The Story of Truth and Mugs: Two Special CGC Dogs

Guest author: Kelley Fecteau (Rainbow Service Dogs)

When I think of CGC dogs, the story of brother and sister littermates who have overcome tremendous odds always come to mind.

Mugs and Truth had come to Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in the autumn of 2013. They had been found along with their mother and three siblings in a local dumping ground. Both Truth and Mugs had suffered multiple gunshot wounds and they were severely dehydrated.



It was no surprise that with this horrendous start in life, both dogs were extremely shy when they first arrived at PACC. By November, Truth was behaviorally stable enough to be adopted. On a home visit, we found that Truth was terrified of going up stairs. Going down was no problem. Mind you, Truth was a 65-pound dog; she was certainly not easy to carry. But when it comes to dog training, persistence pays off and after a week of training, finally, one day she got it and up the stairs she went.

By December, Mugs was also doing well in training. We heard of a couple who was specifically looking for a larger dog. Again we went back to Pima Animal Control Center and tested several dogs. The couple brought their grandchildren to ensure the dog chosen as a new family member did well with them as well.



Mugs was chosen and he went to his new home. About a week later, while looking at the copies of their paperwork, I realized the background on both dogs matched and had the same date. I confirmed they were in fact the siblings I met several months before. Mugs began to attend classes immediately, and when he and Truth first met after their long separation, the expression between the two was amazing. They wagged their tails, and jumped towards each other with clear signs of recognition.

Around the beginning of January, Truth began refusing to get into the vehicle or leave the house on various occasions. Each time within a half hour to an hour, her owner would experience a seizure or a cardiac episode. It seems that Truth had some natural ability as a seizure detection dog. Truth remained in classes and she has passed the Canine Good Citizen, AKC Community Canine (advanced CGC) and Urban CGC tests.

Still in training, Mugs has passed the CGC test with flying colors. As a result of consistent training and dedicated owners who love these dogs, both overcame and survived above and beyond all odds. To this day, when the brother and sister see each other, they wag their tails, get a little excited, and then turn and go on their merry way toward whatever their great new lives have to offer.

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Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby

Sometimes, compassionate people are so eager to help a dog in a shelter or rescue situation, they just don’t have on their thinking caps.

The call yesterday was from a first-time mom with a new baby. Two weeks before her due date, mom goes with a friend (who wanted a kitten) to a shelter. It was there that mom saw a very active dog with a behavioral history. She adopted the dog and said he was “trouble from the start.” Nothing was done to prepare the dog for the baby because “everything was so hectic.” Now the dog is nipping at the baby. Here come the limiting conditions….mom had a c-section, is not doing well and needs plenty of rest during the day. She can’t have a 50-lbs. dog pulling her on the leash. Dad is not in the picture. There is no neighbor or relative who could work with the dog. She doesn’t have the money to pay a trainer to work with the dog. The mom was calling to ask for magic.

In a more ideal world, to introduce a new baby to a family dog, here are seven simple steps:

  1. Training

Sleeping newborn baby alongside a dachshund puppy.

Ideally, as soon as parents-to-be know that a baby will be coming into the family, if it hasn’t been done before, the canine family member will be provided with some training. Behaviors such as sit, down, stay, and “back up” are very helpful when it comes to managing a dog around new infants.

  1. Getting to Know You

When the baby arrives in the hospital, before coming home, send home a blanket or shirt from the baby so that the dog can become familiar with the baby’s scent.

  1. Introduce the Dog to Baby Items

The baby will have new swings, rocking seats, and toys. As soon as possible, show the dog the new items so that he has seen the swing move before there is a baby in it, and he knows what it means when you say “Leave it!” when it comes to baby toys.

  1. Get Ready for Crying

If your dog is sound sensitive and you think he may be nervous when the baby cries, you can expose him to crying baby sounds via a CD. Starting with quieter cries, you can gradually crank up the sound until your dog is a pro at listening to a wailing baby.  See for a baby-sounds CD.

  1. Dog Meets Baby

Your pup will probably be curious and anxious to meet the new member of his family. To make sure he doesn’t jump on you when you come home from the hospital, it is a good idea for you to get in the room and be sitting when the dog comes in to meet the baby for the first time.  If you have a very active dog, have a helper bring him into the room on a leash. Praise the dog for being calm and well-behaved.

  1. Maintain the Dog’s Exercise and Play

Whenever there is a new baby, it is common for all of the attention to be on the new infant. Make sure the canine member of your family still gets daily exercise and play sessions. This is extremely important for having a calm, mellow dog. If you just can’t do it all, consider getting a temporary personal assistant for the dog. There might be a neighborhood teenager who would be happy to take a dog for a walk and play with him.

  1. Supervise Dogs and Children

Finally, the AKC Canine Good Citizen Responsible Dog Owners Pledge advises that children and dogs should always be supervised when together. This applies to when the babies are infants and when they are preschoolers.

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Why Does My Dog Pee On Her Bed?

A dog owner posed this question that is a variation on housetraining.

“I recently added a 9 month old mid-sized mixed breed dog to my family. My dog came from the shelter. For the most part, she is housetrained, but here is the problem- I take her outside and she pees. Then, when I bring her in, she will get in her bed and urinate there. What is this about and how do I handle it?”

To solve this problem, we need some information from the dog owner. Some of the questions would be: How long have you had the dog? Has the behavior just started or has she done this since you got her? Are there any other pets in the home?

