Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cooper Update and Tracking Heaven

Cooper is doing very well following his surgery, and Jennifer really appreciates all the support and encouragement she has received :) Unfortunately, she is now sick with whatever her son had, which is better than being sick with what Cooper had, but still not fun. We all continue to think good thoughts for Cooper and Jennifer.

The title of the Blog today sounds like the place where tracking dogs go when they die but that is not what I mean! I want to share some pictures and experiences from the place I have found that I consider the most perfect tracking situation I have ever had.

I meant to do this yesterday but I forgot the camera. Heidi was glad because she correctly guessed that if I had the camera, I could not have resisted taking pictures of her and her husband as they so nicely laid cross tracks for me. Let me try to explain what that means...

A TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) test involves a LONG track (almost one-half mile) with four articles dropped on it (the dog must find all four) and five to seven turns. It is aged for at least three hours and in two places there are "cross tracks", which means that two people walking four feet apart have intentionally walked across the track about halfway through the aging process. You can understand that this could prove confusing to a dog, as she might want to follow this fresher scent, but doing so fails a dog.

I train alone and so cross tracks are a challenge for me. I have had Galen walk across the track but had not had a formal "test" of real cross tracks and so I bribed Heidi with lunch if she would find a partner and walk across the field; she was nice enough to agree. And so I laid the track at 9, and Heidi and her husband expertly walked across it at 10:30, and then Heidi and I went to lunch while the track continued to age.

At noon I ran the first track -- Cadi's -- and she indicated the first set of cross tracks (which is fine) but got right back to work, and she did not even pause at the second set. Asia ran her track next and she never even slowed down at the cross tracks. I was very happy with both girls, and it has lowered my anxiety about this aspect of the test! I am very grateful to Heidi and Chuck, and can attest to their excellent skills as cross track layers :)

Today was Zoey's day to track, and we went back to Tracking Heaven. Zoey's tracking test is the first level (TD) and involves a shorter track (450 or so yards) with 3 - 5 turns and it has just a start article and one at the end (articles are usually gloves or socks). The track only ages about 30 - 45 minutes. I laid the track and then did obedience with Cadi while it aged.

When I train obedience (or anything), I always include a lot of play so here is Cadi bringing me back a toy I had thrown for her when her heeling was especially lovely :)

This is Cadi also -- even her head looks different without hair! She is VERY out of coat, and needs to grow hair quickly -- got any ideas to help with that??

I carried the camera with me while running Zoey's track -- this is no easy feat as my dogs are fast trackers and the dog needs to have tension on the line. I managed to get some pictures and only one rope burn! Here is Zoey at the start of the track.

This is Zoey making a turn.

Another turn...

Now Zoey has made all four turns and is on the last leg of the track, bearing down on the end.

And Happy Easter to Zoey -- not a basket but a bowl of her dinner was waiting at the end :) I won the tracking line last year at the Specialty and yesterday it came apart while Asia was tracking! I had to just tie it to the harness so it looks pretty sloppy.

After a dog does her track I let her loose and just let her run free for a bit so that the end of a track does not mean getting stuffed immediately back in the crate -- how demotivating is that?! I took some pictures of Zoey while she was enjoying her romp.

Isn't she pretty?

And only 7 months -- I think she is just a really lovely girl :) (but I am not biased or anything!)

Okay, she does have some significant ears...

...but maybe those ears are what helps give Air Zoey that lift!

Easter -- like Spring -- reminds me of renewal, and that out of darkness comes light. I hope your day was right on track -- thanks for your visit :)


  1. Love the tracking pictures!
    OK, I have a silly question. I have only done a little tracking for fun, not to train to compete, so I am very "green" in my tracking knowledge. If you train by yourself and your dogs always practice by following your track, how do they know to follow a stranger's track at a tracking test and not try to find your scent?