Tracking is like no other sport. You have to totally trust that your dog is right, especially in a TDX test. Often most or all of the track is invisible. Lyric's track was hard, it was beyond hard, but she stuck with it and 44 minutes later found her last article and earned the right to put Tracking Dog Excellent or TDX after her name.
For a TDX test the track is at least 3 hours and 800-1000 yds long. Multiple obstacles are included such as road crossings, water crossing, down trees etc. anything the judges can find to confuse or change the scent. There must be at least 5- 7 turns throughout the track. In addition, the track has 2 sets of "cross tracks". These are laid by a different person than the track layer and have less age than the main track. The dog must stay on the original scent and not be drawn off to the easier track. The dog has to find and indicate four articles including the start and finish articles.
|Lyric's articles in order from start to finish.|
Tracking trials are unique because there are a limited number of tracks. A random draw is conducted from all entries received by the deadline to see who gets in. Lyric's test offered 5 tracks with 10 entries. Luckily she was one of the 5. Then the day of the test a second draw is done to determine run order. Davis Dog Training Club had Easter socks stuffed with malted milk Easter eggs and a number to determine which track the dog would run.
Luckily she drew an early track as it warms up later in the day and makes tracking harder for the dog/handler team.
|The judge's map of Lyric's track.|
She went out at 10 AM and started easily albeit slowly. The ground was dry with poor vegetation and a 5-10 mile an hour wind. This was probably the worst test conditions I have seen in all the years I have been tracking. Trouble struck after Lyric indicated the second article. She started down the track and then lost the scent. She circled and circled trying to find the track for a good 10-15 minutes. Many dogs would have given up at this point but Lyric prevailed. Once she found the scent she pulled into the harness and started down the track. I thought we were in the clear but trouble quickly struck again. A turn was placed on an area of little vegetation and she overshot the turn and kept going. She crossed a road into the next field but couldn't pick up the scent so came back to me. We backed up and backed up while she looked (or sniffed) for the track and she finally found the turn. Off we went again through fields across roads and everything along the way. She passed both sets of cross tracks with little hesitation, found all the articles and picked them up for me to see-and earned her TDX!
Below is posed picture that demonstrates the sight of Lyric bringing me the last article on the track. What the picture does not convey is the leap of joy I felt in my heart when I saw this on the track. Lyric is such a dependable dog who always comes through when the pressure is on. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful dependable dog on the other end of my tracking lead!
|Bringing in the glove.|
|Lyric loves the glove!|
|Helen and Lyric with the judges and tracklayer.|