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Doubts, insecurities and second thoughts about our readiness-4/22/07

Filed in - training - tracking - rottweiler

Ask me right now if I think we'll pass our TDX test on next Sunday and my answer will  be a "hell no". Personally I'm contemplating pulling our entry.

I asked experienced trackers what we should do between the 19th and 29th as far as practice. About 1/2 said don't track and 1/2 said short tracks utilizing the cornfield we have little experience in. Since we have had almost NO bare ground tracking this year I opted for the short tracks. But after today that choice may have done more harm than good.

If you asked me last Dec, I'd have said send me a test.
Ask me after last week and you'd have gotten the same answer.
Ask me today and I'll tell you my dog could not track her way out of a bag. But ya know almost everyone says that happens right before a test. last year it happened to us a month before hand

Our week has stunk plain and simple. Last Mon 1/2 our roof blew off and the inside of the house got soaked. The insurance company sent a drying company here and for a week we've had 8-10 dryers, 2 huge dehumidifiers and a floor drying system going. The air is now dry in the house and hubby and I have sore throats and my nose is stuffed up. But they have to keep this stuff going to dry the ceiling and walls out or we'll have toxic mold. So maybe Bea's nose is dried out too?

I got up early to get everything done and at 7am laid a pair of short tracks for Bea that went in and out of 2 different cornfields. 2 hours later I dragged hubby over to do a cross track in one of them. When I laid the tracks it was a great, clear skied, 41 degrees F, unfortunately it heated up fast. So on top of being dried out husks, neither Bea nor I "do heat" even remotely well. OK we DON'T do it at all, we barely function... Heat for us is anything 70 and above F

At 11:30 we head back over and I knew before we got there it was going to be a problem. The dogs were panting heavily in just the 3 mile ride. It is now 71 degrees F and partly cloudy. I lay Annie's track and get Bea out. She is tongue dragging and we have not even left the car. I DID remember water for her today though.

So we start her first track at 11:49 and it is now mostly sunny and 73 degrees F, this track is 4 hours, 41 min old and is 242 yards long. The track start is in a farm road that is mud and ruts leading through a med sized puddle and brook about 15' away. Yup we are off to a grand start because Bea can't even find the track. She's in the bushes on the right, she follows the water to the left, she circles me, she crosses the water. Nothing. The dog can not smell ANYTHING. She even passes over coyote poop with zero scent indication. This is 100% NOT my dog. After 5 min of waiting, I cross the water and am now about 20' from the start and I wait again. Again nothing. I give her some water and try restarting. Ok she's off.

She is not pulling hard though, just medium and we enter the cut corn field. She's also about 4' left of the track. There is a moderate wind from behind me, there was none when I laid the track. All of a sudden her head comes up and she charges to the right and finds the first article, a knitted mitten. I give her more water and send her off. She pulls along and then nothing again. We should be at a right corner but again Bea acts like she cannot smell anything and she is panting. I can see the next article down the next leg, it's a large cap. Bea however shows zero indication that she can find the track. I let out all the line so that her circle will take her to the grass at the edge of the field, nothing. FINALLY she tugs harder. She is about 5' to the left of the track. I go with her for a few steps and then she loses it again. Circle, circle, circle and then she SEES the hat and goes to it.

This is not working. I decide she has one more leg and we are done this track. The hat was in tall laid over grass and Bea works it well and tracks hard to the edge of the corn field where she loses it. But then pulls hard a few feet and loses and then pulls steady. She's 8-10' to the right of the track now- I think- corn fields do weird things to my sense of space. But yes I was right as all of a sudden up comes her head and she zips that distance to the left and grabs the cell phone. More water and I send her off thinking maybe things are getting better. She pulls fairly steady along, loses it, pulls, loses it, pulls and then sort of pulls and I realize we are too far, we passed the last turn. bea loses scent again and circles back. I back up, she circles. Nothing. I back up more, circle, nothing. I again back up and she semi pulls to the right, gets to the long laid over grass again and loses it. I wait her out for 10 min and keep backing up each circle. I think we are still too far but we are getting no where. I make an executive decision to end this.

