A tracking test begins with a "draw" at an appointed time -- it is at this that entrants draw for tracks. If one misses the draw, then your dog misses her chance to track -- this happened to me once due to a misunderstanding on the part of the Tracking Test Secretary at a Specialty, and Abra lost a chance to run a TDX track.
As a result, I am super paranoid about draws and this morning's was complicated by the time change and the different time zone. After thinking about it for at least a few hours, I was able to correctly figure out what time it really was in the Pacific Time Zone following that whole "Spring Forward" thing -- the exact same time as Mountain Time without any springing forward.
Regardless, I was still too worried to sleep and finally gave up and left the motel to drive closer to the draw site. The draw was at 8 and at 5:25 I was in a McDonald's parking lot 14 miles away -- about as close as I could get. McDonald's was closed so I walked dogs until 6 and then went in to hang out for a while -- I figured I could be an hour early for the draw but anything more suggested obsessiveness (okay, admitted obsessiveness).
In order to make sure I knew where I was going, I made friends with three older men who clearly had a McDonald's 6 a.m. Breakfast Club. I overheard them discussing whether the onions were in yet, and so I decided they would know the area since they were farmers -- I was so right. They were quite interested in tracking and Bernese Mountain Dogs, and were able to assure me that I was 15 minutes away from the draw site and could not possibly get lost on the way.
I left McDonald's with the good wishes of my new farmer friends and headed to the draw site, arriving 56 minutes early -- and I was not even the first one there (I was second :). The sunrise turned the sky pink -- it was lovely. I felt blessed to be there and knew it did not matter what else happened today -- I am a lucky, lucky woman.
People started arriving in earnest about 7:30 -- I love tracking people!!! Although I did not know most of them, I felt right at home, as if I was with "my people" :)
They had cute bookmarks for the TD draw -- I drew the one with a #2, indicating Syd would run the second TD track; I drew the third and last TDX track for Asia -- last means later (and warmer), and that is not so great.
We headed down the road to the tracking "base camp" -- they had an RV and wonderful hospitality stuff set up. And soon it was Syd's turn -- we drove to where her track started, and I got the okay to get going. Here is a look over the area where her track started...
I got Syd out and managed to put on her harness as Syd wiggled and wagged excitedly -- the same harness worn by her mom, grandma, and great-grandma. We headed to the orange start flag and she was off -- 455 yards and seven minutes later our Sydney had found this:
...and earned her first AKC title -- Tracking Dog :)
At 11:30 it was finally Asia's turn, and here is where her track was:
Although she did not pass, I could not be any prouder of that dog -- she was superb. She found all articles, ignored the cross tracks entirely, tracked quickly and efficiently, and then on the last turn -- both of us worn out and hot -- we kind of fell apart as a team and missed the last turn. We got the whistle and then they just pointed us in the right direction and she finished the track -- we were less than 100 yards from the final glove, which she found easily.
This was by far the closest I have come to a TDX and yes, I was so sad that we were so close -- but so happy that we were so close. The judges and spectators were so complimentary and encouraging, and Asia didn't know that we did not really get the title because we celebrated as if she did :) She is a stunningly good working dog -- so willing to do whatever I ask with such heart and I just LOVE her. There is no weakness in her training that needs work -- we are definitely doing the right things and she will get that title one of these times.
We stayed for awards and lunch...
...and then started the six hour drive home.
And so it is done -- Sydney now has the same last name (T.D.) as the rest of the family and can stop worrying that she is adopted, and Asia and I will keep doing what we are doing, and get better as a team so we can pass the TDX the next time.
The streak of TD's is intact -- seven in a row with no failures. This is a lot of pressure but I have no upcoming dog at this time so I can rest on my laurels for a while :) Sydney represents a fourth generation of my TD dogs, and getting her TD made me think of the other six. Each one is a clear memory for me -- all separate events and yet somehow, they all merge in this fourth generation...
Thank you for your good thoughts and encouragement -- it means a lot to me. I hope your weekend was also a success, or that you can view it that way no matter how it went.
ADDITION! I mentioned on the berner-l that I attribute some good amount of success to the Lucky Hanukkah socks I wore -- I also wore those socks when Zoey got her TD and for some fall draft titles. No, I am not Jewish but my daughter lives near a sock store and so I have socks for all holidays :) Pat Long noted that there was no photo of those socks so here they are -- complete with lucky tracking dirt and the glove Syd found that is now signed by the judges and tracklayer.