Chapter 25
(October 2005):

Becoming a Canine Good Citizen

Well, Grandpa and Grandma, it’s me again: Gráinne Maria Bennedikta na Dun na nGall.

I’m dedicating this part of my life’s adventures – dealing with higher education - to you, knowing how much you have always cared about the members of our family (including canines) getting good schooling. So I try to do you proud. Except when I get carried away by the little devil in me.

 Mummy and I have been getting a lot of really good training at Kluckens’ School for Dogs and Daddy is pleased with us. He pats us on the head when we leave for school and asks for a report on our performance when we come home. He comes to the parents’ activities and my performances and puts poles up in the backyard for me to practice.

 In February we had a race at school, just for fun. Daddy ran away while Mummy held me and when she let me go, I flew to him. I couldn’t beat all the border collies, but I passed up a few.

Mummy says she’s still not ready for agility competition yet as long as she’s still tripping over hurdles and forgetting where to go next, but I’m getting proficient enough to make up for her mistakes. So it was time to fulfil the requirements to qualify for participation in agility trials.

First Mummy had to join the Klub für Terrier, one of the major recognized German kennel clubs. One day “The Terrier” magazine came to our house with her name as a new member in it. Then she could order me the "Leistungskarte”, a yellow booklet in which all my (and her!) successes and failures will be entered, like a college transcript. Now we could sign up for BH Seminar: a preparatory course for the Begleithundeprüfung, i.e. an exam demanded by the kennel clubs for agility competition. Mummy had been preparing for the preparatory course since January and the date, end of May, grew ominously nearer while she learned 150 questions and the various answers by heart for the written part of the test. I had to learn to heel, lie and sit and worst of all: wait. Aaaaaaaaargh! Wait!? Wheaten Terrors do not have time to waste waiting. They have to get on with life.

 The end of May arrived and we began the course. Now the clock was really ticking, as the date for the exam beckoned to us. We went to school twice a week and practiced on my walks every day. I was a model student, heeled and wheeled, sat and lay, even learned to ignore other dogs and people, and to WAIT. Coach Horst said I was the only student who was really relaxed and calm while Mummy stood at 30 yards with her back to me.

I let them build up to 5 minutes on the 5th week, nonchalantly sniffing the air, counting the blades of grass between my front paws, showing the other kids how to do it. Until I heard Horst say, “You can tell Gráinne’s older than the others.”  WHAAAAAT? Older! I’ll show him! From then on I lay just long enough to prove that I knew what I was supposed to do and then put on my own program. Mummy was so desperate that I once did a 7-minute wait on our walk to make her feel better when nobody was around to see. Once. Only once.

Mummy was in a real panic by July 3rd, the day of the exam. We got up early so that we could take a long walk, which Mummy thought would make me calm and make it easier for me to “lie and wait” for 10 minutes in the exam. It was raining cats and terriers and I was not going to put my Princess’ butt down on the wet grass for anything. No way! Not in a single exercise. Mummy debated whether we should just be a no-show, but then decided that it was better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.

She passed the written test, qualifying to take part in the practical section. We paced up and down in the road until it was our turn and I sat a few times to let her know that I really could do it if I wanted to. Then we were called onto the field. Mummy had just laid me down for the 10-minute lie and wait, when the clouds opened up and it began to rain lions and coyotes. Poor Mummy looked like a bedraggled and forlorn poodle, standing all alone 30 yards from me with her back turned and willing me to stay. I decided to cheer her up with a little dance routine. Mummy was not amused. I realized that she was not in the mood to play Catch-me-if-you-can and returned when called, for a change of pace.  Repeat: Lie, Wait, Dance routine. Finally the ten minutes were over and we approached the judge for the next section: heeling and wheeling, slow and fast, drop on command, zig-zag through a group of people, etc. etc., first on leash and then off. By this time it was raining whole zoos and circuses. Mum cheated and used a hand signal for lie when I had to drop on command while she walked on without breaking her pace. Of course the judge saw that and who could have missed my cool dance routine? But we had enough points to pass anyway, as I could have told her before. I know my numbers and I knew just how many points we could lose and still pass. It creates far more suspense than being perfect.

Mummy promised that I would never again have to lie and wait at 30 yards for 10 minutes. Never ever again. So I agreed to cooperate on the third part of the exam: in town.

That was pretty easy, all on-leash, where the devil can’t tempt me to design my own choreography. In the very last exercise, Mummy had to tie me up in front of a store and walk out of sight, while another dog paraded next to me. How could they even think of me lunging at another dog when Mummy had left me? “She will come back. Won’t she? Where’s my Mummy? Mummy???? Ahhhhhhhhhh, there she is! I have to give her a big hug and a kiss." - “All right, Gráinne,” she whispered. “Now I’m allowed to talk with you and to touch you. Now I can hug you and you can have a good treat when we get back to the car. You passed the exam.” I got another ribbon to hang on the door of my crate and two white strips in my yellow booklet, stating that Mummy passed and I passed. Now we can take part in agility trials. I’m working on a new showy dance for my first match.

I’ll make you proud, Grandpa and Grandma.

Love and wet kisses,


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