Before the Test
We met at a Denny’s for the draw. In tracking there is an advantage to an earlier track – early tracks are often aged less and are likely to have more dew remaining on the vegetation. Dew is good because moisture enhances scent.
Before the draw I got to meet a Facebook friend in person! Kristine travelled all the way from Calgary for the test.
I don’t know what I expected for the draw but the test organizers had four lovely mugs lined up, filled with dog cookies and wrapped in cellophane. We each chose a mug and on the bottom of the mug was the number corresponding to the track number we would be assigned. We drew 3rd track.
I got Bear out of the car, let him pee and then we had a few minutes to wait until the track was old enough. we walked the short distance to the scent pad, and I put Bear’s harness on backwards. Once I got it on properly, I showed him the scent pad and told him to find it.
I brought him back to the track once before the 2nd set of flags and we were off. Before we hit the second leg, Bear squatted to poop. I looked back the judge and tracklayer were standing watching but no whistle so once Bear was finished – we continued.
After the car, we drove en masse to the test site at Beaudry Provincial Park. The terrain is almost exactly the same as what we have here in Shilo. Natural prairie grass about knee high. We got to watch the first track, which I was looking forward to since I’ve never seen a test. Luckily enough the team was comprised of a novice dog but a an experienced handler. From far, it was really neat to watch. It was obvious to me when the dog was on and off the track. there was only one little “discussion” along the way where the dog was certain the track ran along a ditch and the handler was not so certain. Eventually the dog made her point clear and the handler followed. They found the article and finished the track in what seemed like less than 15. It was very educational – training alone means I never get to watch a team work from far.
After track #1, I had to return to our original meeting point in the park because they had to lay my track and I would be able to see the tracklayer at work from track #2. The good news is that meant we would have a relatively fresh track. The bad news is that we would not be able to watch Kristine and her Rottie Teah and I would be alone in my car with my nervousness and anxiety. During our wait, I took bear for a walk, a pee, made sure he did not have to poop, gave him a drink of water and then cocooned myself in the car, checked up on Facebook and blogs I subscribe to distract myself.
About a half hour after they left me, someone came back to take me to our track.
I took bear out of the car and, since we had some time to wait before the track was sufficiently aged, I took Bear out for another pee and organised my tracking line and harness. It was fairly windy (I would guess 25-30km/h) and our first leg was into the wind. I got Bear inbto his harness backwards, then readjusted it, showed him the scent pad and told him to “find it”.
On the first leg we had some difficulty and I brought him back to the track once before we hit our 30m marker flags. About 60 feet into the track, Bear crouched down for a poop. I stood, and looked back embarrassingly at the judge – expecting a whistle. Nothing came, so we continued. Before the test, I decided to go wherever Bear lead me. and about 80 feet in he circled a bit and then turned right…we continued on without a whistle so I assumed we made the first corner.
On the second leg, we progressed through some vehicle tracks and what looked like a place where deer had lain for a time as we moved forward, I saw the start flags for the final flag ahead and figured our corner was coming. Turning to the right would take us back to the road so I assumed at some point, we were going right.
Bear did turn right onto what I assumed was the third leg and then we had some more difficulty working into the wind and through some sort of animal droppings (goose, I think). Bear did a lot of stopping, starting, crossing back and forth, chewing (on lord knows what!?). We went ahead for quite sometime like this – it felt like an eternity. I tried using our find it key, I tried holding my ground and waiting for him to commit but he kept circling and coming back to look at me as if to say “what the heck is going on here?”. he also stopped to listen to train whistles and watch folks pass by on the road. It had been at least 10 minutes and he was starting to huff and puff so I just decided to let him go and see what happened. he found some sort of trail, urine marking a few spots along the way and about 60 feet later, we heard the whistle – It was over. I was relieved and disappointed.