My friend Kathy and I have been training all season trying to get our young dogs ready for a TD test. To first enter a test a dog has to "certify" that is run a TD type track under a licensed judge. Once they show they can run a track they are approved to enter a tracking test. To earn a TD the dog has to run a 450-500 yard long track between 1/2 hr-2 hrs old and indicate the end article.
Breeze certified the same day Lyric earned her TDX title. Luckily she drew into the first test we entered-Davis Dog Training Club on March 24.
The dog and handler team wait until the track has aged enough and then the team is lead out into the field to their start flags.
Going up to the start line is a little scary. It is just you and your dog and you have to totally trust them to be right. The spectators generally quietly watch from cars as the team starts.
In a TD test there are two directional flags which indicate which way the track begins. After leaving the second directional flag the track can go anywhere. Breeze and I started off well but we got sidetracked by a dead mouse at the first turn. She veered off to investigate and then try to eat it. Luckily she called off and went back to tracking although a little reluctantly. Down the second leg of the track we went and navigated several turns successfully. On the fourth and last turn she indicated loss of track by lifting her head and circling.This is a common tracking behavior and the handler has to just let the dog find and commit to the new track direction. All would have been easy except I saw a trampled path that looked like a freeway to my immediate left but she turned to the right and started going in that direction. I looked again to the left and asked her in my mind BREEZE ARE YOU SURE IT GOES THAT DIRECTION because I am seeing the track the other way. She was in her tracking style so I thought/hoped/prayed she was right and followed her. Fifty five feet later she told me she was right by finding the glove and we passed.
The entire track only took 9 minutes to run. What do I remember most about the track? The sunshine on the fields, the meadow larks singing and watching my dog work doing something she found so enjoyable. I think that is what keeps me tracking.