Citizen Blue

Several years ago, I decided to bring Girly Girl to be tested for her Canine Good Citizen certification. This is a program administered by the American Kennel Club. There are ten skills that your furry baby must demonstrate mastery of. If successful, the dog receives the title of Canine Good Citizen with which they can…well….I guess not much really. But proud canine parents can brag all over the internet about it.

Blue greyhound at Woofstock
Girly Girl had no formal obedience training. She never attended a class. I had always intended to find us a rally obedience class but didn’t get to it in time. Still, from the outset, Girly Girl was amazingly well behaved. She sat naturally and I was able to teach her down and other basics at home.

I felt pretty confident that Girly Girl could earn her Canine Good Citizen certificate even without the formal education. So we found ourselves in a roped off field with our CGC test evaluator. Girly Girl performed all the tasks flawlessly, with the exception of sitting. Though she could and would sit on cue, she decided that on this day, she wasn’t in the mood. I did some fancy talking and managed to convince the evaluator that greyhounds rarely sit. This is actually true for most greyhounds.

Of course, after we completed the test and were waiting for our passing paperwork, Girly Girl stepped in front of the evaluator, waited to catch her eye and sat. “Oh yes, I can sit. BUT, only when it suits me.” That was my girl!

When we got home that day, we held a small celebration. At the time, I clearly remember saying to Blue that there was no way he was ever going to earn his Canine Good Citizen certificate, but it was ok, because I loved him regardless. Blue was younger then and quite high energy. He was also “high spirited.” Anyone meeting him for the first time today would never believe it, but within the first month of his arrival he had seriously injured my shoulder by nearly yanking my arm out of its socket.
Blue greyhound kennel web photo
Blue's Adoption Photo

When I first met Blue at the adoption kennel, HE took me for a walk. Dragged me up and down their long driveway several times. I had asked for a laid back hound figuring that would be the temperament that would fit well with Girly Girl and I. This, however, could not describe the Blue of that time. He was energetic, scattered and apparently deaf to anyone screaming “BLUE! NO! NO! NO!!!.” But oh those beautiful amber eyes accentuated so fabulously by those gray eye patches. I tried to convince myself that Blue’s behavior was just because of the kennel setting and I signed the check.

It wasn’t the kennel setting. For at least the first year Blue remained spastic, over active, willful and quite unwilling to consider learning anything that smacked of obedience. My shoulder was just one of a number of injuries Blue inflicted on me during that time. So on the day of our little celebration for Girly Girl’s success, I just knew that there would never be a day when Blue was calm enough in a crowd or around other dogs or when he would learn even the basics like sit, down or stay.

Before anyone calls the ASPCA, I wasn’t trying to scar my baby boy for life when I said to Blue that he’d never earn his CGC. I was simply stating the painfully obvious truth. As in so many things, I was dead wrong. After about 18 months, Blue did calm down. He settled into our routine. He learned to walk politely on leash. Once he figured out he could scam food from every pet store employee he met, he even decided that “down” was worth adding to his repertoire. He drew the line firmly at sit though. Try as I might, I have never been able to get him to perform this maneuver.

Blue greyhound canine good citizen certificate
It was with some sense of irony that this past September Blue and I found ourselves standing in the exact same roped off field, facing the same evaluator for our Canine Good Citizen test. The Blue of 2011 was miles away from the Blue of 2007 and I thought that there just might be a chance he could pass. At worst, we would give it the old college try.

Wouldn’t you know it, my wild man turned old man performed all his tasks flawlessly. Possibly even better than Girly Girl had done it. With the exception of sitting. I had to do some more fancy talking to convince our evaluator once again that greyhounds just don’t sit. I had to dance around that one a little longer this time since the dog that tested just before us was also a greyhound and that big show off sat. Our evaluator was kind hearted and she was impressed with Blue’s willingness to down on command and stay put until I released him. So she let the sitting thing slide.

We stood waiting for our passing paperwork. Blue waited to catch the evaluator’s attention, he stepped in front of her and…naaah, that would have been too great a story, he didn’t sit. Instead he leaned against her as only greyhounds can, to make sure she was clear on the fact that we don’t need no stinking sit. I must say, the evaluator was quite charmed. That’s my boy!!

Back at home we had a small celebration for Bowdoin’s newest Canine Good Citizen. It’s only taken me two greyhounds to learn my lesson. I turned to Bettina and told her that it would likely be many, many years before she ever earned her CGC certification.


  1. but... greyhounds can and do sit! They just take longer to learn and be comfortable with it than other dogs. I'd say 90% of the GAP dogs I've met can sit, and I'm not sure the other 10% have been trained to do it at all.

  2. Congratulations! That's a wonderful achievement.

  3. Congrats on two CGC greys. And great story.

  4. Oh, funny:) Congratulations, that's an awesome achievement, especially in Blue's case. Beryl almost failed her CGC with the one thing I wasn't worried about, the food test! She's always been very nonchalant about eating but that day she decided she was ravenous, despite having had breakfast as a precautionary measure on my part!


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