Somehow, my husband and I had the same day off. Somehow, I managed to talk him into laying a track for me (with a stern warning to NOT get “inventive”). At 8:45 am it is alternating between light rain and mist, the sky is cloudy, there is a very light breeze coming from the West and it is 54 degrees F
I give Rob and outline on paper AND verbal instructions of the aproximate shape and location of the track I want. Because he will not be avail to walk the track with us as we run it later, I give him some of our new little flags to mark the corners. I figure better to know where they are and risk Bea’s facination with the flags, then to not know if she’s wrong or not.
We are back in the two fields we used in the “sunset” track but this time we start in the left field instead of the right. Because we are both going to be pressed for time, I lay the crosstrack while Rob lays the real track. This means both will be the same age, but it can’t be helped today.
At Noon Bea and are back and ready to get started. Today after harnessing up at the truck I have her sit next to it and I pat her and chat with her trying to calm some of her overexcitement. Bea just loves to track and while that’s great, there is such a thing as too much excitement. We get to the start flag and I approach it so the track goes right. My path where I walked past the flag on my way to start the crosstrack is within a couple feet of it to the left and straight ahead. Show Bea the start article and get her going. First she takes a couple mouthfuls of grass straight ahead but when I repeat “Bea! Find it” she turns right and starts right out on the track strongly. <good sign> The LONG track leg heads East up a moderately steep incline. Most of the field is ankle high grass, but there are a few areas of midcalf high grass of a different type. As we come into the first large area of this “other” grass there are deer trails and beds EVERYWHERE. Rob had also paused here looking at this when laying the track. Bea mills around here for what seems like forever but isn’t. First she is checking right and pulls me a couple steps off the track but is obviously not tracking and keeps milling about, then she goes sort of forward a bit and then mills left. FINALLY she gets back on the track. It was obvious she knew where it was but was on a “side trip”. She tracks well out of this area and through some shorter grass, then into some more of “that” grass and she mills briefly again but closer to the track and gets right going, then a little further on in another patch she acts like there’s a mouse but then tracks right out onto the shorter grass and passes over my crosstrack without a blink (I’m so boring ya know?!). The track then goes into some very tall grass, some of which is laid over and it is riddled with deer trails. Dear Rob (the hunter) has decided that it is wise/easiest to follow the deer through here. Nice. Anyhow, several feet into this there is the corner flag. Bea passes the flag by a couple steps. Halts, takes 2-4 steps to the left and then goes right on the next leg.
This is supposed to be a straight leg, but it’s not (of course not because it’s on a deer trail). So this leg goes in a sweeping serpentine through this very tall grass and ferns mostly right. It comes up over an earth berm kind of section and turns more right. Bea mills a bit to the left of this briefly, thenstraight a bit and then gets right on the track again. We continue on in a mostly right direction and pass just 2 feet from the abandoned farmhouse. Bea checks the foundation for a second and then continues on as we climb over what’s left of a frost wall of a now missing shed or garage and across the cracked concrete floor. Bea checks quick left and then immediately finds where Rob went into the tall grass again and goes right on the track. We go out onto some shorter grass and there is the article! Boy is Bea happy. After some pats I tell her to “find it” and she heads right out onto the grown over farm road, which right here is the dead end with forest to the left and ahead. Bea checks left into the forest and the very grown up section of road and gets around a thick grape vine. Totally and inescapably stuck. I drop the line and get up to her. There is no untangling without unsnapping. I put Bea in a sitstay and unsnap the line. Goodnes! I bet it took me five minutes to get that undone! I snap it back to her harness and walk back to where I was holding the line. She follows me several feet. Not sure if I should have just re started her from the stuck place or if it’s ok to go back to where I was holding the line… I tell her to “find it” and she immediately gets on the track again and follows it easily between the barn and some old abandoned equipment and culvert pipe. We pass through the last of the woods and Bea checks right just before getting out of the woods, almost gets stuck again but backs up and gets back on track. She breaks out of the woods and quick checks left and right and then follows the track pretty well. The wind is coming down off the mountain to our left at a moderate speed and is blowing the scent down the hill across the track. Bea tracks on the track, slips right, gets back on the track, etc. We get almost to the corner and Bea’s head comes up and she smells something uphill… never good. She drifts uphill to the left and stops to check out something which she licks… she does NOT eat poo so this is a very bad sign EEEWWW! <dry heave> I say “Bea! Leave it, find it” and after a second or two she comes down and gets back to the track. She gets to the corner and checks just a step or two beyond and left but then makes the corner fine.
This is a short leg the passes just 6 feet from a row of round hay bales and just a few feet past these it turns left. Bea gets this corner fine.
This next short leg is not where I intended it to be and it either parallels or worse, runs on top of, my cross track. This seems to have no effect. The leg runs along a few feet in front of the row of hay bales, which are blocking the wind to an extent except it channels between them. Bea is less confident here and slows down to almost a stop. She’s also getting tired. The line gets under her as she checks left and right in a drift of scent and she stops. She’s staring at the flag at the corner a ways ahead. I tell her to “find it” and after a pause she gets the line out from under her and tracks ahead and finds the second article. She flicks it and paws it. II go up and hold it up for our invisible judges and have her lie down to rest a second. I pat her and tell her how good she is and after a minute we get started again. (Had I remembered her water I would have given her some here. I am TERRIBLE at remembering that darn water bottle, poor dog). She tracks right to the next corner circles back in front of me and then picks up the leg of the next track just below where my crosstrack crosses it and off she goes, this time down hill.
We go straight downhill and pass another line of round bales but further away this time, maybe 50 feet and it has no effect. Bea mostly stays right on the track only veering once and I think that might have been an animal or human track but she gets back on the track and stays on top of it to the glove.
Bea has done a great job and after switching the line to her collar we play chase and catch the glove for several minutes as her reward. She is funny though because she knows we take the glove back to the truck and after I take a picture of her lying with the glove she is ready to follow our normal routine. She’s pretty tired but not excessively so. What a good girlie.
When we started running the track it was 3 hours and 15 minutes old. The track was 909 yards in length. The temperature was 57 degrees F, humid with a partly cloudy/partly sunny sky and a moderate wind from the East
The pictures are:
The view from the top of the field
Looking up the field from Bea and the glove. You can see the hay bales and part of the abandoned farm house mentioned above
A tired dog ready to go home