Thursday, June 4, 2015

Temperament Test, Take 2

This Saturday in Alpharetta is going to be busy. I got my confirmation letter on Monday. There are going to be 73 German shepherds at this show. SEVENTY-THREE! I think the most I have ever seen at one show was 30. I am overwhelmed.

Does Jedi have this kind of self control?
Along with two specialty shows, Jedi and I are taking a temperament test. The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Georgia is bringing in official German Shepherd Dog Club of America evaluator in from Virginia to test our dogs. Passing dogs get a title (TC); failing dogs just make a nice donation to the club. I've only seen this test done twice in the 10 years: once at another club's show in Orlando, and again last year when the German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida flew in the same evaluator. We were set up to take the test then, but shit happened and we were deemed ineligible. The test is given so infrequently that it was the deciding factor to do the Alpharetta shows. Cross your fingers!
So what exactly is this temperament test I want to take so badly? It's the official GSDCA assessment of a dog's reactions to certain situations. Jedi's tests will include:
  • Unusual footing: Jedi will be asked to walk across a tarp and a piece of chain link fencing on the ground. Will he balk?
  • Sudden noises: Someone will rattle a can behind a blind. Another will crack an agitator whip. Will Jedi check it out? Will he cower? (Usually someone fires a starter pistol, but since a horse show will be going on at the same time we're testing, the Equestrian Center has asked that we not fire a gun. Horses can be skittish.)
  • Scary objects: A large umbrella will be opened at Jedi and then dropped to the ground. Will he spook? Will he recover and investigate the umbrella?
  • Neutral stranger: Someone Jedi doesn't know will walk up to me and have a conversation, ignoring the dog. This one doesn't worry me.
  • Friendly stranger: Another person Jedi doesn't know will come up to us and touch Jedi. THIS one worries me! (Sometimes he's an ass.)
  • Threatening stranger: Wearing a floppy hat, sunglasses and trench coat, a bat wielding stranger will come up and make "threatening overtures." Will Jedi attempt to protect me? Will he try to eat the bad guy?
So what is the evaluator looking for? Below is a description of the ideal GSD temperament according to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (our parent club and keeper of the breed standard):
"The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character."
Dear Jedi, don't be this dog!
Even though this is set up by the German Shepherd Dog Club, dogs of other breeds are welcome to take the test. The first time I saw the test there were several Labrador retrievers in the mix. When it came time for the gun fire, all the German shepherds turned around and looked to see where the shots came from. The labs, however, all looked up. I was confused until the owner told me that they were hunting dogs and were waiting for the bird to fall.

I have NO idea how well Jedi will do. But don't worry, I'll tell you either way. I'm hoping that I can find someone to take pictures too. Anyway, wish us luck! (And if you happen to be in Alpharetta this Saturday, please stop by the Equestrian Center and say hi. I could use a friendly face. I am so out of my league this weekend.)

P.S. It's Thoughtless Thursday! Obviously I'm overthinking this weekend. Hop around below and see what others are thinking -- or not thinking -- about today. -- K


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