On 4/4 we had a lovely spring storm that dumped 4'" of "snow cone material" first, followed by 8" of heavy wet snow. That combination knocked our power out for over 15 hours.
The snow has packed down a bit in the few days since so I figured we would get out and track again and use the snow as an opportunity to get Bea more focused since I would be able to see what she was and was not doing with the track.
I laid Bea's track at 9:45 AM under cloudy skies and no wind at 49 degrees F went off to do chores and came back 3+ hours later. We started to run the track at 1:25 PM after I had laid Annie's. Now however it is mostly sunny and 59 degrees F with a fairly strong wind.
The track started a good ways into the field of mown hay and I intentionally approached the flag at a right angle to the actual track path so that Bea does not think the track is always straight from the flag. She sits (whining with excitement) at the start as I snap the lead to her harness and get the start article. Bea then gets started and go to the flag and right immediately. Of course being able to see the track helps but it's really amazing how the dogs do NOT always use that clue (as I've seen in the past they still can get lost when the visual track is "right there")
First leg and she has no trouble with it even though laid over a weasel track that was less than 8 hours old and this weasel track meanders through our track on 2 legs. She makes the left turn with no issues and continues up leg 2, up a moderate incline. On this leg we had a set of several day old human tracks, the afore mentioned weasel, a 12 hour +/- rabbit track and 12-24 hour +/- 2-3 deer tracks. The people tracks got checked out for about 10' each side and I got her back to business pretty quickly. The deer tracks were VERY interesting and I had a bit more trouble but back to tracking she got and easily found the fleece toy. She finiahed up that leg and easily makes the left turn and starts the 3rd leg.
This leg recrosses the deer, which got less interest this time, and then plunges into 3-4' tall wheat grass. She has only brief issues with the long grass, but nothing fatal or failing if it were a test. She crosses a mown road and back into the tall grass. The grass gets shorter as we approach the woods and she gets right into the woods without hesitation. We run into a bunch more tracks of those same deer and again I have to work to get her back on task (she loves deer have I mentioned that?) Once back on task she jumps a fallen tree and follows the track straight up a 6' bank with a stone wall on the top. Again no hesitation at all and then we are out through brush and blackberry bushes into a field of ferns and brush. We cross a set of less than 8 hour old small coyote tracks with little notice and she makes the left turn and we start leg 4 down the incline crossing the deer tracks again and I have less trouble getting her focus back. Then we get into slightly taller grass and she finds the wallet. She is quite happy and tosses it a few times . Then we cross a large coyote track that is also less than 8 hours old with just a quick sniff and out onto mown field again and a right turn.
We continue across the top of the field on leg 5 with the tall stuff about 6' to our right. The wind is both in her face and coming up the incline and she stops a few times to sniff the wind and meander left and right. But we work on staying on the track for praise and less holding back and she gets back to business. As we approach the next turn we are heading straight at a tangle patch of woods and Bea slows and stares intently at it. She slows further and at the turn she continues several feet sniffing high. I stop and she circles me, gives a look at the woods again and then tracks to the corner and makes the left turn.
This last leg (#6) parallels the dark woods and she keeps stopping and staring. A sharp branch crack makes her jump and I am now totally convinced that we are NOT alone but I have no idea what it is and I don't think Bea ever does either. If I had to guess it would be coyotes but...
I keep talking to her which keeps her tracking focus and we cross a 8-10 hour fox track, a ton of fresh mouse tracks that meander back and forth, an 8 hour or less small coyote track, a large coyote track of the same age (which gets checked out a bit) through a wet patch, across the fox's tracks again and through another wet patch to the glove.
Bea is VERY happy and is flipping it and killing it. I tug with it and toss it a few times and she is happy and relaxed!
Snap the lead to her collar and she happily carries the glove off the field and to the car for her treats. She is a bit warm and panting but happy! The entire track was 1088 yards long and 3 hours 40 min old
We drive a bit up the road to Annie's track which is now 47 min old and 326 yards long. It is now less sunny and 53 degrees F
Annie is very ready to go but I have her sit while I snap the lead to her harness and get the start article which she actually mouths. Great she is becoming more interested in them.
She starts off down leg 1 and she is tracking really well until we get to a frozen wet spot and she does not want to cross the ice. Annie goes around the ice and immediately picks up the track again which I was happy about. She then loses focus a couple times and meanders but gets back to work and makes the right turn well. Shortly after she has a "puppy spaz" and scoots in a large circle trying to play in the snow. Silly creature. I get her back on track and she tracks really well for many feet and then spazes again but gets back in control only to leap onto a tuft of grass. It really was funny because even though she's 18 months old, mentally she is very much a puppy. We get back in control again and she tracks like a pro and makes another right turn and goes through a wet spot ok and then finds a large coyote track (less than 8 hours old, probably the same one from Bea's track across the road). Annie is facinated with this track and wants to switch to it but with much convincing we move past it.
Annie then stops and gazes back at it and my face and the coyote track and my face forlornly.... But no I insist we work and not play and so she tracks more. Through another wet spot and finds her leather article. Oh joy! She actually even flips it a time or two and is happy. I'm happy because in the past articles have not been her strong point. I pocket the article after much praise and Annie stops tracking. She is looking everywhere for that article. Finally we get tracking again and she does fairly well even though she keeps remembering the fun article and the coyote track behind us.
Up a hill and across the top she goes pretty darn good and she finds...... "What's this?" she says "yippee!" a glove!! and boy is she happy. She killing and flipping it and all her forlornness is gone . I snap the lead to her collar and take off the harness and let her play with the glove for many minutes. running back and forth and killing it and throwing it. I am so glad she has discovered the joy of articles
While she is not TD ready Annie is doing darn good for her mental maturity level and making HUGE strides!
YEAH for the girlies!! (who are now fast asleep!)