Reba’s TD

by Vicky Brown


The raucous sound of the alarm clock penetrated the fog of sleep. I opened my unwilling eyes and saw 2:30 a.m. on the glowing dial! Then my brain cleared and I remembered it was the day of Reba’s tracking test. The test was in Hyattsville, Maryland. Mapquest said it was approximately a four-hour drive and the draw was at 8 a.m. We also needed stops for breakfast and bathroom. I rolled my unwilling body out of bed and began the morning chores. The kitchen smelled of fresh brewed coffee, which the automatic coffee maker had produced. Edie appeared in the doorway looking as sleepy as I.

We began the morning chores: put the dogs out, bring the dogs in, put the other dogs out, feed the cats, scoop the cat boxes, feed the dogs, put the dogs out, bring the dogs in, put the other dogs out. Eat breakfast, get washed and dressed, pack the van, pack the three dogs were taking, secure the three dogs being left behind with access to the dog door. Finally we are on our way. The trip goes smoothly as there are not too many people on the road at 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. We speed down 95 and take 895 through the Harbor Tunnel. We then turn onto the secondary roads. Thank Heaven for Mapquest, which gives the approximate mileage on each road. Still, I began to get a little nervous when we seem to be driving and driving through the appropriate town with no sign of the park we were looking for. Then it appeared: Rosaryville State Park. It was only a little after 7:00 and we were among the first to arrive. People were exercising their dogs and chatting in nervous groups. Finally the time for the draw arrived. Reba had originally been first alternate and was now the seventh of nine dogs to draw. I drew a playing card from the set held out by the secretary and it was an ace - Track #1! I felt both fear and relief.

We drove to the site of the first track. A pavilion sat on the crest of a hill with parking lots adjoining. Grassy fields surrounding the site and the starting flags were visible to the side of the parking lot. Soon the judges were ready and called for me, pointing out the two flags. Reba and I made our way down to the start area and I fitted her harness and the line with shaking hands. I started her about eight feet back from the flag and let her track up to the start. She started fairly well and then decided to investigate other things - some clumps of grass, a little ditch, the neighboring woods, etc., Oh no, I thought. We have just driven four hours and this darn bitch is not even going to get off the first leg. I began to beg, plead, encourage, threaten, whatever. Finally she began tracking. By this time I was thoroughly unhinged and continued to yammer at her. At one point on the first leg, she stopped and looked back at me as if to say, “What is wrong with you, Mother?” I usually never talk to her on the track and I finally came to my senses and shut and let her do her job.

She indicated loss of track and began casting, finally making a left. After a relatively short leg, she indicated a turn, this time to the right. We continued on to another left turn. This leg seemed awfully long (150 yards) and at one point Reba looked back as if to say, “Where’s my glove? Where’s the tennis ball? Where’s the can of cat food?” Reba, please keep going. It’s going to end soon. Another loss of track, another turn to the left. This must be the last leg. The grass is relatively short. I see something in the distance - the article - no a leaf. We track on - is that the article - Reba tracks over it - another leaf. This has to end soon. This last leg is 105 yards according to the map. Finally Reba stops and looks at something on the ground. Is that the article? Should I run up? Throwing caution to the winds, I run up and there it is - a black cotton work glove. I scream! The gallery explodes with cheers. Reba is now U-CD Reba vom Marinik CDX, NA, NAJ, HS, TD, Can CD!

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