Saturday, 7 March 2015

Being the Best Citizen at Crufts

My dogs and I have in theory been following the Good Citizen Dog Scheme syllabus in training classes for quite a while now, but courtesy of an extended period where I couldn’t walk without crutches, Daisy got to take a break after her Puppy class, and as a result was about ready to take her Bronze just before Crufts. Our trainer at Ashlawn suggested we might like to take the test actually at Crufts itself, as part of the demonstration of skills that goes on in the education area.
So we sent in our application, and were rather delighted to be accepted to take our test on the Thursday. The day itself didn’t get off to a flying start when: 1. we were half an hour late (despite only living down the road from the NEC) due to an accident and missing the pre-demo/test briefing and 2. while waiting in line to go in for the first demo, Daisy expressing her disapproval at the very close proximity of an absolutely enormous GSD inviting her to play and growling a bit. Cue lots of muttered discussion from the coordinators about if there was any hint of temperamental unsoundness I couldn’t be allowed to do the demo and would have to take the dog home, and my trying to suggest that she was probably just a bit intimidated by the enormous puppy that had just socked her with a dinner-plate sized foot and that she would be fine once moving.
Part of me was ready to just pack up there and then, but I plastered a smile on, and the demo proceeded without a hitch. Daisy worked beautifully, as did all the other dogs in the ring.

Then we went for a wander round the show. In retrospect, this was probably very unfair to Daisy, as she’s only a knee-height dog, but she handled the crowds and the noise and the chaos really, really well. In fact she was super interested in everything going on, especially the food stalls that had samples laid out at dog height, ready to be tried. I ended up buying her small bags of a number of things based off which treats and foods she pulled hardest to be allowed to have!

Canidae went down well
Then back to the bench (the allocated resting area for each dog) for a quick snooze (both of us), drink (both of us) and a brush over (Daisy; my hair was beyond redemption) before the next demo. By the second time in the ring, Daisy had identified that people were looking at her, and she trotted in, tail waving and really turned on the charm for the audience, little horror that she is.  She was starting to flag though, so we had a bit of a quiet time back at the bench, and a gentle stroll around the education area…where I bumped into two handlers that I had been on Young Kennel Club camps with as a 13/14 year old. Amazing how so much time has passed, and yet shared interests give you something to just pick up on, like you only saw each other last week.
Finally: the test itself. There was a larger crowd watching this than there had been earlier in the day, and a compere who was giving running commentary on each dog which ratcheted up the stress a bit. Also a very thorough, though very nice, judge. I was pretty confident, based on the two demos, that everyone in the ring (7 of us) were going to pass but you can never be completely certain! Daisy’s test started well with her heelwork and going through the gate – didn’t put a paw wrong, and really showed off in the heelwork round the outside of the ring; she trotted along like a little Arab horse, on a nice loose lead with tail waving like she was having the best time ever (though with all those people watching she probably was). Ditto all the staying away from distractions and walking in and out of other dogs (which had been a huge challenge for her in training as she wants to go and say hello to EVERYONE). For the examination of dog and grooming I had her lie down rather than stand, as she was obviously getting tired, and by the time the judge got to us to assess whether the dog was ok being brushed and looked at in her eyes, ears, mouth, feet etc, Daisy was lying with her eyes closed, practically asleep and not really responding to having her paws prodded or her tummy brushed, except to wag her tail a bit when she heard her name. Bless.
Given her tiredness, the down stay also wasn’t a challenge, and so we successful passed our Bronze Good Citizen test at Crufts. We got the standard passing rosette, and also a rather lovely Crufts 2015 souvenir one, which was a bit special.

So I’m terribly proud of my little Daisy, and we’re going onwards and upwards to the Silver test…

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