Kerry came to me from Locklyn Guzman, Apple Acres, as an eleven week old puppy. She was the only bitch in a litter of five, which was a repeat breeding of Ch. Trevanne’s Grand Am, CD to Ch. Apple Acres Photo Shoot. In addition to Kerry, these breedings produced MACH3 Apple Acres Graham Slam TD CDX RE HSAds HIAds MXG MJC OF VCD2, and Ch Apple Acres Lucky Number. Little did I know that this 14 inch girl would become the first of generations of multi-talented Sagebrush Shelties.
Kerry first saw sheep when she was a four month old pup, throwing herself through the gap in the fence rails to try to get to them. She earned her HCT title from the American Herding Breed Association in May of 2000. Because of my commitments to my other dogs, we dropped herding for several years after that. But we kept working in agility and tracking, interrupted only by her first litter of five puppies, which included Ch Sagebrush Ceili Music, CD TD HT RN MX MXJ VCD1 VCX.
We also started tracking when she was a year old, and continued to track in the winter when it was too messy for agility.
Kerry won her first points in August 2002, and by October she was minored out. Then she stalled out looking for majors. In November 2002, she took a major RWB, while her own daughter won the major. Throughout 2003, I entered her in every show that was likely to have a major entry, skipping agility trials to do so. She only shed her coat after every other heat so I could fortunately show her most of the year. She won her first major came in July 2003 up in Oregon, with Dottie Adkins handling.
Kerry started agility as a young dog, although my mistakes in training came back to haunt us through her career. She loved jumping! We started competing in 2001, and she had earned her AX and AXJ by the spring of 2002. Throughout 2003, I continued to show Kerry in agility trials whenever they didn’t conflict with possible majors. She finished her MX in November 2003.
Through this time, I continued to train her in tracking. By December 2003, she was ready for her certification track, which turned out to be a very difficult track that she passed on her first try. She competed in her first tracking test in January 2004, making it through most of the test, before overshooting the fifth turn beyond recovery. Oh, well.
In 2004, Kerry’s titles came one on top of the other. In February, I entered her in the SSC of Northern California specialty and the two Santa Clara Kennel Club shows on the following days. I was worried that she wouldn’t show for me, as she didn’t like the noise of indoor shows. She showed well but did nothing Saturday or Sunday, and although Monday had the smallest entry, it did have a major in bitches–but would it hold? I took Kerry in the ring, and she won the open sable class. The major held. I was a nervous wreck waiting for the winners class. Then I took her in, and she showed like a dream, and we walked out with the purple ribbon. Kerry was a champion! And she had done it near home with me handling her, and all my friends and fellow Sheltie Club members there to cheer me on!
Meanwhile, Kerry had made the draw for the Sacramento Dog Training Club tracking test the following weekend. (Yes, her whiskers had been clipped for the breed ring.) On Sunday morning, she and I drove the two hours to Sacramento in a cold pre-dawn rain. She drew the eighth of the twelve tracks. The rain had stopped, but it was still cool when she ran, and although she overshot turns, she had no particular trouble completing the track. Thirteen minutes after she started, she had earned her TD. Interestingly, she was one of four breed champions entered in that tracking test, and three of them passed.
Kerry earned her first HT leg at the National Specialty in Riverside, after only two practice sessions on sheep. In May she finished her MXJ. Her agility competition was interrupted in 2004 by her second litter, but in May she finished her MXJ.
In the summer of 2004, we started some more lessons on sheep with the HT as our next goal. In March 2005, I entered her in two more AKC Herding Tests, and she passed both days. This qualified her for the ASSA Champion+VCX award. She was the first of five generations of my Shelties to earn that title.
When the agility trials started up again in the spring of 2005 I decided that how well we did that year would help me decide whether I could reasonably expect her to get her MACH. We stopped fooling around with a little of everything and focused on agility. Our first weekends were disappointing, and I was almost ready to call it quits. She was distracted and worried, I was mis-cuing her, we just weren’t together. Then in June we hit our stride, and the points and Double-Qs started coming. We weren’t the fastest team in the trial, but she was qualifying consistently.
I wanted to breed Kerry in February 2006, as she was nearly seven years old. So I showed her in as many agility trials as I could, hoping to finish her MACH. By the time she came in heat, she had 726 points, and was entered in two weekends of trials in March, after she would be safely out of heat.
By the very last trials she was entered in, she needed 16 points. I knew she was in whelp, but she didn’t, when she ran at the Shetland Sheepdog Club Of Northern California trials the first weekend of April. On Saturday, she qualified in her standard run for 13 points. On Sunday morning, everyone was watching her jumpers run. She wasn’t running as fast as usual, but she didn’t need to. She ran clean in Jumpers to earn exactly 3 points and finish her MACH. She definitely didn’t like all the applause, but she had no hesitation about taking the chicken that another competitor offered her when we got out of the ring. She also qualified in her standard run to give her an extra 6 points. Five weeks later she whelped a litter of four puppies.
Kerry earned her PT title in herding in November 2006. If I had it to do over again, I would have focused more on herding, which she clearly loved. She was trained for TDX, but she performed inconsistently in tests. Although she came close, she never managed to pass. Her nervousness about the presence of strangers (like judges!) made it difficult to focus on her track.
Kerry retired when we left California for Colorado in the spring of 2012. She spent her final years as a beloved house pet, before we made the decision to let her go in 2014, at the age of fifteen years and four months.