It’s official: Magneto is a good citizen. This New Yorker strolls the streets calmly, unfazed by the sights and sounds of the busy city. Horn honks, sidewalk trash, subway smells, touchy passersby—Magneto takes it all in stride. Magneto is a good dog. And his owner has the papers to prove it.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognizes dogs that demonstrate good citizenship. The official title for these city-wise pups is Urban Canine Good Citizen. The Urban CGC is one of four titles the AKC gives for doggie citizenship.
Dogs must have a registered AKC number and pass the basic Canine Good Citizen test before being allowed to take the urban version of the exam.
The basic test has been around for about 25 years. More than 700,000 dogs have passed. The urban version requires a bit more self-restraint on the part of the pooch.
AKC officials administer the Urban CGC test in tough city settings. Streets, cars, noises, elevators, outdoor cafes, and other distractions are all part of the real-world exam.
Dogs perform a 10-step test of skills. For example, they must wait patiently for “walk” lights at pedestrian crossings, clamber in and out of cars or taxis, and ignore tempting street food. Two of the most difficult parts of the test involve a dog’s tolerating hugs and strokes from strangers and remaining still while its owner browses in a dog-friendly shop.
Some people think the test of doggie etiquette is barking up the wrong tree. “It’s more that the owners could step up their game,” observed one New Yorker.
Why do owners put their dogs through these urban paces? For one thing, it’s a way to “consider others,” as in Philippians 2:3. But additionally, from a practical point of view, some people believe good dog behavior will pay off. Some homeowners’ insurers have agreed to cover certain breeds with the basic canine good citizen title according to the AKC. Further, some think the Urban CGC title might help get a beloved pet into the best co-ops and condos.
What does the pooch get for its efforts? The AKC awards each dog that successfully passes the citizenship test the suffix “CGC” after its name—that and a doggie treat.
Some canines will do anything to stay out of the doghouse.