I left my house around 4:30 on Saturday because the USDAA trial was going long. Since Dottie was trying to blow by articles last week in training, at the trial I laid a 3 article "track." 5 paces between each article, 1 turn. She did great and indicated each article. I ended up leaving before Dottie's Masters Jumpers run. I still had to unload the car, then re-load it. Once we got on the road, the drive was fine. When I first got on the 5, through Castaic and by Pyramid Lake, there was enough traffic that I couldn't use my cruise control. But as it got later it thinned out. For a while we had fog and rain, but that cleared up pretty quick. The rest of the drive was fine. I made it in pretty much 6 hrs exactly. No stops except right before our motel for gas, since I didn't want to have to gas up before the test the next morning.
I went to bed but slept horribly.
|Where is my spot?|
Nervous and also being in a motel, I'm sure. I got to sleep in until 7 because you don't have to be there until 9:45 to let the tracks age. Better than a TD! I went to church in the
morning, where the priest warned us of the dangers of the flu in church (ie-no shaking hands and stay home if you are sick. I was amused.) On the way back I passed a small park, and laid another article track. 10 paces between each article and again she was good. It boosted my confidence a bit.
Off to the test site. We drew track 2 (out of 4, it was actually a 5 dog test but 2 dogs passed the week before and there was one alternate.)
The GSD went first and it didn't take up the scent at the start. It stood there a while staring off into the distance, and just when I thought the judges would whistle her off for not working, the dog trotted off. Apparently in the correct direction because she jogged after the dog and the judges followed. She made the first turn then we couldn't see her anymore because we weren't even allowed to go past the first car in line and she went down a small hill. Not too long after we heard the whistle than meant she had failed. I think the dog missed a turn and just kept going (as Pie did in her certification.)
So now it was our turn. We drove back to my track and I pottied Dottie and got everything ready. Judges pointed out my flag and off we went, Dottie on her fur saver, attempting to pull me over. She downed at the start and I put the line on her harness. I let her go. I couldn't see the start direction at all. She sniffed and off we went. About 5 paces from the start, as she always does, she checked, then continued going.
Here is a drawing based on what I remember and based on the maps the judges gave me. The stars are the articles, and the yellow is where we came close to failing. The black arrows are the cross tracks, not counting the woman walking her dogs, who I saw, but didn't know if she was on our track or not. Later they told me she was.
Our first item of note was a deepish ravine, with running water in the bottom. A very thin stream, easy for both Dottie and I to step over. Based on the way we were traveling, I guessed the track went in. Dottie followed it down, then hit the water and checked left and right. Nothing. She came back out (I hadn't gone down yet) and she checked left and right along the top. Nothing. She went back down, stopped at the water, sniffed it once, stretched her neck across, must have picked up scent, because then she crossed. I went down, she went up the other side no hesitation, and I followed. Our first obstacle! And our first time crossing running water. I crossed a puddle in a dirt road last week, but it wasn't also in a ditch, so that was a first. Nowhere out here in the dryness to practice that! Soon after that was our first article. It was a little bootie, tan, blending into the grass. She stopped no problem, and pawed at it, like she usually does. I said show me and she laid down. I walked up and she was all excited. I don't know if she was just happy to have an article, or if she really liked the bootie. It was pretty cute. Praise, and off we went again. Corner then cross track (I didn't know it). We were headed towards the road. The GSD tracklayer told me that track crossed the road twice. I thought it was our turn. But then Dottie made a perfect 90 degree turn towards the left. Eeek! Did she just fall for a cross track? I put tension on the line and she pulled through it so I went with her. I had no choice. They will fail you for blocking your dog, unless they are casting. She obviously wasn't casting! So I followed behind, convinced we were going to get the whistle any second. But nothing. Then we made another turn and I knew we must be right because they would have already stopped me. So we were still on track.
The above photos are the area where our track was laid .
We had another cross track that I didn't know about then the track went past the bushes and the tracklayer walked over what they called slash. It was like a dead, fallen over bush, or pile of sticks. Dottie
tracked right up to it, then shoved her head under it. Well, she wasn't coming close to fitting under it (maybe a rabbit could go in, but it would have to come out the same way.) Based on that indication (head shoving) I thought she was following the scent under there, and that the track layer probably stepped on top and over. But she then abandoned the scent and started searching. Since the bushes are considered an obstacle, I thought we probably didn't have a turn in the bushes, due to the rule about how far away from obstacles turns have to be. But I wasn't 100% sure since I know tracks can "meander" through woods or bushes. She then turned left and I could see a fence towards our left. I thought the track probably didn't go that way since that is the direction of our start, and with the fence I thought that would be putting us close to another leg. So I stayed put and let her check it out and after around 25 to 30 feet (good thing I have a long line, thanks K!) her head came up and she started searching back. In AKC you do not have to be at the end of your line. I like that because I can hold my ground and give her more line and not commit. Because I thought it didn't go that way, I put tension on the line hoping to question her without getting whistled off and it worked. Tension, but she was still pulling the line through my hands. Her head came up, she turned around and she put her nose back down and she started searching back. Then she went to the right. Same thing. Tension on the line, she eventually came back. So I backed up, hoping she would catch the scent. She crossed over our original track several times without ever picking it up. More circling. The ground was green here, but it wasn't really grass, more like moss or something. I couldn't see any kind of footprints.
