Quest for the Holy Grail

by Gina DeAlmeida


This weekend quest started out with a long drive up the coast to Waterville, Maine. This was to be our fourth try at finding the elusive "Holy Grail" in the sport of tracking - VST!!

The seven hours of driving brought us up to Maine on Saturday evening, just in time for a late diner at 10 p.m. We checked in at our hotel and settled in for a few hours of rest (five to be exact). We were up at 4 a.m. and out to the trial site for the 4:45 draw. We picked Track 4 – and so the quest began!!!!

After watching the first two dogs fail at their attempts in finding the fourth article, I decided to head back to my boy so we could review our game plan. We both decided that "slow and steady" was the strategy we would follow that day. As we waited for our escort to our track, the sun began to heat up the morning. The cart arrived with both judges yelling to us that dog Number 3 had passed. At that moment their statement to us was, "Now the pressure is on!"

Off we went on our quest.... As we arrived at our track, we started our routine, and tried to put everything else out of our minds other than the quest at hand. The gallery was silent, the judges stayed far away from us, and the flag was the only thing we were focusing on. We were ready for this!!!! Let’s Go!!!!!

Our track started out with a very long first leg (275 yards). That’s always enough to rattle your confidence, thinking that, "It can't be going on this long; I must have missed that first turn. Oh how embarrassing this will be at this level of tracking...."  But right at that moment, Toro took a hard left and crossed over the main road that circled the college. Ah yes, we were on track!!!! Over a crosswalk, up a hill, through some mulch, onto a driveway behind one of the main buildings. He then turned right onto a manicured lawn heading towards a second building. Wait!!! He stopped at a big rock pushing its way out of the lawn... ARTICLE!!!! We took a second to water, rest, have a pep talk, re-scent... We were off again toward the front of this second building; he stepped onto the main walkway and proceeded. He passed two students sitting on a bench (stopping to say "Hello"), headed up the main stairs to the front of the building. He stopped, backed up, and changed his mind, headed back down the steps. Back to the two students (said hello again), back to the main walkway and back to work. He then decided to turn right again and headed down two flights of stairs. Wait!!!! He stopped on the second flight of stairs.... ARTICLE!!!!  As I was giving Toro water, I then noticed that these stairs were on the opposite side of the first building we had passed. We were heading towards the main campus parking lot.

OMG - Possible moment of truth turn!!!! ARG!!  BREATHE, Gina, BREATHE......

As we proceeded down the stairs, we crossed over the main road again and directly into a parking lot the size of two football fields. I quickly scanned the lot for items that I thought might look like an article... I SAW NOTHING!!!!

Toro took me out at least 75 yards into the middle of the lot, he than stopped and looked back at me.


I started adjusting my line a bit...

I looked back.   Judges and gallery were still on the other side of the road....

Were we in the wrong parking lot???

Was Toro changing his mind???

Had we gone to far???

Did we miss a turn at the road???

On no.  There was another lot next to this one....

It was getting HOT…

In my head, I screamed, “Stop over thinking and TRUST YOUR DOG……”

After a few minutes of thought and a little exploring as to proper direction, Toro had made his mind up. He then informed me that the way we needed to go was left. So I followed!  Another 45 yards and there it was…...



TORO jumped up on me and everyone ran out to celebrate with us!!!!  What a feeling!!!

I just want to say that this was a goal we had set the day that I took this “little boy” home from our wonderful breeder, Norma Dikeman. We have worked so very hard to achieve this accomplishment with so many to thank…..

My tracking partners Teryl, Siobhan and Raquel

My club – Lenape Tracking and all the support from our fellow members

My family – for putting up with my crazy traveling around the east coast.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You………. Thank You All

Gina  and Toro

AKC/UKC CH CT Nordikes Nothing But The Best CD, RE, Can/ASCA TDX, AD, BH, TT, HIC, CGC, TDI


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