I put her in a down, give her water and I go look for the glove... and I don't find it either. Great. Now I am annoyed. I give up snap the lead to Bea's collar and start back out. Lo and behold about 30 FEET from where we are (we were past the leg by that much) Bea sees or scents the glove and proudly brings it. I take it but there's no party. At the brook I have her lie in it while I decide to try or not the other short track

Bea seems cooler and I decide to give this a TRY. I would like to end on a +. I was wrong but that's in the past now.

It is now 77 degrees F and it's 12:30 so this 230 yard track is now 5 1/2 hours old. Bea starts fair but then totally loses scent. She is on mown field about 30' from the cornfield. She keeps going towards the field. She has zero scent again. Then she goes along about 5' to the right of the track and we get almost all the way down the leg to where hubby crossed my track twice about 4' apart. You guessed it she turned to follw his tracks. They were his tracks OUT. Interesting that he was wearing leather boots and I always wear rubber ones when tracking and laying track. However she is NOT pulling me and acts like she can BARELY smell it and circles back, tries his again and then gives up (I did nothing to discourage her she just gave it up). She then wants to go to the field and then circles again and comes to Rob's IN to the field track. Follows it about 10" and gives up and circles again. I take 5 steps and she circles.

Bea then crosses the next leg beyond where the one I'm standing on turns right. the wind is across this track and while she starts out on it, she then drifts to about 10' to the right and stops. I stop. I can see the article, a yellow bandanna. I decide to back up and see if she'll restart the leg. Bea does on it, off it, circle, drift, crosses it and then stumbles across the bandanna which she is THRILLED to find. I give her water and she starts off down the leg good and thencuts right like she made a right turn. That's all well and good except she is 15' early. I'm done with this horror show and take off her harness and "I" pick up the next article and put her in a down stay while I look for the glove. You guessed it I can't find this one either. I have HORRIBLE depth perception. I KNOW I'm in the right latitude but that's it.  I decide to come back after and I take Bea to the car, water her and crate her. I have NEVER quit a track before but my dog simply cannot smell.

I almost don't get Annie out (by the way she'd been crated with the hatch open and all the windows open and was barely even panting) but decide I'll give her a try. I give her water and off we go. We get to the start of her now 1 1/2 hour old 214 yard track with the wind in her face and it is 78 degrees F and "I" am dying. However she starts off well except she is quartering like a spaniel. However she IS quartering back and forth across the track so I leave it. It IS her oldest and hottest temp track to date.

Annie also seems to be having scenting trouble but she is managing it differently and seems to be having less trouble overall. She is about 5' to the right of the track at the 3/4 point down the first leg so on her next quarter to the left I step left with her and she overshoots the corner so I back up. She dubs around in the wet mucky area a bit and then sets off down the next leg (a right) and finds the first article fine. She then quarters down the leg and overshoots again. I back up and she finds the left corner and then plays in a puddle and a hole in the ground. Then with much less quartering and with the wind in her face she makes it to the end!  So that was respectable if a bit weird so I let her off leash to go find that missing cornfield glove

She wizzes around and actually follows a smidge of my track, then part of Robs and then "I" find the glove. Once again not where I had thought it was

I give this day up, I'm having as bad of a day as Bea. bring them home with the AC blasting and hose them down. After 40  min laying in the kitchen I take them out to potty and decide to see if Bea REALLY can't smell or if it was the cornfield. So I lay her a VERY VERY short (as in about 100' total) on soaking wet grass, mushy stuff with 1 article on leg 1 and a glove on leg 2. Bea has not seen a fresh track in forever but I bring her out and she is happy to start and yup, can't smell. Then she seems to pick it up and finds the mitten and makes the corner and loses it again and then follows the drift about 5' to the right and interesting enough I think she CAN smell the gloves because her head came up and she ran to it and was all pleased. They are many many many years old gloves that I use-- 15 years? So probably have a strong smell. But anyhow we DID manage to end with her VERY happy

However, I still have HUGE despair and doubts about our test. If it is the dehumidifiers and fans, well they aren't leaving as far as I can see, anytime soon... If it's just the heat, then maybe we'll be ok because supposedly it will be cooler.... I don't know but my dog was TRYING very hard, it just was obvious she could NOT smell out there. <sigh>