Fred's TD

by Tony Svizeny


Mary Ann and I met Mike Clemens at Lenape's test. We even drove up to New Paltz for training a few times. We all know in our hearts that Fred was ready, but my stomach felt as if it were in my throat. Mary Ann drew track #9, her lucky number, she said. While Fred rested in his crate, flashbacks of herds of deer came to mind!

My track was finally called. I decided that this was it. We would do it at Hudson Valley. I kept thinking I just had to "read" Fred and follow him. It had started to get warm, so I thought I'd better carry Fred to the field. I didn't want him to have any excuses this time, like being too tired or too hot.

I put the harness on Fred. I think I forgot about being nervous because Fred started to work deep right at the first flag. The second flag was a bit shorter than the first, and Fred admired it for a second, then went right back to track. The first turn was a right. Fred looked confident, nose still deep, tail wagging, and pulling me right along. The second turn was a left; Fred was still in good form, and I began to feel confident too. We were approaching a hedgerow in the field, and I knew there would be a turn soon. Fred indicated left to the fourth leg, but his tail went down, his head came up, and then he indicated right - right to the tree line! I thought, not this time Freddie, there will be no tree breaks on this track. But he indicated right again, with his tail still down, pulling me a few steps. I didn't feel comfortable with that indication, but I did feel my stomach return to my throat. Fred kept working on one spot, and I decided to back up a few steps to where he had been "on the track", and in my sternest voice I told him to find it. Then, as if the tracking gods were smiling on us that day, Fred recovered and made the most beautiful left turn I have ever seen in my life.

As we began our fourth leg, Fred looked in good form, and my confidence returned. I felt he was right on as we went up a little hill. At the top of the hill, Fred hooked a left turn, the second most beautiful I've ever seen, to our fifth leg. I thought this must be our last leg. Fred started down the hill, picking up the pace as if he knew it was the last leg too. As if on command, Fred downed, and I nervously dropped the tracking line, walked up to Fred, who was watching me over his shoulder and telling me to hurry up, he had found the glove. As I waved the glove in victory, I could hear Mary Ann scream YES!!!

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