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Know The Code

Bet you think CD stands for Companion Dog. Well, it does, but it stands for so much more.

This title means that the owner has spent many hours one-on-one with that dog. They have worked around the house, they have gone to countless classes, they have made multiple excursions to the park, they have entered many matches, they have probably traveled together and stayed in motels together. The dog is in harmony with the owner enough to follow him or her through a complex heeling pattern without a leash and to come at a snappy pace when called. Multiply those hours by 100, 1,000, or 10,000 for the dog and owner that have earned advanced Rally titles or the CDX, UD, UDX, or OTCH.

Then there’s hunting (or herding or earthdog or tracking or lure coursing or cart pulling or sledding). The Junior Hunter (JH), SH or MH after a dog’s name or the FC for Field Champion before it means that that English Setter bird dog has been given the incredible gift of doing what it was developed to do. What a caring owner to find the components for bird work and a place where the dog can hunt -- and what a lucky dog.

Then there’s agility. The letters NA (Novice Agility) after the dog’s name mean that the dog and owner have learned to navigate an intricate pattern of equipment with the dog off leash and running at top speed. The dog has learned to read the handler’s body motions and respond, even if the handler is behind the dog. Usually, the dog and handler have an absolute blast doing this. If the dog progresses through the Open and Excellent levels and even attains a MACH (Master Agility Championship), the months they spend together with quality time turn into years and the bond grows and grows.

The letters Ch before the dog’s name indicate that the owner searched out a dog that conforms to the breed standard well enough to earn fifteen points in the conformation ring. For English Setter owners, this also means many hours spent with the dog on the grooming table – more wonderful bonding time.

Before I got into conformation showing and performance activities, I thought I could give my dogs plenty of enrichment and have an amazing bond with them without engaging in organized activities. But once I started going to dog shows and performance events with them, what a difference! Not only did we hang out together, we worked on skills together every day. My dogs learned to read my movements and my mind. They love training. While I train one dog, my other dogs stand vigil intensely awaiting their turn.

Though it’s true you can develop a good bond with your dog if you don’t work toward titles, the competitions are the inspiration for the perspiration required to go ahead and spend the time. The title letters before and/or after your dog’s name mean so much more than just the fact that you won or qualified. They mean that you and your dog spent quality time together over many months or years to reach a milestone and that you are teammates as well as soul mates.

When you know the code, you know that CD, JH, Ch, NA, and all the other title abbreviations stand for love.

 
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