I’m good at “nod and smile.” Most days.
TEST 3: APPEARANCE AND GROOMING
Looking professional when you’re frozen and the air is so dry you feel shriveled, having to climb mountains of snow and navigate a driveway that’s uphill and covered with ice is tough. However, I’ve managed to hold it together enough to not look like I’ve climbed through the Arctic tundra once I’ve gotten to the office and done some repairs.
TEST 4: OUT FOR A WALK (WALKING ON A LOOSE LEAD)
Let’s be clear—I hate winter. I just want to curl up in my blanket and stay inside until this hideous white stuff melts. However, there’s one exception—a daily trip to Starbucks. Certain coworkers and I will brave the most horrendous elements for our daily cup. We’re better than the post office in this regard. I’m thinking specifically of the rainstorm with 40 mile an hour winds that destroyed our umbrellas. Yes, we had a meeting after that. In person. But at least we had coffee.
TEST 5: WALKING THROUGH A CROWD
It’s not me, it’s them. If you’re too busy yelling at someone on your cell phone or not watching where you’re going with your baby stroller, it’s not my fault if my big purse nearly takes you out.
TEST 6: SIT AND DOWN ON COMMAND AND STAYING IN PLACE
I command myself every day to sit and stay in front of the computer during my writing time. Doesn’t usually work unless the situation is extremely desperate. (See Test 9)
TEST 7: COMING WHEN CALLED
Depends on who’s calling. In the world of CGC, that matters. So I win.
TEST 8: REACTION TO ANOTHER DOG
Depends on the dog. Depends on whether said dog is trying to be alpha, lifting his leg on my cubicle, growling and showing fangs. And then there’s the female dog—and you know what they call those. In both of these cases, I tend to exhibit the same behaviors.
TEST 9: REACTION TO DISTRACTION
I’m on two manuscript deadlines, April 1 and May 1. One manuscript still needs a complete rewrite to incorporate a new theme (more on that later). Still, every time I hunker down to do a big chunk of work, it’s amazing what I let distract me. The ding of a text message, an email teaser, the sound of a puking cat all lead me away from my ultimate goal—to finish the bleeping books on time. (See Test 6)
TEST 10: SUPERVISED SEPARATION
See Test 1. Seeing as extreme supervision is not my strong suit, I don’t think this is a good test for me. And then there’s the whole stranger thing.
As you can see, Shaggy is much more equipped to deal with the world than I am. I guess it’s good I’m a writer and can often hide in my cave.
However, I should point out that after class was completed, the blue ribbon was displayed proudly and prizes were given, a dog is still a dog, and will sneak into litter boxes for a snack. In the world of CGC, that’s an extreme fail.
Readers, how would you fare on these tests?