  • A Veterinary check.
    • The first step is to make sure there are no bladder or urinary problems such as an infection, etc. Your veterinarian can check this for you.
  • How often does this happen? Once a month could be a lapse in training. Three times a day could indicate a well-established habit. In this case, a refresher course beginning with the basics of housetraining is a good idea.
  • Are there any other pets in the home? If there are, your dog could simply be marking her territory when she comes inside. “Just a reminder everyone, this is MY bed.”
  • If other pets causing stress for your new dog, some training that involves giving your pup reinforcers (e.g., treats) in the presence of the family pets can help.
  • If other pets might be the issue, consider moving the bed to a quiet place until your new dog is acclimated.
  • When you do take your dog outside, spend enough time that she can empty her bladder. A quick walk may not do the trick. Ideally, there will be time to run and play and get good exercise.
  • Get rid of the odor. To address this problem, you need to remove the urine scent that signals to the dog, “this is where you can pee.”   Use an enzyme cleaner or replace the bed and use a plastic cover underneath the fabric cover (which is easily washable) until the problem is solved.



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Meet Casey: A Fire Dog

From AKC CGC Evaluator, Amy Linder

I’d like to introduce you to Casey. Casey is not an accelerant detection dog, but is a Fire Dog with Eugene Springfield Fire and the Oregon Fire Service Honor Guard.

caseyHe goes into classrooms and teaches crawl low under smoke, testing a smoke alarm, dialing 9-1-1, stop, drop and roll and what gear firefighters wear. He is a Project Canine certified therapy dog and a Hope ACR certified crisis response dog.

Casey combines all these skills to provide support to families and coworkers of fallen firefighters both in Oregon and Nationally. As I type this, we are sitting in a DC area airport waiting to fly home the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial weekend in Emmitsburg, Maryland (see photo).

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9/ll Dog Celebrates Birthday in NYC

Fourteen years ago in September 2001, Golden Retriever Bretagne and her handler Denise Corliss, members of the Texas Task Force 1, were sent on their first deployment—to the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the terrorists attacks that occurred on the morning of September 11.

bretagne-birthday-party-coverTogether for two weeks, they worked side-by-side on the rescue mission that soon turned to a recovery mission. At one point, Bretagne even left the side of her handler to rest her head on a weary firefighter who was resting on the ground.
This year, Bretagne celebrated her 16th birthday, and is the last living search-and-rescue dog who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

To honor her for her commitment to our country, Bretagne was given a special birthday celebration. She and Corliss spent a day in New York City, playing in a fountain, seeing Times Square, and even getting the “Bone to the Dog Park” (a Tiffany medallion representing the canine version of the “Key to the City) from the Friends of the Hudson River Park. Her trip was culminated in a surprise birthday party, complete with balloons, decorations, and a dog-friendly cake.
Thank you, Bretagne, for your service.

From AKC’s Woofipedia web page.

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Hugging Your Dog: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

National “Hug Your Hound Day” is coming up. As it turns out, many canine behaviorists think that hugging a dog is not such a good idea. The science doesn’t support it, hugs are human things, dogs can feel threatened if restrained, and on and on.

Here’s my take on it. You may or may not agree.

man hugs dogIn general, dogs don’t like hugging. Hugging and kissing are human things, and in some cases, a restraining hug can make a dog feel very uncomfortable. But, with proper training, you can teach your dog to tolerate a hug, and if you pair it with something the dog likes, hugs can become a reinforcer for the dog.

Reasons for teaching a dog you know to tolerate a hug include:

* Accepting hugs can be a part of a training program related to grooming and handling by veterinarians. Sometimes these professionals need to reach over or hold the dog.

* Responding acceptably to a hug might be important for some therapy dog settings where a child may suddenly attempt to hug the dog

* Dog owners love their dogs and giving the dog a hug can make the owner feel better. “Dear Dog, I feed you, walk you, play with you, and throw the tennis ball for hours. If I want to hug you every now and then after a rough day, that is what we going to do.”

Let us know what you think about hugging dogs either here or on the CGC Facebook page.

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Teaching Your Dog to “Leave it”

I was recently interviewed about Canine Good Citizen’s advanced tests- AKC Community Canine and AKC Urban CGC.

The reporter lived in a large metropolitan city and near the end of the interview, she said, “I would love to do this with my dog, but she could never pass these tests.” I asked which test items would be a problem. “Only one,” she said. “No matter what I do, my dog won’t ignore food or food containers on a sidewalk.”

pizza box sidewalkHere are some tips for teaching the “Leave it” command. The idea underlying this training is 1) that you’ve put a systematic plan in place and 2) you teach your dog good things may come her way if she follows your directions to “leave it.”


  1. Start by playing the “Leave it” game at home. Sit on the floor with your dog. Say, “Leave it,” as you hold a treat in your hand with your fist closed. The dog will sniff your hand and may try to get the treat.
  2. As soon as your dog stops trying to get the treat (or stops sniffing your hand), praise the dog. (Good girl!) Immediately give your dog a treat from the other hand.
  3. Practice this several times until the dog responds to “leave it.”
  4. Make this game harder by putting the food on the floor, covering it with your hand, and saying, ‘leave it.’ As before, when the dog stops trying to get the food, praise and give a treat from your other hand.


Now it’s time to start making the task approximate what will happen in the real world.

  1. At home, (indoors is fine), put your dog on a leash. You will have placed a few treats around the room or yard. Walk by the treats about 5 feet away and say, “leave it” if the dog starts to go toward the food.
  2. You can also use alternative behaviors here, such as telling the dog, “watch me” or “heel.”
  3. When the dog looks at you or turns away from the food on the floor/ground, praise and give a treat.
  4. Eventually you will fade out the treats and your dog should be able to walk by food or food containers with no trouble.


In the last phase of training, you’ll test the dog in the real world. Be sure to carry some treats in the initial phases of training. If you don’t see food on the sidewalk, you can plant some treats for training purposes.

With reinforcement for doing the right thing and systematic training, your dog will soon learn to “leave it.”

For questions about CGC, contact

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