Abner Finds the Glove

Mimi Ruch


Abner earned his TD at the Berks County DTC Tracking Test on October 13. I wasn’t sure we were ready for this. I entered Lenape’s certification match hoping for a good learning experience, but not really expecting to be certified. Well, ready or not, we got certified in the steady rain on Peg’s track in Balmer’s lovely field. That meant I had to do something about it, so I got my entries ready and used express mail in the hope we’d make the draw for Berks. We did, but were we really ready? Then I remembered Peg saying, “think positive,” and an article I’d read recently about show-time jitters that suggested keeping a picture of success in your mind.

We drove two hours in the early morning dark to Blue March Lake Recreation Area, just west of Reading, PA. I wanted to make sure we’d be on time for the draw. It was a perfect day for tracking: very little wind, cool, overcast, and damp from thunder showers that had passed through the area at 3 a.m. Coffee and homemade breakfast treats were ready for us. I kept the picture of success in my mind all morning - I’d drawn track #7, the next-to-last track.

Abner fiddles around at the start, but I was determined with my picture of success that we were going to get started before the whistle blew. We did, but not by much. Our track was on a lovely field much like Balmer’s, with medium-long thick grass. The track was straight-forward with all 90° turns, little change in vegetation, and fairly flat. I thought I was going to count turns and paces, but soon forgot how many there were, so we kept going. Abner is hard to read, but I’d finally discovered that he picks his head up very slightly when he’s overshot a turn. That slight change in head position is my signal to stop and wait for him to circle and find the new direction. I kept the picture of success in my mind. We kept on going, finding the turns and getting off in the new direction. Abner walks the track and keeps a steady one-two, one-two rhythm with his tail. We kept on going straight for what seemed like a long time when Abner suddenly dropped into a Labrador-sized groundhog hole. As he hopped back out, I saw it just a few yards ahead. There it was: a large light blue leather glove just waiting for us. The picture of success. We’d done it. This was our first tracking test and our first try.

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