Eventually she went back to the left and I let the line play out and then I had to go with her. I still didn't think it was correct based on the fence and her body language. Not steady tracking, head checking back and forth, looking frantic. Sure enough, again she indicated she didn't have it. So I backed up again and this time she committed right and I went with her. Again, she showed me she lost it so I backed up to the original spot. At this point I had left the track twice, only to go back to it after she decided to not commit. I re-scented her but it didn't help. She searched again and again with in 10-20 feet and didn't indicate anything. Doing the circling again and again and again. Then I watered her and re-scented. I thought maybe we passed a turn before the bushes so I backed up further. Now I was almost hanging out with the judges. This time she made a right turn before the bushes and I felt like this could have been a good direction since it was wide open. I went with her but again after maybe me being 5 paces off the track and her 25 feet she started telling me it was not that way. Backed up again to the track. She continued searching and at this point I had forgotten about the original thought that it went straight through the bushes and I was wondering if I should tell the judges we were done, since I know the rules say you keep going until the dog stops working,
and she will search until she is exhausted. She has quit on practice tracks when I know where it goes, and as you know, I recently worked to get her to not quit again. I don't want to enforce quitting, so I thought maybe I should pull her off. I was very, very close to turning around and saying, "We are done." I bet the judges have never had a handler quit before the dog before! I was wondering how much longer I should let her work and what exactly I should say to the judges when finally, she did pick up our original track (that we had both walked all over at this point) and she followed it up to the slash and again stopped. Since she had
checked everywhere else several times, I now knew it must go over this. Her blockage was the scent was under the bush and she couldn't follow it. We've worked going over logs and up and over walls and I've even tracked her on fallen sticks like this, but something about the fact that she could get her head in but no further was causing her the block.
|Where we almost failed.|
So after tracking back up to the bush thing, she kind of hesitated, then went around to the right, and I could see her getting some residual scent. Right after it, maybe 3 paces, she went back to the left and was back on the track. That was all it took, just going around in a forward direction only 3 paces. We almost failed over 3 paces!!
Only a few paces, well, maybe 20 but after that it felt so short, was a pair of balled up black socks, very nicely blending into the cover. I suppose if I had been looking, and I had really good eyes, I could have seen it. I wonder if the judges thought I saw it, or if they could tell how unsure of everything I was. Since that was only our second found article, I figured we had a while to go. But after a left turn, towards the fence, but she clearly indicated it was the correct way, we found our last article! So the distance between the second and third articles was very small.
|Dottie posing with her articles and my nice fanny pack with water.|
|Dottie with just one of her rewards!|
So know you all know exactly how it went. :) My track layer said she has laid a lot of tracks and I was only her second pass. Happy to help her out!
The next 2 dogs failed. I didn't watch them because I was still celebrating with Dottie, then for the last dog I couldn't find my way to the track. One dog made it almost to the end then went off in a random direction and the other dog was somehow confused by a berm and went off the track.
We started at 10:33 and finished at 11:06. It felt very quick except for our time in the bushes which felt like an hour. I did give her a drink on her first article, but because it was moist, I think the FH was physically
harder for her. She looked more tired at the end of her FH. But the TDX was harder for me since I couldn't see the track the whole time and because of the near miss in the bushes. It says it was aged only 3 hrs and was only 810 yards long. Since our TD was over 600 yards with less turns and only 1 article, as I thought the TDX felt much busier and the TD was a really long way to go with only one article. Our longest leg here was 295 yards and the shortest was 50 yards (the last leg was the shortest.)
The other dogs was the GSD, a border collie and a portie.
I don't remember what time I left the test site. We stayed for lunch then the awards. Dottie got a TDX ribbon! The drive home was very easy. About 1 drop of rain, no traffic. Stopped at the rest stop in Coalinga that I slept at on the way home last time- used the rest room and took pictures. Then stopped in Fillmore for gas and we were home!
I am so proud of Dottie- she did such a great job!! Thank you Dottie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
|Sun setting at the rest stop.|
|Fancy being subjected to photo torture at the rest stop.|
|This looks uncomfortable!|
|Pretty sunset on the 5.|
|Clouds over the Grapevine.|
|Driving through the night with the moon watching.|