Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Forest and the Trees

Those of you who follow Rubi and I via other means know that B and I passed her CGC yesterday. A few months ago, I came to the realization that I don't actually enjoy showing my dogs. I enjoy training them, and I wish that were enough. But as a people trainer, I have trouble convincing myself that anyone should take me seriously if I don't have titles on my dogs. After all, I wouldn't study under a trainer if he or she hadn't titled dogs in the sports they were teaching. The actual process of showing a dog, though, I don't particularly care for. There's all the expense of the show, plus the logistics of getting the dog to show, setting up, getting ready, managing my own ring nerves - it's just not high on my list of fun activities. I'll continue to show, because I like having titles on my dogs, but actually getting those titles is a big PITA to me.

So maybe it's just residual ring nerves, but I can't help but feel that this CGC is a little bit of an empty accomplishment. Sure, we passed. In a familiar place. With people we kinda knew. With dogs we kinda knew. B can walk passed another dog - just like 80% of the other dogs out there. But God forbid the other dog should show interest in her. B still has a pretty big bubble, at least according to my standards. She still lunges at dogs that come within about five feet of us, although she does usually come back when I ask her to. It's kind of an "oops, sorry, mom, I forgot" moment. Rubi continues to be pretty sensitive to the sound of other dogs. For example, if a dog starts barking somewhere, and Rubi can't see it, she'll often start reacting at whatever dog is closest to us, even if she was sitting next to that dog perfectly comfortably a moment before. Clearly, we've still got some heavy desensitization to work through there. Recently, Rubi also seems to be having trouble with "floating head syndrome." Now that the ginormous snow drifts outside the house have started to melt, we can see people walking by - or, at least, the heads of people walking by. Seeing floating heads walk by is apparently unnerving, and B's taken to reacting to them. I could have sworn we had this problem fixed already, but it has translated over to the club as well, and B has been reacting to dogs who's heads she can see floating over the tops of the solid ring barriers. Lovely.

But on the other hand, WE FREAKIN' PASSED THE CGC!

Of the many things I am grateful for, I'm very glad I started the blog. It allows me too look back and see that yes, being able to walk past another dog is, in fact, Kind Of A Big Deal. Not only did she do well, she nailed this part of the test; I couldn't have asked for a better run. We passed the CGC, and we passed it a full three months before I'd expected to, and only six months after I'd actively begun to work on Rubi's reactivity. That's pretty awesome, and I'm glad I have something to remind me how great it is. Sure, we've still got a few kinks in the programming, but we've come a long way. 

Rubi has lived with us for about nine months now, and she's changed subtly but impressively in that time. She no longer seems to regard me as another bit of furniture: fun to jump on and occasionally comfortable, but much less interesting than most everything else. She trusts me now, looks to me for guidance in strange situations, and accepts that I might know what's best when I tell her not to do something. It's not perfect, but it's a long way from where we started. Rubi has also found her place in our family. She understands each of the other dogs, how they play, who's good to snuggle with, and that "enough" is not a challenge or a threat to her safety. She knows that the cats aren't anything to be afraid of (yes, she was afraid of the cats when she first came - "Vicious pit bulls" indeed). Our lives have slipped into a comfortable, reassuring routine. 

So what is the CGC title worth? A few letters that say so little about the progress we have made and how far we've come. We have improved each other's lives, and that is the real accomplishment. 


  1. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

    I have a great blog I'd love for you to check out, It's a wonderful place for pet bloggers to find each other.

    Nubbin wiggles,

  2. That is such HUGE news! Congratulations on your accomplishment.
    I tend to agree with Rubi, I don't like floating heads. I was hoping there would be less of them soon but then yesterday's storm hit :(

  3. It IS a big deal!! 2/3 of my dogs would not be able to do that! Congrats!