We got up the next morning and found the test site no problem. It was at Mather Regional Park outside of Sacramento. Dottie was dog 12 out of 12, so we were the last to draw a number, which told us which order we ran tracks in. I drew number 8. Not too bad. I would have rather gone sooner to get it out of the way. If you go later, that does not mean your track has aged longer, since they wait until the person in front of you starts before they lay your track.
The tracks were aged around 30 minutes. Very easy for Dottie. They were 440 yards long, which is a quarter of a mile. The cover was dead weeds that had fallen over, so it was like you were walking on thatch rather than the ground. The cover was pretty uniform, although it did turn to dirt only in one section, but Dottie didn't have a problem with that.
The best part was the weather. It was cold and foggy. The damper it is outside, the easier it is for the dogs to sniff out the trail since water holds scent. Actually scent is a lot like fog in that if it is bright and sunny (or windy) the fog/scent evaporates and dissipates or blows away and makes it harder. But the weather was perfect tracking weather, if not perfect waiting weather. I was cold.
The very first dog, a young Newfoundland failed. She had trouble even leaving the start pad and got past the second marker flag and would go no further. But the second dog passed nicely. Everyone else passed with varying degrees of ease except for a young Bloodhound who missed a corner, picked her head up and took her owner for a walk, and he followed.
Exept for 2 goldens, none of the dogs were the same breed. Let's see if I can remember them all. Newfoundland, Bloodhound, German Shepherd, 2 Goldens, Hovawart, Malinois, Portugees Water Dog, Corgi, Rottwieler, an English Cocker Spaniel and the lone Elkound (it was the Elkhound club.)
Here is a picture of all of the passing teams. The dogs looking off to the side are looking at ducks in the pond.
Dottie ran her track with absolutely no problems. Her corners were very tight, not really even any casting. She went nice and slow, as she was trained, as to not make any mistakes. Coming down the last leg, I could see the glove from a long way off, yet Dottie didn't see it until her nose hit it. She was 100% using her nose and not her eyes. We got lots of compliments on her nice and easy pace, her classic tracking body posture, and how easy she is to read. People wanted to know how I slowed her down. C at the SchH club joked that if people ask me that I need to tell them my "seminar rates" and I'll give them all the secrets then! I did give the easy answer that I use lots of corners. It is more than that, but that is a start. The judges said they were worried they were in for a sprint (they follow along behind you) as Dottie drug me, out of control, to the start flag, but - bam!- she hit that scent and slowed right down.
Dottie was so good. I was more nervous on our certification track. She had more trouble on the certification due to the lack of cover, and possible cross track. This time I didn't have to feel nervous because she put her nose down and never made a step wrong.
So, as I raised the glove in the air and the judges blew the "you passed" whistle, Dottie became my first AKC Tracking Dog (TD) AND my first AKC Versatile Companion Dog 1 (VCD1). You get this title if you have the beginning level in each of the "companion" sports. Obedience, Agility, and Tracking. The TD actually covers level 1 and 2, so once she gets her CDX, she'll be a VCCD2.
When I decided to keep Dottie when I was fostering her, I had lots of plans for her. Foremost was agility. So far that hasn't panned out great. I did not think Dottie would be my first VCD and that she would be such a great tracking dog. I didn't see that one coming.
Now that Dottie has successfully passed her TD, I'll put my hopes and dreams for her into writing so it is official. I want Dottie to be the second Champion Tracker (CT) in the history of Malinois in the AKC. There is only one Malinois CT, but I want Dottie to be the second. We'll see. I believe she has the ability, and her clear tracking signals make it that much easier for me to not mess her up. To be a CT you have to pass the TD, the TDX (longer track, aged longer, obstacles, varied cover and more articles) and the Variable Surface Track (VST) which involves a Moment of Truth (MOT) turn on a hard surface such as a parking lot. These usually take place at college campuses instead of out in fields.
But for now, I'll bask in the glow of finishing the TD!
After the tracks were done, the tracklayer and judges signed the glove we found (a tradition, apparently) we got our map of the track and pictures taken, then we hit the road. It was around 2:30. I had to pull over to sleep before too long. I'm not sure how much sleep I actually got, but I didn't feel very refreshed. I got home around 9:30.
|Our track started near the tires and ended up to the left of the middle.|