by Cindy Grodkiewicz


I have this great Griffon Pup who is my best friend, but we needed to do something together. The Lenape Tracking Club was having a TED in the Spring of 2011, and I decided that would be our "something" together to do. Boy did we get hooked. We had a wonderful time and the people were very informative, but I soon realized that we had a lot of training to do. We didn't even have the "come" command down among all the other things.

I signed up for certification in October. Leala was ready; I, on the other hand, was not. You have heard it before, the lead getting tangled around the handler’s legs - that was me. Leala waited patiently while I, trying to hide the embarrassment on my face, untangled myself and on we went to be certified.

Now we really had to start practicing. My lead handling needed much to be improved upon, and Leala had to slow down. We went out in all sorts of weather: rain, wind, cold and the occasional sun, and I felt like I had perpetual wet feet, but Leala on the other hand couldn't get enough. When we were finished practicing she would give me that look, "can we do it again?" I, on the other hand, was ready for a hot shower and a warm tea!

We got into the November 6th TD, and of all mornings we woke up to a heavy frost at 5:30. Leala knew that something was going on because why else would her Mom get up that early if it didn't have something to do with her? I was the nervous one and couldn't eat my breakfast. I was worried about all that frost on the ground. We only got to practice in the snow in October, you remember, trees down and power outages, so with nothing else to do so we went tracking.

On the drive there Leala was curled up in her usual spot in the back, very relaxed and taking a nap. I was up front trying to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. I had the dog, lead, harness, water, dog food, coffee and tranquilizer – oh, that’s what I forgot. Upon our arrival the first four dogs had to drive over to where the tracks were laid, and we were one of the four. While the other dogs were taking their turns I sat in the back of my SUV with Leala's head on my shoulder telling her what the other dogs were doing and trying to give her pointers. Yes, my Leala does understand English when she wants too. As I tried to keep myself calm, we watched the first three dogs do their best, but none of them could make it to the end. This was not looking good, and now it was our turn. By this time the sun had finally burned off all the frost and it was our turn, and I just knew we would not be joining the first three dogs at the next TD test. We were going to make it to the end!

Leala picked up the scent before getting to the start flag with the article, and I took this as a good sign. She was ready to get the job done. We both took a deep breath and were off. We went through some tall grass with wet swampy ground, and my waterproof boots sure paid off, as my feet stayed dry. After that, I was the dope at the end of the rope. All I kept thinking was, "I trust my dog.” We still hadn't heard a whistle, so I knew we must be on the right path. Leala reached her first turn, she did her normal circle around me and off she went for a left turn and still no whistle. We then moved into some shorter grass that again became tall, and Leala lifted up her head and realized, "oh that airplane is close to me," but then immediately went right back to work. Off we went to a right turn, no problem, on to another left, still going strong, and then we hit the tricky part. I believe they are called "arched turns." Well we had two of them, one right after the other. By this time I felt like we had been tracking forever (it only took about 10 minutes), but she completed the turns, found the glove and we were done! We were both newbies and it was a great experience!

I want to thank Cindy Everett for her time, wonderful track laying and telling me to believe in my Leala.

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