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Cecelia & Sage, VCD2
by Cecelia Madsen

It’s a long road to achieve a VCD let alone a VCD2 with your dog. However, this long and winding road is usually full of exciting and interesting experiences. I began my journey along it in 1999 with a 10-week-old fluffy Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy that I named Sage.

From the beginning, Sage was the perfect dog for a 10-year-old girl with little knowledge of dogs. Joining the nearest 4-H club was the first step we took into the world of dogs, along with lessons from an agility instructor, and soon Sage was doing agility, obedience, and grooming and handling.

Our debut in the dog world began with Junior Showmanship. Our first try, we bumbled around the ring and managed to get a 1st place over one other competitor. I was 11 and Sage was just a year old. Afterwards, the judge told me I had won because I had walked my dog on the mats while the other girl had missed them. This certainly boosted my feeling of confidence. But by the fall of 2000 we’d managed to get the last two 1st places and graduated to Open Junior.

After several attempts in the Open Juniors ring, one being a class in which the judge never even looked at the small dogs, we decided that we weren’t really into the poses and pomp of the show ring. Agility had already won our heart anyway.

By June of 2000, we thought we were ready for our first agility trial. Oddly enough, we passed in Novice Standard with a second place and a score of 87. Looking back on that day now, I know I had no idea what I was doing out there in the ring. But it was fun, the people were nice, and we’d Q’d. At that age, that was really all that mattered. We continued trialing in Novice Standard for the rest of the summer, and soon had our NA.

In 2001, we again thought we were prepared for something we were not: Novice Obedience. However, we managed to pull off a qualifying score of 173 ½ without really knowing what we were doing. The next time we entered the obedience ring, knowing more about what was going on, we failed the recall with a double command. However, by March 2002, we had overcome that problem and achieved the CD with a 3rd and 4th place.

Back in agility, Sage was having problems with keeping the bars up. The NAJ took many tries, usually with the first or last bar coming down. However, by August 2002, Sage’s name had grown quite a bit longer, becoming Royal Mark Super Sage, AX, OAJ, CD. We’d unknowingly gotten the first title needed for the VCD2, but agility was just too fun to quit anyway.

Finally, in March 2003 we got our AXJ, and another month later our MX. Throughout the next year, I perfected Sage’s jumping technique and we were able to get our MXJ along with a few double Q’s by March 2004. 2003 had been a very dry year in terms of double Q’s, but we’d managed to pull off two. However, 2004 was much more generous.

By spring 2003, Sage and I had finished our training for Open Obedience. The drop on recall posed a few problems because Sage had the habit of anticipating the drop. But we plowed through this problem, and by November that year, we’d achieved the CDX and had also won a 2nd place in the ring. Now we’d completed the second component of a VCD2.

Doing agility with Sage had become much more natural by this time. We usually knew what the other was thinking, and so during the 2004 agility season, we’d gotten 12 more double Q’s and qualified for the Agility National Championships in Tampa, Florida. So we went! This was a completely different experience altogether. The flight, hotel, and huge indoor arena with bright lights were all new. We did manage to pass two of the courses and came in 60th in the 12” division. That was a lot of fun!

We’d also begun tracking by this time. Sage was doing really well with perfect turns and nice speed. We got certified in the summer of 2005, and by that fall, we’d gotten into two tests. We failed both, mostly because I was nervous and got impatient when she couldn’t get past the first turn. We’d have to wait until the next spring to enter again.

However, agility was coming full and strong. On June 25, 2005, Sage and I completed our MACH at a trial in Cato N.Y. – the same trial that we’d begun our agility career. This was really exciting, even though the weather was in the 90s and the humidity was awful. As a Novice handler I’d never even imagined that I might get a MACH – that was what the pros did. But I still definitely don’t feel like a pro even now that Sage has her MACH2. We went again to the Agility Nationals in Tampa, and this time my mom also brought her own corgi.

So, now for the TD. Well, on April 30, 2006, we drove a few hours to a tracking test in Pennsylvania. I drew the first track, and I was glad because then I wouldn’t have time to work myself up. We walked to the tracking site, and the conditions were perfect! There was dew on the short grass, no wind, and not too hot. I followed almost calmly behind Sage, not saying a word. We walked steadily along, and after five turns, there was the glove! I think that moment was made all the sweeter by the two previously failed tracks. It was a wonderful feeling. And that was the last part of the VCD2!

I’d like to thank my mother especially for driving me to all the shows, especially the tracking trials, even though she was showing her own dog anyway. I’d also like to thank the friends I’ve made in the dog world, especially agility, for all their help whenever I had problems and for just being great friends and people. I’m also thankful that I could get such a wonderful and ready-to-please dog such as Sage, now MACH2 Royal Mark Super Sage, VCD2, RE.

I’ve completely trained and handled Sage myself. To me, even earning an NA with a dog I trained myself would be better than earning a MACH with a dog trained by my parent. The teamwork and relationship that came from training my own dog is something I’d never give up. Now we’re training for the (f)utility ring and thinking about a TDX. Maybe a VCD3?