New TD

by James W. Fridl


Kodi is owned and trained by and counter surfs with James Fridl. She earned her TD on her first attempt this past May 6 at the Tracking Club of Massachusetts event held in Topsfield, Mass, on the outskirts of Boston.

To my discomfort I drew the fifth and last track from the lottery that morning which added to the tension of the day along with the approaching heat. I was happy not to have received the course with the start flags situated parallel to the river. No doubt my fuzz butted brown waterdog would have insisted on a swim, thus adding to the moment. She’s a magnet and an annoying whiner for the water. When our turn came after watching the success of three out of four participants pass, I felt her excitement as she told me to “hurry let’s go” while doing the Bouncing Bronco Dance as I put on her harness. I walked up to the start where we were greeted by judge Mary Thompson.

I gulped as I viewed the course ahead of us with its steep hills and valleys of which we have never really trained on. This day in May was beautiful, not as hot as it was the previous week with unseasonably high 90+ degrees; instead it was slightly overcast with traces of sun, cool and comfortable, perfect for tracking. With a fair amount of wind to cause concern, however, Kodi’s start at the flag was unlike her usual gallop and sprint, short cut off a few turns (to annoy her handler), direct-to-the-glove routine. This course was full of challenges from the beginning as she walked past the starting flags on top of the first hill with her nose up.

I encouraged her to work and said, “let’s go find the glove” as we went downhill on the first leg. Thinking to myself, “oh no, she’s not concentrating, what’s distracting her so soon?” When she got through this unknown airborne distraction she tracked into a valley just below the start flags. She finally put her nose down to work and found herself in some fragrant ground cover and some dry dead grass that caused her to snort and sniff and work hard to find the track. She paused occasionally to look at me, but all I could do was hope that she’d move onward to the next hill and out of this over scented valley before hearing the whistle which could send us to a long Ferry ride home. I continued, encouraging her to work through this cover and to find the glove. I gave her a loose line, figuring that if she tracks out of this valley then maybe at the approaching hill with its better grass, she’ll get her confidence and stay on track.

After what seemed like an hour, but no more than minutes, Kodi discovered her way through this fragrant cover and started up the hill on the other side of the valley with this first leg being 115 yards long to the first turn at some dandelions. Her tail started doing the happy wag, she looked back at me as if to say, “I got it now Dad - just don’t trip - hold on and enjoy the scenery.” She worked methodically at the first turn, a left that transverses the steep hill, keeping her nose down only to circle and check the scent at the corner to assure herself of the correct direction. Her pace picked up for the next 75 yards and we were off and running with a taut line and a whole lot more confidence. I was now concerned about overshooting the next turn which was fast approaching. The second turn was a right and she quickly rechecked herself and now we were faced with the steepest and the mother of all tracking hills. Together we scaled the 100-yard hill and at the top she located the third turn - a right in the gusty wind and she cornered it nicely. The pace continued to quicken along top of the hill and we were off and running again to a quick left turn at 55 yards next to to some tire tracks on the fourth and final turn. It was now evident with great adrenalin rush (hers and mine) that the grand prize was in reach and waiting for us at the bottom of the hill. Without hesitation she scooped up the old glove in stride, did a big circle and “Roo Rooed” for the judge, tracklayer and gallery. Kodi, who will be 10 on July 18, is unaccustomed to working and climbing on steep hills as we had to do during this 480-yard track. She completed it nonetheless and qualified for her TD in nine minutes. Kodiak enjoys this sport immensely, and will continue to work at the next level.

Use your back button to sniff out a new story