Recently I took part in the Salisbury, Maryland Kennel Club's Super Match, thoroughly enjoyed the day and yet never walked into the breed ring. I entered my spayed couch potato Delise in the Canine Good Citizen/Therapy Dog International Test just for the experience to see what it was all about.
After watching several Labradors and Goldens go through the test, I realized Delise and I didn't have a prayer. Entering the ring, Delise and I were directed to one end where the judge introduced himself as Tom K'burg and proceeded to explain the test to me while he petted and brushed Delise.
Next, he wanted her to sit. I asked her several times and finally she sat if only for a short period of time. The same routine was repeated with the down command and with some gentle prodding, that too was accomplished. then I was to sit her down and walk about 20 feet away and back. Well, I turned and threatened her that she better not move, or no doggie bone. She did break, but not toward me. she positioned herself next to the judge! there were several distractions like joggers through the ring, buckets being thrown about and even another dog brought into the ring so I could shake hands with its handler. There were several manned pieces of equipment brought into the ring (wheelchair, walker and crutches) to get Delise's reaction. I then presented her to each of the occupants, all of whom she licked (big brownie points!).
The last exercise was to remain on a sit stay for five minutes while I left the room. As long as Delise didn't strain on her leash to go the direction that I exited, it would be okay. that was the longest five minutes I can recall in recent times. I returned to the ring to find out that she passed, much to my amazement. All this from a five year old Norfolk who had never heard the word "sit" before!
The main criteria for Therapy Dog International is a friendly, clean, under control and manageable type of dog that doesn't spook easily or get upset if its owner is out of sight. I'm sure there are many more Norfolks out there that could be as successful as Delise.
ANTIC, Spring 1993
Editor's Note: Pet therapy organizations and the nursing homes, hospitals and similar facilities that utilize pet therapy may, or may not, require a Canine Good Citizen or Therapy Dog certificate for an animal's participation. In any case, the programs are useful for assessing an animal's suitability for therapy visits.
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