Rory's TD

by Peg Forte


It was a long road to Rory’s TD. It didn’t even start with Rory. It started with Light-foot’s Texas Two Step (“Tex”) and my inability to hold on to him, as he was a hard puller. Gina DeAlmeida offered to train him. She needed to put a second tracking title on a dog so that she could apply to become an AKC Tracking Judge.

It started out well, but in July, 2014, Tex’s tracking attitude went downhill, and by the middle of August we lost Tex to hemangiosarcoma.

It happened that on one of Tex’s off days Rory had come along for the ride, and I suggested that Gina try him. Rory liked the idea of earning treats on the track and quickly showed promise. After a couple months of training, we rushed him twice to Saylorville, PA, the first time meeting Judge Dawn Martin at 6:30 a.m., to try to certify him ready to track. The second time, after seeing a flock of geese for the first time, he finally completed the track, certified, and was eligible to enter tests.

He was in a couple of tests in the fall of 2014, and we learned that he was distracted by the judges and the gallery, so it was back to the drawing board. We had people come out to be a gallery, to make lots of noise, honk horns, sing, clap, jogging by and other activities. In spring 2015 tests he would get a good start and then stall after the first or second turn. Back to the drawing board again.

Thinking that he was used to tracking one person and in a test on plotting day there are several people on the track, we wondered whether that could be contributing to his lack of success. Back to the drawing board again. Now we gave him experiences working on tracks that had had multiple people walking on it.

Rory was re-certified, entries were sent in for four of the fall TD tests, and we waited to see if we would get into any. Starting out as number three on the waiting list for the Hudson Valley Tracking test on September 27th, Rory gradually moved up as people withdrew, until he was actually in the test.

We met early that morning in Parsippany and drove north, treated to a beautiful dawn with a sky filled with fluffy pink clouds. Noting the fog rising from fields (think damp grass), we arrived for the draw hoping that this would be the day.

Rory’s track started near a road, went up a slope, then he made a left turn and then a right turn, which took him over the hill, at which point I could not see any more of the track. Gina describes what happened next... "The second turn took us onto a leg of the track which was almost 200 yards long and all uphill. Our third turn was an open turn to the right, which took us over the crest of the hill and towards the woods. Knowing there would have to be another turn, I patiently waited for Rory to indicate one. After fussing around at a small depression in the field, he confidently took me on the next leg with an open left turn. This turned out to be the final leg of our quest to the “Holy Grail” of tracking, his glove. He did a wonderful job on his first and last TD test of the 2015 fall season. Rory achieved his TD title a little over one year after we started training. He was confident and determined as he happily completed the challenge."

Gina’s determination made Rory’s TD possible. There are not enough words to express my thanks to her for accomplishing this. I am looking forward to her being able to judge and to certify dogs ready to enter tracking tests.

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