Alba (Lyckalotte Elegante Athena) has been contemplating taking her Good Citizen Bronze Competence for a while now and no one ever thought she would manage to do it on her first attempt, or any attempt for that matter! She was a real COVID puppy, born in October 2020, and apart from bringing her home to Norfolk and her two unrelated Bolognese cousins, her only socialization was a trip to the vets for her second set of vaccinations and when permitted, a couple of outings to the local garden centre. The end result was a puppy that spent most of her time with her two Bolognese ‘friends’ at home. Alba wanted to play but Luigi, who was by then a grumpy twelve year old, snapped and growled every time she came near him. Bijou, who was three, was terrified of this little thunderbolt and fled – which Alba thought was part of the game – and chased her even more. For several months we had this chaotic situation, so Human Mommy had to take on the role of mediator and Alba playmate. The result was Alba developed a limpet-like dependence on Human Mommy and if Human Mommy was in the house, Alba had to be right by her side.
Eventually, when Covid was over. we got to take Alba to Ringcraft and she enjoyed that because Mommy was always at the end of the lead. She mastered everything quickly, because she is bright and biddable. One exercise remained – the dreaded one minute stay without moving position and with Human Mommy six paces away! For months all we could master would be five to ten seconds before Alba jumped to her feet and ran to Mommy. She was like a Jack in the Box which had a broken spring on its lid and could not be contained. I gave up, but the trainer, Angie, never did. ‘Every dog can learn this, ‘ she said, ‘you just aren’t being firm enough!’ Angie finally hit on the novel idea of standing on Alba’s lead so she couldn’t get up while I retreated to six paces away. For some reason this worked and Alba finally learned the meaning of ‘STAY!’ and within two weeks was doing it even when Angie removed herself and her foot from the vicinity. Another week and we signed up for the test, expecting the usual sight of Alba bolting across the room to Human Ma. She stayed in the down position like a little rock and passed with flying colours!