Yes we got another snowstorm. 7 more inches of snow. While we often get snow in April, it is rare to get as much as we have.
So today I decided to lay a tricky track in order to challange Bea. While not our longest as it is 844 yards long, it is our oldest being 5 hours old. I laid the track at 7:45 AM under cloudy skies and a very light breeze in 32 degrees F. This track twists and turns and winds it's way through a nasty think forest and is laid over many many many deer and coyote tracks that range in age (at the time I laid the track) from 4-24 hours old. It is 50 degrees F when we start the track
The track starts innocently enough on our side lawn. The flag is near a rotting wood pile that is the local Chipmunk castle. We approach the flag so that the track starts in an acute right turn to us. Bea is quite cranked and her sit stay while I swap the line to her collar and get the start article leaves alot to be desired. She tugs on the start article as if it is the best toy in the world!
I set her off and she gets right on the track without hesitation. This leg 1 runs across the top of this lawn and then takes a left down an inclined lawn and to the left of a thick line of woods and brush that edge a steep ravine down to the brook.
This leg 2 goes all the way down the lawn and into the grove of what years ago were commercial Christmas trees but they are now 20' tall. We jump a Grouse in there and Bea halts to mark it's flight like a good Labrador (too bad she's a Rottweiler!) but with a "find it" she is back on the track and out into a small clearing of uncut grass and deer forage plants. We cross over two sets of coyote tracks and the tracks of an entire herd of deer, none of which Bea pays any attention to. We make another left turn just 15' before a stone wall.
Leg 3 runs along the bottom of this clearing and through some dead ferns and blackberry canes. This is crisscrossed by the same deer and coyote tracks and even runs with the deer tracks for a bit and Bea is still on the right track. We shove through some tight saplings and down a steep bank to the side of the paved road. Bea checks up and down the side and this time checks the deer tracks before commiting to crossing. She crosses a bit too high and seeks up and down a bit before again checking the deer tracks, but a quiet "leave it, find it" gets her back to business and she finds my tracks and up the short bank and over a log and stone wall into the woods she goes. She's right on track and ignores the deer and coyote tracks just 1' off the left of her track and easily makes the right turn over a stone wall.
Leg 4 runs about 10' from a stone wall within sight of the road and has several downed log crossings. Bea is doing well, although checking to make sure tracks really go over logs before she commits. She easily finds the wallet and is very pleased. She tosses it, catches it, shakes it and then tosses it at me with a big happy grin. Back on the track she goes and over a couple more logs before taking the next left turn right next to a set of deer tracks.
Leg 5 is only slightly winding as it threads through ever tightening trees and saplings. It runs on top of a deer track for aways and then veers off and Bea does not even hesitate and stays on my track. Gosh I'm not tricking her at all! The track goes up to and over a large flat rock and Bea checks both ways first. Checks the deer track, checks the other side and finally about the 3rd time past the rock realizes I went OVER it and over she goes and off the high other side. A deer track crosses the track and we go right past and Bea stops at the top of a high side to a bowl shaped depression. She checks both ways and follows my track as it curves down the right side and skirts a large tire pile. She then follows it as it skirts the edge of this bowl and then up a steep bank to a narrow ridge that runs along this bowl and is also a deer trail. On the far side of the bowl the track takes a left.
Leg 6 is the leg from hell. This leg is a twisting and winding thing. The woods gets horribly dense with brush, saplings, blackberries etc. We get tangled a couple times and Bea patiently waits while we untangle and I shorten the line again. Then she waits not once but 3 times when I lose my hat and shorten the line again. We cross deer, coyote, more coyote and deer tracks. We twist and turn and weave our way through this maze of stuff. Bea hesitates NOT ONCE except when asked to "wait". She is loving this! We cross a brook and more deer tracks and there is our wool glove! Yippee! We play a short tug and then rest a bit. I am sweating to death! We then take off again with no problems, cross a stone wall and wind our way through the start of the mess my husband calls the "UN natural disaster" This is a mess left from a crappy logging job years ago. Logs, branches, tree tops everywhere, it's a jumbled mess. We slow down to avoid breaking a leg and cross several logs. We then approach a brook (Bea checked to see if we crossed and then checked downstream and then up before commiting) and follow it upstream for quite a ways and finally cross it, get through some more tangles and cross a second brook and enter the heart of the mess. We wind our way carefully through and finally exit it! YEAH! We enter an unmown field and cross a coyote track and a second one, then straight ahead to a right corner. Bea checks past it first and then commits.
Leg 7 should be easy but after being in the closed woods the scent on the smooth snow of the open and soggy field was apparently quite disperse and Bea kept tracking, then checking off the the right towards a line of tall stuff, then back on track, then checking. If this were a test I'd be having a heart failure now. each time she checks to the side she pulls strong but her nose is up and I'd know (I hope) she was not on track even if I did not see the track. Finally we get even with a barn and the scent settles down and she tracks straight to the glove! Oh happy day! Bea is very pleased with herself and oh look, we are right across the street from our house.
It took me 25 minutes to lay this track and Bea ran it in just 15. I did not fool her a bit. I am quite pleased with her performance
Next I get Miss Annie out to run her 293 yard track that I lay at 12:30. It is 1:10 when we get outside. I apparently have brought out the ADD version of Annie. I know this is going to be hard for her. We've never tracked her on our own property AND the track goes up the field that she knows we feed the turkeys in.
We start off on leg 1 which runs along the bottom of our other side lawn. This side of the property is all squishy wet right now. We go along well a few feet, have a loss of focus moment, get it back for a few feet and then lose it again. We pass the area we feed the birds in and lose it again and then regain composure and make a perfect left turn and then she loses her brain again.
leg 2 runs up the lawn and about 10' from a line of bushes and Annie tracks well and then zips over to the bushes. Tracks well and jumps into a puddle. Tracks well and digs in the mud. You get the picture. Interestingly enough all the squirrel and turkey tracks we cross get NO notice. BUT as we pass about15 yards from where the turkeys get fed the brain vanishes again. I get it back and then we pass the picnic table and lost again. <sigh> She passes the turn BUT realises she has and comes back. I wait her out and lo and behold she finds it and commits for a few more feet onto this leg which is now on unmown grass.
On leg 3 we cross more Turkey and Woodcock tracks and she's actually getting better and more "with it" until we find the big puddle. After being facinated with this for a bit she tracks on. She misses the next turn in favor of checking out the tractor ruts BUT then finds the acute right turn
Annie tracks along VERY well on leg 4 with only minor distraction until alost the end of the leg and then the tractor ruts call her back again. OK we get out of there and she tracks to the corner and makes it only to get trapped by a nice distracting puddle with grass.
FINALLY get the muddy grass out of her mouth and miraculously she tracks PERFECT the rest of the leg. She ignores more Turkey tracks and goes right to the end and the glove. She is actually happy to find it and after removing her harness we play with it all the way down the field. THEN I find out why my ADD pup was even more distractible then normal. She had to poop! Poor thing. I had walked her and she had peed but she never poops midday. Guess it was time for a change. Note to self. Make sure Annie does not need to poop before tracking!