We went to our first TDX test. It was raining. What's new about that? It always rains when I have something to do it seemsâ€¦â€¦.
This was a test put on by the Tracking Club Of Vermont and was held in quiet Danby, Vt which is on the NY side of Mount Okemo. The grounds were very nice. But by the time I got there it was POURINGâ€¦ Sounds like our TD test doesn't it??
The attached photos were taken by Joan Bradley, and she has kindly given me permission to use them. They may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission!
This was a six dog test, and sadly no one passed, not even us.
Dog's #1 a Springer and #2 a Labrador, never got off the start
Dog 3 a German Shepherd, got off fine and missed the first turn never to recover the track
Dog 4 a Golden, owned by a tracking judge made it 1/2 way before (and picked up his first article) the freshly manured field and short grass got the better of him (this is my view I did not ask his owner) and he failed to make the 3rd turn.
Dog 6 an Australian Shepherd, got off well but was having trouble with wanting to go swimming in the river and then followed the cross track
We were dog #5
We did not pass because "I" failed my dog. We got whistled for over-handling. My girl on the other hand is the smartest, and greatest dog ever.
The following is my recollection of this track several days later with the map in hand. I may edit this after getting the video in the mail to correct any errors in my memory!
The track was 898 yards long and 3 hours old.
The track started in a long narrow field on the left side of a dirt road and it bordered a swamp. Oh yeah, and there was a Canada Goose standing ON the first corner.
Bea was eager to go and the rain had eased to sprinkles. Her start article was a hat and she checked it out and waited while I pocketed it. Then she checked out the area around the flag well. She checked in all directions and I wondered if we too would have start flag troubles, but she set off slowly and carefully. She kept starting and stopping and checking. The cover was short grass, moss and some stiff dead something plants. The goose leaves and Bea never pays it a bit of attention. We get to the first corner and Bea checks beyond it, to the right, behind me, then to the left. She starts out left and I follow but she stops and comes back again. Searches some more. I am holding it together well. I look at the swamp, the sky, the trees, listen to the birds. I do NOT stare at my dog. FINALLY she commits to a right corner and gets going.
She keeps stopping and checking left and right and I'm assuming there's a cross track but that later turns out not to be the case. I'm guessing it was goose scent she was checking. We make it to the end of the field and ahead is thick brush, a rock pile and woods. Bea excitedly rushes to it but nope the track does not go there so she looks some more and finds the right turn onto leg 3.
This leg runs along the edge of the field with the woods to the left, which Bea keeps checking in the hopes that the track goes there but it does not. (she likes the woods). We approach the road and again Bea checks the woods as there is another rock pile but nope. She checks up and down the road for what seems an eternity as I watch for traffic and try hard NOT to stare at the dog. I must be calm. She checks out a sign and post lying flat on the grass. Finally Bea crosses and searches the other side briefly before committing strongly ahead. A short ways into the field (which has better grass covering) we find a balled up sock, next to a line of white plastic covered round hay bales. Her first article! YES! This leg continues on a short bit and then turns right. Bea has less trouble with this turn and we get onto leg 4.
Leg 4 is straight in the middle of the field and she's barreling along (and right past the first set of cross tracks without any notice) and then poof! Loses scent. Tugs straight out (what the map says is directly for the cross track layers path) and loses. She circles. Tugs back out (towards the cross track again says the map) then nothing. Searches. Nothing.I pull out the sock for a re-scent. I back up a few steps and she circles. She back tracks our path the length of the line and I hold my ground. She then seeks to the sides and finds the left turn and onto leg 5 we go.
This leg seems easier and she has more speed. It heads straight for the end of the field which is lined with large round hay bales covered in white plastic. Almost to the bales Bea indicates scent loss. She checks out the bales and then finds the leg. A right turn and onto leg 6!
Leg 6 runs along the line of hay bales, and Bea is doing well and then her head perks up and I see it. The second article, AND it is a blue suede type material eyeglass case, about the same color as Bea's favorite blue suede leather squares. Oh happy day! She leaps onto it and is oh so happy and oops! Rips it in half!!!! It's now 58 degrees according to my clock/temp gage and she is starting to pant. I had not brought water because it was cool. I wish I had. We start off again and now there is a wide, deep and fast brook/ small river on the other side of the brush that is behind the hay bales and it is sucking the scent that way. Bea keeps checking between bales and wants to go through the brush to see if the track goes through the brook but since I'd almost need to swim to cross it (and thus the track definitely did NOT go that way) I said no. She then indicates scent loss and starts to search. She gives a ½ indication straight, the same indication towards the brook, then circles.I back up a few steps and she circles. She finds a mouse hole and tenses on point and jumps on it and digs. Eek! I think oh gosh Bea, don't lose focus. I tell her to leave it and give her the sock to refocus on the scent. I knew the track had to turn right soon because the field was narrowing and we could not possibly run the whole wavy edge could we? Thus begins the departure of my brain. I KNOW we are nearly at the end. I do not want to fail this close, and since she had indicated scent loss (scent was continuing to get sucked to the brook/river, the bushes edging it and between round bales of hay) and Bea was getting tired of looking and started to stop and just stand there (if the dog stops working you get whistled) I backed up to keep her moving. I start telling her to find it, I sound stressed. Bea starts to look stressed because I sound stressed. <sigh> She circles, nothing. I back up a bunch more and she circles, nothing and I back up more and got us whistled.
In reality had we drifted ahead like I normally do before backing up (and like I did at the start of the track at corner #1) just 10 more feet FORWARD from where she lost scent, I would have seen the open right turn even if Bea had not. It was the ONLY portion of the track visible because it had the longest grass!
We were about 100 yards from being the only team to pass and I messed us up. The judge got us back on track and Bea found her glove. I was so disappointed in MYSELF that I burst into tears once back at the Santa Fe. I felt so bad that I had failed my dog in such a stupid way and so close to victoryâ€¦
The club was IMMENSELY supportive of us. Bea herself got VERY high marks for tracking, working and even entertainment due to her article enthusiasm! One club member whose name I don't know, even gave us the Rottweiler writing paper she won in a raffle. While It does not make up for my stupidity it was nice. THANK YOU
Hopefully I will remember today's lesson if we ever get into another track. I NEVER want to fail my dog like this again. She worked so very hard, she solved all the bad messed up scent from the rain and difficult vegetation and I do something I would never normally do. I am very sorry Bea