Sir Kirby Kingston Martin of Mississippi, CGC

This is Kirby's registered official AKC (American Kennel Club) name. The CGC is his very first earned AKC title which stands for Canine Good Citizen.  Most dogs earn this title at a young age, usually by age one, so at three years old Kirby is a little late but we have just now had the opportunity to take the test because (1) we live in a rather rural area, and (2) the AKC Club here just recently opened their doors to mixed breeds.

When we arrived at the dog show where the test was being given, the first thing I noticed was that Kirby was the ONLY dog wearing a sweater.  We were the obvious newbies so even though it was very cold in the building off it went to hide in his bag.  You may notice I kept my coat on.

Mama is telling me what we have to do

Mama is telling me what we have to do

We had to do things like meet other people with dogs or I got petted or brushed.  All I had to do was be a nice doggie.

We had to do things like meet other people with dogs or I got petted or brushed.  All I had to do was be a nice doggie.

Mama telling me I passed.  I knew I would!

Mama telling me I passed.  I knew I would!

The CGC TEST consists of 10 skills needed by all well-mannered dogs with all of the exercises done on a leash.

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger - The dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. Very easy since Kirby is used to going to public places.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting - The dog will allow a friendly stranger to pet it while it is out with its handler.  Very easy since Kirby is used to people, especially children, wanting to pet him.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming - The dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so.  Seriously, the Kirbster loves a massage! 

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead) -  The handler/dog team will take a short “walk” to show that the dog is in control while walking on a leash.  Very easy since Kirby is used to walking on a leash.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd - The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three) to demonstrate that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. Very easy since Kirby is used to going to public places.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place - The dog will respond to the handler’s commands to 1) sit,  2) down and will 3) remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). This one became complicated.  I put Kirby in down position where he waited then I walked to the farthest corner as instructed.  The evaluator called me back and said she wanted me to walk straight ahead to the fencing.  I again placed Kirby in down and did as she asked.  Again she called me back and said she wanted to use a measuring string which she had to untangle and stretch across the floor.  So once again I placed Kirby in the down position and walked to the mark on the string.  Kirby is used to this exercise but all the changes were confusing causing him to stand up this last time before I called him.  I had to give him the command for down from where I was standing which he promptly did.   

Test 7: Coming when called - The dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. With the complications I mentioned in Step 6 this part was incredibly easy and funny because when I said COME Kirby ran like the wind to get to me.  He has to stop and sit directly in front of my feet - he was running so fast he literally slid into the stop touching my legs!

Test 8: Reaction to another dog - To demonstrate that the dog can behave politely around other dogs, two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. Very easy since Kirby is used to meeting people with their dogs in public places.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction - To demonstrate the dog is confident when faced with common distracting situations, the evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. Very easy since Kirby is used to loud noises such as fireworks and motorcycles.  The only problem would have been if someone was riding a bicycle which to Kirby just seems so wrong!

Test 10: Supervised separation - This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes.  I did panic on this one because as I went around the corner I could hear him barking.  The person holding him knows us and later told me he barked once when I disappeared but then saw Doug standing nearby and barked more until Doug quickly disappeared. Once he couldn't see either of us he did stop barking.  It was obvious to the evaluator that he was on alert looking in the direction we went but sat quietly for the next three minutes.

We paid $20.00 to take the test.  Once he passed we were given a form to mail in along with $8.00 to receive his certificate by mail.  So for $28.00 and some simple exercises the Kirbster has his very first AKC title.

I have to mention how much this title means to me.  We know Kirby is a well trained dog with a calm demeanor.  We know he is an excellent teacher and mentor for our foster dogs.  I began training Kirby to behave and do tricks from the time I brought him home at six weeks old (he could sit on command at 7 weeks).  I wanted to do the AKC Star Puppy and the AKC Canine Good Citizen when he was a puppy but was not allowed since he isn't a purebreed.  To finally be allowed to let this amazing little guy prove how smart and good he is just means so much to me.  Kirby may never become a champion on paper but he is the champion of my heart!  He is my heart dog!