Ruffie's TD

by Joanne MacKinnon


BIT O' SKYE'S DIAMOND IN THE RUFF, a Golden Retriever bitch bred and owned by Joanne MacKinnon, earned her TD at the Lenape test. Ruffie is the fourth Bit O' Skye Golden to earn the Tracking Dog title.

Ruffie loves to track and up until Sunday, November 3rd, it was her most favorite thing to do. Anyone who witnessed her certification track would concur that here was a real "gung ho" tracking dog, nose down, never stopping, pulling me down the track, around the corners and to the glove. We felt very fortunate to get in the Lenape test and even though Ruffie would still be "in season" I had every confidence that she would just do it! Well, think again folks. What follows is my recollection of that fateful day.

Because Ruffie was "in season" I was the last to draw for a track and since the club had one field that was totally isolated from the other tracks, the judges decided that this would be Ruffie's track. The one problem with this field, however, was that there was no room to park off of the road. Knowing this I opted to bring Ruffie to the test in our Subaru instead of the big van she was used to riding in. This was a mistake. Ruffie was very uneasy in the crate in the Subaru on the way to the Municipal Building. To compound this error on my part was the fact that we were not allowed to socialize with the other people while we waited for our track. I parked in front of the building and didn't even get Ruffie out. Finally it was time to go to our track and the ride to her field was up and down winding narrow roads and Ruffie was really stressed when we got there. I tried to let her have some time to air and settle down; however, there really wasn't much room and again she couldn't figure out why she couldn't visit with everyone including the judges.

As we approached the starting flag I tried to keep things as normal as I could but I could tell that Ruffie was still stressed. We had a fairly good start and soon she indicated loss of track but instead of her normal business-like search for the next leg she was really distracted, got interested in eating the wonderful treats the deer or some other animal had left. At this point I knew we were in trouble, this was not the way Ruffie normally behaved on a track! She finally made a decision as to the direction of the track and headed right to the hedgerow. She investigated the hedgerow while I stood there waiting patiently realizing we were at another turn. After much searching in all directions she finally picked one and moved out down the next leg.

Things seemed to be going more normally. This proved to be a longer leg and she gained confidence in the track scent as we went along. Then Ruffie started wheezing! This has happened before when we have been tracking and usually she is able to continue tracking without much trouble but not today. She just kept wheezing as she tried to track. At this point she again indicated loss of track but with all the wheezing I really wasn't sure so again I just waited it out until she finally moved out again and headed right to another hedgerow! After much investigation she moved out again and as I looked up I realized we were heading toward the starting flags. I knew we couldn't go very far in this direction or we would be back where we started! However I didn't need to worry since Ruffie really got distracted, ate more stuff, wandered around halfheartedly sniffing the ground and decided she really wanted to visit the judges. She just stood there wagging her tail looking at the judges. At this point I was the one who was stressed. I knew we had to do something soon. The judges were being very patient. I said to myself, we've come this far and we are not going to fail if I can help it! We are a team and it was my turn to do everything I could to get Ruffie tracking again. So I backed up some and Ruffie wandered a little searching for something, the track? deer poop? Then she stood wagging her tail at the judges. Again I backed up all the time pleading with her to just put her nose down and find the track, the glove, the hot dogs, just do something! This went on for some time. I really don't how many times I backed up or really what happened but Ruffie finally put her nose down and seemed to be searching for the track. As she tentatively started out in a new direction I followed as soon as the tracking line was out the necessary 20 feet. She picked up speed and confidence pulling me down the last leg of the track to THE GLOVE! I don't know how, but we did it. Ruffie earned her "T".

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