Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Continuing Soggy Saga of Spring

Spring has finally decided to stick around this latitude for a while, albeit grudgingly. The sun seems reluctant to show its face for very long at a stretch, for fear of frightening us natives who haven't seen it since forever. "Ooh! What is that big yellow ball in sky? Run! Run before we get used to being warm and cheerful!"

I can tell it's spring because our backyard, which used to look like some of the Siberian scenes in Doctor Zhivago, now looks more like the Okefenokee Swamp without the gators. We have an actual pond here on the property, but the visiting ducks always seem to prefer swimming around in the temporary lakes of snow-melt we have out there. Here are a couple of the current visitors...

Dinah thinks I'm putting her on when I tell her, "Look! Duckies!". She knows from ducks, after all. She loves herding the Indian Runners around at Suzanne White's place on the occasions we've had to go up there. To her, real ducks don't swim or fly. They walk everywhere, preferably with her able assistance. When the wild ducks outside announce their presence with a chorus of quacks, she stiffens to attention and is ready to get to work. Those tourist-creatures out in the yard are of no interest to her, though. They only sound like real ducks.

The pups have been celebrating the advent of Mud Season, all right...

I've been remiss at cleaning up in the dog yard because most of it is under water; the dogs have to get their yeah-yeahs out in the remaining dry space, or out with me someplace else. All of the toys and bones that Dinah and Seamus hid in the snowbanks are now languishing out in the water. I'll need to put on some boots, collect the things to dry, and hope I don't lose my footwear to the mud while I'm doing it.

Yes You Can

Thanks to Sue and Judy, I received my AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator's credentials a few weeks back. You may now call me Evaluator #35219.

I decided to go for it because I've met so many people (particularly in our breed club, but elsewhere, too) with sweet, lovely dogs. The owners shake their heads sadly and say, "But we don't show or trial. My dog could never do that." The CGC is really within reach of any dog/owner team with even a passing mastery of some very basic obedience skills of the type every dog and owner should know. My campaign slogan for the CGC would probably be "Yes You Can."

After the ink dried on my newly-minted credentials, Sue asked me to come and evaluate one of her CGC classes for Reigning Cats and Dogs. She reassured me that they were all wonderful teams, and would make it very easy for a noob like me to get started.

Of course, Sue was absolutely right. I evaluated seven student teams from her class (plus our friend Rayleen from POC and her Skye Terrier puppy). All of the dogs were puppies or teenagers except for the lovely Great Dane, who at 3 was the senior member of the assemblage. I felt terrible for the Husky's owner when the little guy decided he'd rather wrestle than pay attention, but hey... he's only a puppy. Sue and I encouraged her to try him again at POC's June match. He'll be a couple of months older by then, and every month brings big changes to a puppy.

It was genuinely touching to see the expressions of relief, disbelief, and delight on the faces of those folks who passed. Yes They Can!

I worked fairly hard to keep them from discovering that I was every bit as nervous as they were, but it did involve taking some extra time to let people breathe and puppies settle. I ran seriously overtime, but Sue came up with a great idea: Let the waiting students from her next class come in to watch the test. They'd get to see what the CGC was all about, and maybe they'd want to sign up for Sue's next CGC class.

The distraction level grew about 400% by then, but that was a very good thing -- much truer to real life. We had several well-behaved dogs, two little children, a couple of rattly paper bags, plus Sue and the other two volunteers whom I shanghaied into helping: Greg, sporting a cane I got from Freecycle and a book he dropped at intervals and my friend Jay (one of Sue's former students), who jogged around the room during the distraction exercise.

Sue followed up later with a very sweet note thanking me for testing, and saying that she and Rayleen had received numerous compliments about the test and how I handled each team. That makes me happy. All I really wanted was to let them know that they could do everything on the test, and they did. Sue prepared them well. All I did was reaffirm that with sheets of carbonless paper.

Now that the tests are over and the paperwork is done, I'm already receiving requests to do the tests at other venues. I'm testing on two successive weekends in June already. When they asked me if I could come and test, I said... wait for it.. Yes I Can.

(Apologies to Senator Obama, but it was just too good to pass up.)

1 comment:

sue said...

to anyone who reads this post.. Karen is being her modest self!!!! She did an outstanding job with the cgc test, but most importantly.. made these new dog/handler teams feel great about their work and their puppies. Which in the world of dogs, we need to all encourage!!! you would have known if she was nervous..must be that show dog face we have all learned to put on... and you can be sure you will read about more cgc tests that she does, because I will be calling her again!!!! and the part about "running over in time".. only goes to show the great care and attention that she gave to each one.. and it was an excellent chance for other new dog trainer to watch....