Spring Valley’s Pele’ TD

by Bev Olsen


In June of 2005, Claire Gelok brought this beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback youngster, Pele’, to start tracking. I handled him for the first lesson because Clair was taking pictures of her boys. Pele’ took to tracking like a duck to water.

The next time Claire arrived I put down the track and told Claire it was her turn to work her boy. The look on her face was priceless as she told me that she wanted a tracking title on the dog and did not want to hamper his progress. So began Pele’s and my adventures through the summer.

He was a very quick learner. I knew he was ready for certification in September. But being a very young male, he missed a turn and got lost. The tracklayer put us back in the track and I nearly had to run to keep up with him as he finished. So about two weeks later we took a trip up to Wind Gap, PA, and met tracking judge Sue Ammerman. The boy certified with no problem.

We entered Lenape’s TD test .. another bad day for the boy (seems like Lenape is a bad omen for this guy). Well, bottom line on Sunday the 11th, we were #1 alternate in Burlington County Kennel Club’s Tracking Test and with the AKC new rule that the alternate track can be used as a test track, we were able to run for a title on track #8.

Pele’ does not really like wind. All morning there was very little but of course right about the time we were ready to step on the field, the wind kicked up. Now for those of you who know Claire, you will appreciate that she was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, “Oh my why is it windy now, oh my he will be cold, should I put a coat on him, should I get him out now.” I had to look at her and say “NO COAT - and quit being a nervous wreck. You are going to upset my dog!!!!” Well, we got him out of the van , I took him to the start flag and off we went. I knew the way he started it was going to be the day. It was a really cold day and I had mittens on. Halfway through the track, I dropped the line. All I could think was that the dog will be running back to his Mom. I am sure I was quite a picture of there in the field, trying to scoop up the line, keep his feet out of it, and remember where we were going. Once we got through that little scene, he flew to the end of the track, nosed the glove, sat down and looked at me waiting for his breakfast. We headed back to the car and it was all I could do to hang onto this big guy as he was charging across the field to his Mom. Pele’ is a really great dog and it was a pleasure to work him. Thank you Claire for allowing me to be part of this boy’s career.

The rest of the Story

by Claire Gelok

When I asked Bev how old Pele’ should be for tracking training, her answer was something like, “whatever age he is right now.”

Pele’ and Bev met June 24, 2005, at 7:00 a.m. when he was six and a half months old. With favorable Ridgeback weather ahead of us, Bev and I planned our get togethers around conformation shows for Pele’ and agility/rally shows for her. The dozen or so practices for Pele’ and Bev were spread out over the course of the next sixth months, ending in early December, definitely NOT Ridgeback weather!! On December 6 we planned to have a training session, but due to a snowstorm, we rescheduled to the next day, which was Pele’s first birthday. When we left home, the sky was blue, sun was shining, minimal wind, a beautiful winter morning. I remember paying the toll on the GSP and thinking that it seemed rather windy. By the time I followed Bev to the field, I thought I was in another world! When Bev left the van to plot the track, the wind blown snow quickly stole her from view. This is NOT Ridgeback weather!! While Bev defrosted for a few minutes, she said to me, “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see my footprints in the snow.” Folks, let me tell you, the wind was so strong the flag was bent to the ground! Pele’ went off with Bev to the first flag, a huge gust of wind/snow came over the field. I remember hearing Bev yell, “here he comes.” The look on Pele’s face said, “NOT my kind of weather.”

Our homework for the next few days entailed lots of playing with Pele’ in the snow. I’ve gotten more exercise lately than I care to think about, but watching Pele’ designate his glove by “dropping” in the snow diminished my muscle pains.

Murphy’s Law prevailed the morning of the trial. I overslept for starters; ended up leaving home fifteen minutes late. Outside was FIVE degrees, but it was still dark. Pele’ got car sick. He has NEVER gotten car sick before. While cleaning our his crate, I noticed Pele’ was licking his front foot. It was still dark. I would check it out later at the “draw” site.

During the drive, the sun came out, the sky was blue, minimal wind, sound familiar? For the entire test the weather was perfect. Pele’ and Bev had the last track. You guess it. The clouds rolled in and the wind kicked up. NOT Ridgeback weather!! As the words, “Bev, can I put a coat on Pele?” came out of my mouth, I knew exactly what she was going to say, “NO coat, and stop being a nervous wreck. You are going to upset my dog??” She has a way of putting things into perspective.

As I watched Bev and Pele’ head out for the start flag, I remembered the foot issue. Watching his tail wagging with complete joy to be with Bev on the field, it was a fair bet everything was OK with Pele’, even if it wasn’t Ridgeback weather.

Thank you Bev for your knowledge, patient, and most of all your friendship.

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