The Day I Got My TD

by Janet Doerer


The day dawned cool and wet, the perfect conditions for tracking. It had been raining off and on for a few days, but the forecast was for early morning showers followed by clearing. I took the dogs out to potty and hopped in the shower thinking, "I sure hope my tracklayer didn't take a shower, 'stinky feet' work best." The time change was last night so even though it was only 8 a.m., it felt like 9 a.m., and I was ready to go. I decided to leave early, and when I arrived at the tracking site, I was very surprised to see most everyone was there already, walking their dogs and hanging out. You could feel the nervousness in the group, but we were all there to support each other. The judges and tracklayers were already out laying the first few tracks.

When everyone got back, it was time for the draw. To keep it fair, they have you draw a number for the track you will be testing on. We had eight tracks set, along with one alternate. For the draw most clubs insert your track number in some type of container or object so you have a token of your efforts for the day. Lenape put the track numbers in a very bright orange pot holder mitten with a very pretty fall picture on the back of it. Sure wish we could use that as the ending glove; you could really see that a mile away. All the mittens were randomly placed in a big cast iron pot to be drawn by the handlers in the order in which they were listed in the catalog. I picked out my mitt, reached down into it, and picked out the paper that had Track #3. I was very happy; I wouldn't have to wait too long.

I had my harness on Chase, and he was ready. It's important that you have a routine, and you do it each time you go out tracking. Our routine is leaving him in the car until we are just about ready. Just before his track, I take him out, let him go potty, and then put his harness on. I keep his collar on and his 6-foot leash attached to his collar. I usually ask the judge if my dog can meet the tracklayer; usually they say OK. Today I walked Chase over to the tracklayer and told him, "this is Carol, you need to find Carol's glove, OK Chase." I let her pet him and I let Chase sniff her. Then off we walked toward the start flag. I stopped about 10 feet from the first flag in a straight line with the two flags. At that point, I attached his long line to his harness, took his leash off, and tied it around my waist. I knelt down and spoke some quiet, comforting words, partly for him but mostly for me. I finished with, "OK, let's go track!"

We followed our routine to a "T", and I could tell he was ready. He pulled me to the start flag where he stopped and laid down. I again told him what a great dog he was. I let him pick up the "stinky sock" in his mouth, remembering that dogs also have scent glands in their mouths, and we were going to need all the scents we could get. I put the sock in my apron and told him, "Go find more." Off we went. As he passed the second flag, he was really moving. I held him back just a little to slow his pace to make sure we didn't miss any turns. After about 65 yards, he turned right with such certainty I knew the track went to the right. Then he went about five yards, stopped, turned around, and made a big circle on the corner. Not to worry, this is one of those things Chase does; he likes to double-check his first corner to be sure he's right. This is where reading your dog is really helpful. I let him do his checking, and when he got back to the track, off he went again. Nose to the ground, he went 50 yards and made a left. No double-checking this time, just an "I'm on it Mom" pull! He headed 100 yards straight toward the end of the field and turned right. No question the track goes this way. We walked another 55 yards to where we were now in the far corner of the field. "Where's the track, Chase?" I'm hoping there's a glove here; there could be, we had three turns. I doubt we went far enough but heck, you can hope you're at the end. He went around and around while I asked, "Where's your glove, Chase? Where's your track?" Ok, time to regroup. I stopped and offered him some water; he didn't want any. I pulled out the "stinky" sock, and I let him smell it again. You always want to take the start article with you for this purpose. I think it really helped. He went around one more time, and then shot off to the right. OK, I think we got it. I'm not hearing any whistle, so off we go.

With his nose back on the ground, we go another 80 yards and take a slight turn to the right. I'm starting to second-guess him. Never second-guess your dog! He seems like he's on it, he's pulling real hard, and I must trust my dog! Sure enough, down this last leg we go another 75 yards, and I think we both saw it at the same time. Yes, that wonderful, beautiful, leather GLOVE! He practically drags me to it, picks it up in his mouth, and then gives me a beautiful down. No doubt about that indication. I ran up to him with tears of joy in my eyes and told him he really is the best and greatest dog, and thanked him so much for a job well done.

I held the glove up over my head and waved it to the gallery, who all cheered in delight. The judges and tracklayer came up and congratulated me and showed me the track on paper. WOW, that's what I just did! Five minutes later, I barely remember anything they said. But luckily Joe came running up with the video camera and continued taping all the congratulations. Only after looking at the video did it all come back to me. It was a great track and we really DID IT!

I want to thank Lenape Tracking Club for putting on a great test. I want to also thank Stephanie Crawford and Jacob Kay for plotting and judging a very nice track. I want to thank Carol Shields for her "stinky feet" and laying such a great track. And last but not least, thank you to my husband Joe for being so supportive in all the things I do with Chase and always being there to tape and congratulate me on all of my accomplishments.

Janet Doerer and U-CDX Alouette's Chase That Dream UDX, OM1, MX, MXJ,VCD2, TD,NAC,HT, used to be TDI


Use your back button to sniff out a new story