Our First Tracking Test – Prepared for the worst, hoping for the best.

This weekend, Bear and I are going to a tracking test. This will be our first time at a test – I was too much of a chicken last year and backed out at the last minute. This year I’m still a chicken, but I’m going anyway.

Between some time off tracking in the spring and being rather busy with agility, work and rally this summer, I have not been able to fix our main issue – corners. Pair the lack of progress with oppressive heat and you have a perfect recipe for lack of motivation.

Without direct, in person, access to a tracking teacher or experienced tracker, things are difficult. My training so far has taught me how to solve problems, my experience has taught me how to identify problems in many ways but I’m struggling with Tracking. I think I am struggling the most because: I’m not exactly sure how to create circumstances that help Bear to be successful; I don’t know what the progressive steps are between ‘not knowing corners’ and ‘knowing corners’ and, most of all, it is not apparent to me when Bear is losing scent – I know there HAS to be a signal but it is either too subtle or I have inadvertently conditioned it out of Bear.

I was not really that motivated this spring to go and do some work with some more experienced folks in Winnipeg and, in hindsight, I should have taken advantage of their offers.

Prepared for the Worst

I sit here almost certain that we will fail, but we’re going anyway.

This is going to be very hard for me.

By nature, I like to be good at anything I do and I’d prefer to be perfect. This preference means I also have a fear of looking incompetent in front of others – especially when I am incompetent!

The last time I did something I was horrible at was when I trained for – and ran – a half marathon. I was overweight (especially compared to the other runners), slow as hell, and not even in the universe of placing – even in my age class. Sticking to the program and finishing the race was a challenge to try something I am awful at and see what I could do.

I am trying to look at this test in the same way – as a character building, humbling experience. I am also forcing myself to look at all the good things that will come of going (and failing).

  • I know that we will meet some new friends and that their more experienced eyes might have some helpful feedback.
  • I can almost guarantee that more experienced people (including the judge) will have failed a tracking test at some point in their lives and they will likely be sympathetic.
  • I have also recently learned that the judge is going to give a 1/2 day tracking seminar and cover some of the issues that pop up over the test. I am going to learn a lot – I know it.
  • Bear will have a good time – he never has a bad time tracking and he nevergets upset about missing corners.
  • There will be lunch – Lets face it, a good meal puts a lot of things into perspective!
  • This will be an excellent opportunity to remember what it’s like to be new at something – something I think judges in any venue should never forget.

Hoping for the Best

If, by some miracle, we make it past at least one corner I am promising myself to be thrilled. That’s all I’m hoping for. Fellow trainers have told me that Bear might surprise me and make it to the end of the test. I won’t rule it out but I know that unexpected success will be much easier for me to cope with than unexpected failure.

One thought on “Our First Tracking Test – Prepared for the worst, hoping for the best.

  1. Oh my. . .that is exactly how I feel when we go to a WC test – and there have been a few. . . and we still haven’t passed. That said, I learn something every time. You tell that Bear of yours that if Sonny can track, so can he! Give him lots of time at the start pad to get the scent, and then hang on and trust him!
    Tracking people are a wonderful bunch. I’ve laid track for a few tests now, and have been there to see a TDX dog that has traveled for hours to get to the test, not even get much past the start line. It happens. It has happened to everyone. I’ll be thinking of you two. . . . and have a great lunch 🙂

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