By Becky Henson
In my opinion, one of the best things the Collie Club of America has ever done to protect and promote the breed as a whole has been the introduction of Versatility Awards. Versatility Awards encourage breeders to breed for the ‘total Collie' as the awards are only earned by those Collies that meet the breed standard physically as well as showing the essential character of the breed by performing in herding and other working trials.
There are two levels of awards, the VA and VX. For both, the dog must qualify with AT LEAST a major win in conformation and a herding title of any kind, and a minimum number of points in other areas.
The VA or Versatility Award is awarded to the Collie that earns five points, at least one must come from each category; herding, conformation and obedience (includes tracking, agility and rally).
The VX or Versatility Excellent Award takes 10 points. Again, at least one must come from each of the three main categories.
Novice Obedience and Agility titles, Herding Tested or a Rally Excellent title will earn one point. A major, CDX, TD, Open Agility, or a PT title will be worth two points. Herding Started titles are worth three points. Four points: Championship, UD, TDX, Agility Excellent titles or an HI. Five points: UDX, VST, Masters Agility Titles or an HX. Six points are reserved for the working championships, OTCH, MACH, CT or HC. Only the highest title in each sport will be counted.
Many AKC breeds have been torn into two almost separate breeds by breeders selecting for appearance or ability exclusively. We are lucky to have avoided that pitfall, and have what appears to be a large untapped pool of working talent among ‘conformation' lines. Our “working” and “conformation” lines seem to be largely the same and that is a wonderful thing! I hope that even more breeders will keep the total Collie in mind when planning a litter or placing puppies. Performance is not a place for cast offs, but rather a place to show off your very best! More and more Collies earn these Versatility titles every year. Will your Collie be the next??
About Becky Henson of Montara Collies: I got my first Collie in 1990. I immediately was hooked on both conformation and obedience competition. That first smooth bitch got her first CD leg the same day she won our first specialty BOV and finished the CD the day we won our first specialty BOB. She was a great foundation -- CH Rogalin Dance Time In Texas, CD. I've never bred much, or had a large number of dogs, in order to spend more time with each doing 'the fun stuff'! I have competed in every level in obedience, agility and herding, as well as having finished bench Championships on six of my own dogs and many dogs of other breeds, but enjoy herding the most these days. I am an AKC Herding Trial Judge for A and B course. I serve currently as Working Collie Committee Chair and National Show Chair for Performance for the Collie Club of America.