Yesterday was a good day. For those of you who have seen me recently, you know that I just closed on my first house this week. Instead of supervising movers yesterday, though, I went with my clients and friends, Jean and CJ, to support them as they took their CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and TDI (Therapy Dog International) tests.
When I first met Jean and her husband (and as I worked with them) I was told, "We really do believe that CJ was meant to be a therapy dog. He was meant to help people." So, we had our goals, and we were off! Jean was wonderful with CJ. I enjoyed watching her become more confident with her CJ, and I especially enjoyed watching CJ start to respond to her. They were really developing a special bond.
Admittedly, CJ and Jean had tried for the CGC once before. CJ was fantastic and did great on 9 out of 10 steps, but on the 10th (reaction towards other dogs) he just became too excited. He's definitely a dog who loves to play! It was hard to watch Jean's reaction to the news. Of course, she loves her dog, but she was obviously disappointed. She was disappointed in herself, in her dog, and whether she's willing to admit it, I'm sure she was a little disappointed in me. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in me too!
Luckily, though, she's not a quitter. We reevaluated what was going on and got right back to work. Obviously he'd be a great therapy dog. He loves being loved and he loves other dogs (even the dogs who don't love him). He just needed to learn how to control his excitement. We took CJ to the dog park, and we brought dogs to him. We worked on techniques to keep his attention focused on Jean, and we worked with Jean to ensure she knew how to handle any situation that came her way. By yesterday, I was confident he'd pass with flying colors.
I was confident, but that doesn't mean I wasn't nervous. I didn't know if I could handle that sort of disappointment again. After 45 minutes of testing, however, Jean and CJ were given the news they'd done wonderfully and had passed. YAY!!! I took pictures as Jean did a happy dance and CJ, realizing that work was over, tried to find a dog to play with him. I was happy for them.
It wasn't until we got back to their house, however, that I realized how wonderful the situation was. I watched Jean interact with CJ. Of course she was thrilled, and CJ just soaked up all the love and affection she could give him. I watched Jean give CJ kisses, walk away, and then walk back just to give him more kisses (multiple times). I watched as she hugged CJ and told him what a wonderful, fantastic boy he was. I watched CJ as he wagged his tail and gave kisses back. I watched until I couldn't watch any more and had to join in the fun.
The entire time I was watching, though, I was thinking, "This is why I'm a trainer. I love seeing this!" I became a trainer to help people build and develop that special bond with their dogs. I want to see them reach their full potential and not just get along with their dogs, but really enjoy them too.
Congratulations Jean and CJ! You deserve it.