Today was the big day: our test with the Delta Society. I was extremely nervous about it, but tried very hard to calm myself down because I knew that Claire would react to my mood. We got there on time and then found out that the evaluators were running 30 minutes behind. I was frustrated because I just wanted to get the test over with! I decided to take Claire for a walk outside to calm myself down and to get her focused. By the time we came back, everyone was ready to go.
There are two parts to the test: (1) Skills, and (2) Aptitude. You and your dog have to be able to complete all of the exercises to pass. In the Skills part of the test, you have to show that your dog can: accept a friendly stranger, accept petting, walk on a loose-leash without pulling, walk through a crowd, have a calm reaction to visual and auditory distractions, sit on command, lie down on command, stay in place while you walk away and come back, come when called, and not react or cross over your midline when approached by another team (dog and handler). In the Aptitude part of the test, you have to show that your dog can: accept a hands-on check of appearance and grooming, accept clumsy petting, accept a restraining hug, not react to people staggering/gesturing and then allow them to pet her, not react to people yelling and then allow them to pet her, not react to being bumped from behind, stay calm when being crowded and petted by multiple people, walk past a toy that someone has thrown on the ground, and take a treat from a person's hand gently.
When you are tested on come-when-called, the evaluator pets your dog while you walk to the other end of the room. They just want to see if your dog will go straight to you when you call her rather than wander all over the place and ignore you. Claire, however, was loving the rubdown that she was getting from the evaluator, so she just sat there next to him and stared at me for awhile, as if to say, "This nice man is loving on me, why do you want me to come to you right now?! Are you crazy?!" She did end up coming to me after a few seconds, but she had the evaluator laughing - he said he'd never seen a dog do that before!
It was pretty overwhelming to look at the checklist before getting evaluated. But we had practiced for weeks and knew our stuff! Claire can be a bit stubborn during training sometimes, so I wasn't sure if it was going to be a show-off day or not! However... WE PASSED!!!! It was a lot of hard work, and there are things that we can continue to perfect, but Claire did so great! We're Delta girls now!