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Brooklyn dog is one millionth ‘Canine Good Citizen’

2019-08-15

Fiona, a Bernese mountain dog at a funeral home in New York. Fiona passed the test to become the club's 1 millionth "canine good citizen." (Nora Pavone/AP)

All dogs go to heaven — but some will go with a certificate for good behavior.

A Bernese mountain dog from Brooklyn became the one millionth canine to win a “good citizen” award from the American Kennel Club — a title given to obedient pups since 1989.

Fiona’s award is extra special, because she works in the Pavone Funeral home with her owner Nora, who’s managed the family-run establishment for decades.

The fluffy 18-month-old Fiona was brought in because Nora thought she might offer extra emotional support to customers — and employees — during difficult times.

“I love dogs, but I didn’t know how it would be perceived in this setting,” Fiona’s owner, Nora Pavone, told The Associated Press. “But it seems like actually, this would be the place where it would be needed the most.”

The American Kennel Club began the Canine Good Citizen program 30 years ago and it quickly became the gold standard for dogs and their owners.

The canine good citizen title and plaque is given to any pup who passes a 10-step behavioral test. Fiona, like previous winners, had to sit, stay, and walk on command while also proving she could be polite and friendly to canines and humans.

Fiona, described by her owner as sweet-tempered and sensitive, worked hard during training at Doggie Academy in Brooklyn — and it paid off.

She passed her good citizen test in June with flying paws and is now the official therapy dog for Pavone Funeral home.

Nora can now confidently rely on Fiona to be professional while providing comfort to families during difficult times, and sometimes even a few consoling licks.

“We wanted her to have proper manners ... to just be polite and gentle and always in control,” Pavone says. “To gently go up to someone and nudge their hand when they just need her to be next to them.”

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