The CGC test is a precursor to other American Kennel Club (AKC) activities, such as obedience and agility training.
In this case it's the first step to training Max to be my service dog. He continues to go with me to work each day and is a pro at picking things up. He can retrieve pens, pencils, large gripper clips, keys, balled up paper and other items typically found in my office. Not bad for a dog who doesn't like things in his mouth!
One thing he absolutely hates in his mouth is wood. I've even offered him fresh, warm chicken to take my walking stick and he'll have none of it. Since Sam died, I've had no helper to retrieve my sticks when I drop them so my independence has been curtailed, a problem.
I started small, encouraging him to pick up a dowell and graduated to a wooden spoon. All good, but Max still would have nothing to do with my sticks. One day, when my memories of Sam were particularly acute and I was missing him fiercely, I got angry. I yelled at Max, "Why can't you be more like Sam!"
Now those of you with families of 'good' and 'problem' children will probably forgive me. You can also probably predict Max' reaction. That's right, he Shut Down completely. And Max doesn't even understand English. Imagine how our kids, who do, feel.
Well seeing this happen to my woolly boy made me feel awful. I immediately began to play "Toys Attack" with him. (His soft toys suddenly come alive and start attacking him- his favorite game so far. Of course he always wins and has a good chew on the unfortunate plaything.)
He cheered up immediately and without being asked, took my walking stick in his mouth and held it. Since that is exactly the behavior I'm training for, I praised him like a woman possessed by a happy genie! It didn't matter to me that I hadn't asked for it.
Today, he still doesn't like to hold my sticks but he'll do it for much less incentive.
Here's a picture of Max' well-earned CGC certificate. The gallery contains an updated pic of Max wearing his new blue CGC ID tag. (To get to the Gallery, Click on User Info under my picture to the left and then on Pictures.) Thanks to Sha, CGC examiner, trainer and all around wonderful lady: http://www.shanewman.com/