I am behind - I know! But I am still smiling as I go back to June 12. I was in Burlington, Vermont, heading for the campus of the University of Vermont. It was about 6 pm & I had Hokey with me. We were going to the draw for the VST (Variable Surface Tracker) test - the toughest competition within AKC.
What happened is here below: I will try to go over the track to give you all as much info as possible. I have one copy of the map (from Mike) & the writing is atrocious plus my mind blanked out a bit but I will try :)))
Draw was at 7:45 pm & we had gorgeous huge clematis blossoms with the numbers taped to the bottom. Must be a hybrid as my clematis doesn't look like that! OH, and they had food from 6 pm on - chips, cookies, pizza, fruit, drinks. We got track 3.
Dog 3 - us! Right off the bat there is an error as this says 667 yds & I KNOW it had to be at least 6000 :)). We started at 9 pm, still a little natural light. I did not use my headlamp. The first leg was about 30 yds on grass, then a small dirt path, then grass, then some sort of nonveg (either cement or brickwork, these were interchanged frequently on campus). As we started on our track, a large group of people who had been at some sort of award thing started coming out of the bldg we were headed towards. All walking more or less across our path. Hokey did accost one or two over their bouquets :))) First turn went right on the nonveg area & was fairly short. Then a turn down a double set of stairs (all of this nonveg - cement or brickwork). That may have been my MOT turn.
Hokey started out gangbusters & did this first third of the track in about 5 min. NOT ideal. As I was flying down the stairs I kept thinking that if we were wrong we would quickly be beyond the chance of fixing things. At the bottom of the stairs was article number 1 - a crushed tin can. Major relief!!! This was on nonveg. I could hear the judges & gallery running (literally) after us!
Shortly after the article, a left turn (done on nonveg). We now had a leg with multiple changes of cover - grass, cement, brickwork, paved area, dirt, mulch. Hokey had checked out to the right thoroughly & at one point acted like article search but went back to work.
We were working along a bldg & headed towards a cement patio & another bldg. He was back to trucking all through here. Turned right before the patio - a short leg on grass. Then turned left at the end of the bldg into another multi cover change leg which had the next article midway (on grass). This was a leather glove which worried me as that meant the last article would be plastic. It was now dark & cooler so spotting it might be difficult & less scent due to the temp change.
That leg ended with grass to a road which we crossed & then onto sidewalk up to a bldg & a right turn. He had trouble there, but worked it out. The track then went around the bldg, so now a left turn. This put me in a dark area on all grass.
Now I am VERY worried about the stupid article as I know neither of us will spot it. Still Hokey trucks on, working quite fast (which also worries me)down the hill on grass, crosses a road & onto a sidewalk. I thought I could spot something shiny under a lamp post off to the side on the grass but Hokey was cruising down the middle of the sidewalk. And suddenly there was a plastic cover (like for a dog food can). Hokey sniffed it & before he could even sit the judges & gallery came running up! 30 min total.
Everyone was so excited :))). Two dogs later, my friend with a Bullmastiff also passed. So two out of six. She also does not have a TDX yet, so no CTs.
The night ended at 1:30 am. We got a large rosette, a photo frame, a cute notepad made up by the club - "things to keep track of" & a big toy. Plus a basil plant.
Hokey got roast beef back at the car after his track. Then there was an all night McDonald's right by the Motel 6 so at 1:30 am he got a double cheeseburger. We are having steak tonight :)))
For those who may not know – Hokey was diagnosed with a very aggressive lymphoma last September. He is currently about 9 weeks post chemo so this victory was even sweeter! Hokey is now officially Sensation Coyote Heart Dance CD VST HSAsd RAE AX AXJXF & lots of other rally & agility titles. Deb E, still grinning :))) PS Both Lisa (with Bullmastiff who passed) & I were entered at SOTC in obed - we decided we were very glad we went tracking instead! PPS The photo was taken on June 19th at a tracking clinic that both judge Mike Clemens & I were at. it wasn't ideal for photography at 1:30 am!
Hokey and I have been working hard at tracking. Actually HE works hard - I try not to get in the way!
For tracking, the dog follows a path walked by another person anywhere from 12 to 5 hrs earlier. Along the way, they leave a couple of items which your dog must find. Dogs love the sport as they are in control - after all, they have the great noses! They work on a long line (up to 40 ft) and we humans simply follow behind.
All of our dogs love tracking. Dani, my older Terv, has her Champion Tracker title as does my daughter Kate's older Corgi. while they did their top tracking as older dogs, puppies and young dogs love to track too as it is a natural behavior.
Hokey is working towards passing his VST or Variable Surface Tracking title. He has to work on nonvegetated surfaces (so blacktop, pavement, cement, etc) as well as grass and often in and around buildings. This is difficult and so far only about 220 dogs ever have passed this test in AKC.
Last weekend we were at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass but had no luck. Hokey started strong but got muddled up partway through. I do have to wonder if his snuffling at the broken vodka bottle along the way was a factor :).
This coming weekend we will be at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT. This was a fun test last year even though it rained and I had no passes. Lovely campus.
The photo, taken by Ed Presnall, shows Hokey working at a training camp on the SUNY Geneseo campus in upstate, NY.
From Hokey: Man, I LOVE to track! Sniffing is fun & when you find articles, Deb gives me great treats in training! I love to eat too! I don't understand why I have not passed yet - I guess I get distracted or something. I hope I am a BIG star this weekend & then I can get steak treats for a WHOLE Week!!!