Degen Earns His TD!

by Dottie Seuter


It is said that everything is easier the second time around but, in retrospect, my being so fortunate as to have had U-CD Tanaquil's Machine Gun Kelly UDTX, Can CD, BH, FH, TT for my first tracking partner probably gave me an unrealistic estimation of my own training abilities!

When Degen arrived, I had fantasies that he would be ready for his TD by the time he was six months old. He may well have been if I had concentrated solely on tracking but, being what I deem to be a renaissance woman (others might call me a dabbler), I was also working in obedience, sheepherding et al - plus I was still actively competing with Kelly! It wasn't until the morning I found myself driving east on the New England Turnpike intending to work sheep (when I was supposed to be going west on Route 80 for an obedience lesson) that I finally realized I had to concentrate on one thing at a time!

In any event, I began to work diligently on his tracking skills, and I found that although Degen was extremely serious about it, I had to be careful to introduce new concepts and problems in small increments (i.e., make haste slowly!) I have to admit that there were times when I was very frustrated and impatient with him but once I finally accepted that his learning pattern was not the same as Kelly's, I realized that he rarely made the same mistake twice. By late last fall I felt confident that he was ready to be certified. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. Degen pulled a hamstring trying to climb a tree to catch a squirrel, my husband broke his ankle, which kept me pretty busy with non-dog activities, and the ice and snow arrived.

Towards the end of March, Michael Clemens laid a certification track for me, and lo and behold, Degen tracked like Secretariat. I couldn't wait to get to the glove because he was pulling like a freight train the entire track, and I was afraid I would collapse in a heap! That day was a turning point, and every time we tracked thereafter, he was happy, confident and accurate. I should have realized it couldn't be that easy!

The week prior to HVTC's Test was a disaster. My puppy bitch came into season, and Degen stopped eating and turned into a drooling, whimpering, howling fool! Naturally, tracking was the furthest thing from his mind! Then, on Friday morning both he and Kelly were in their crates in the back of my parked wagon when it was hit by a tractor trailer which sheered off most of the driver's side. It missed Degen by about two inches and miraculously, although he was covered in shattered glass and was shaking from head to tail, he hadn't suffered any serious physical injuries. I was ready to pull him from the test, but by Saturday night he seemed almost normal so I decided to give it a go.

The track itself was almost anti-climactic! Although it was windy and he was a little distracted when he started, except for the second turn (he started going to the right, correctly, wasn't sure and checked left and then got back to work) he breezed through and found the glove easily.

I know that in working with Degen I have learned as much as he has (maybe more) and the best part is that in spite of all the mistakes that I made initially, we have forged a really strong partnership - I am so proud of you Ingo Degen von Fernheim CD, TD, Can CD, BH, TC, CGC!

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