Vicktory dog Lance passes Canine Good Citizen test

On May 6, all of Dogtown celebrated a victory that’s been six long years in the making. Lance, one of 22 dogs who came to Best Friends from NFL player Michael Vick's dogfighting ring in 2007, aced his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. This is more than a major milestone for the nine-year-old dog; it means that he can finally go home to the family who’s been waiting for him for years.

Canine Good Citizen test prep

Due to a court order, Lance was required to pass the CGC test before being placed in a home. The 10-part test places dogs in mildly stressful situations to gauge how appropriately they'd react in real life scenarios.

Lance has undergone intensive test preparation since coming to the Sanctuary. Not only has he worked with a number of Dogtown trainers over the years, but he’s also lived in the office of adoptions manager Kristi Littrell. Each day, Kristi would help Lance practice what he learned from his trainers. For example, Lance would have to sit and stay at one end of the room while Kristi placed his food on the floor. Once she called him over, he could enjoy his meal.

With all his hard work, Lance might have passed the test years ago. But, one thing was holding him back. Like many people, Lance has test anxiety: he could perform well on many of the individual components of the test, but when it came time to go through all 10 items at once, Lance could sense the pressure and would freeze up. The loose-leash walking exercise was especially difficult for him; he’d simply put on the brakes.

The real test

To help Lance overcome his anxiety, Kristi and Dogtown trainer Cherie Mascis began taking him through dry runs of the test. That way, by the time Lance was ready for the real test, he’d feel more confident. This was the plan one day – another dry run.

But then something amazing happened. Lance started off on a high note. And, suddenly, he was on a roll. He loose-leash walked easily, didn’t flinch once during grooming, and startled momentarily when Cherie dropped a metal comb on the ground (to gauge his reaction to distractions), but recovered immediately. And he walked calmly through a small crowd of people.

As Kristi and Cherie checked off the items on the test list, they realized that Lance was actually turning a dry run into the real thing. Word spread quickly through Dogtown; Lance had passed his CGC test — finally.

Unwavering devotion to adopting Vicktory dog Lance

And then an elated Kristi shared the news with Victoria and George. The couple had been waiting for this since they applied to adopt Lance — four years ago. Since that time, their devotion has never wavered. They’ve come to the Sanctuary every three or four months to visit Lance and to talk to his trainers about his progress.

They believed Lance would pass the test — someday. But George had no idea, when he picked up the phone that day, that he was about to hear that Lance was officially a Canine Good Citizen: “(When Kristi) told me … it was like my chin hit the floor and I was in total shock. It’s been a long time coming. He had our hearts from the first time (we met him). We’ve never given up on him.”

Now, Lance has something wonderful to look forward to. He has a loving family committed to giving him the best life possible. “He’s going to live a nice, quiet family life,” George promises. 

Get more information about the Vicktory dogs.

Photos by Sarah Ause Kichas