First ECS VST and Champion Tracker
April 20, 2003

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"Di" tracking on pavement

CT Tis Royale Godess of the Hunt

by

Aj Knoll


††† CT Tis Royale Godess of the Hunt (Di) is out of CH Daisymeadís Playboy and CH Tis Royale Donít Roc the Juke Box CD JH TD (Allie) born August 17, 1999.† Allie belongs to my daughter Joelyn. When Allie had her puppies my daughter asked me if I wanted one. At the time I had 3 dogs and really did not need another, but Joelyn said she would be perfect for us.††
††† At 10 weeks I brought Di home on a weekend and took her tracking that following Tuesday. Di said this is great and on that first day with 3 short baby tracks she tracked into a parking lot.
††† Tracking was just something Di could do and do well. Like most spaniels, she bonded very quickly to both my husband and me and right away she was the alpha person in the house.† This is not a problem in tracking but as most of you know this is a problem in other activities like hunting, obedience and agility.
††† Di quarters while tracking, as my other spaniels have done, and I find no problem following a dog that does that. She passed her TD on April 16, 2000 and nothing was unusual about the way she passed. She just put her nose down and ran the track in style.
††† Three weeks after her TD I had her running 3-hour-old tracks both TDX and VST style. I did not add anything tricky. I would just add a ditch one session, a road or a sidewalk another. Di did not care just as long as she could track, pull mom along and be in control.
††† We entered our first TDX test in Nov 17 & 18, 2001. We had a wonderful track and got through both cross tracks without a second thought (they never had been a problem). At the third corner, she worked and worked and could not make the turn. I turned to the judges and said I was pulling her off the track because she was getting tired. Di was young and I knew there were more tests I would get in. I just did not want to over work her.
††† Diís mother, Allie and sister, Kiva were also in the test. Although Allie was not really ready I entered her to help fill the test. She did a nice job, but missed the second corner. Her sister Kiva got to the last corner and failed, but all three dogs were great. The third dog I was running that day was one of my labs and she passed.†††
††† The next March of 2002 we entered all three dogs again and Allie got into the test only to fail at the last turn, but what a nice job and how great she looked from the fall before.
††† In the mean time I had entered Di in two VST tests but did not get in either of the tests.† I knew we would get into a test eventually, but when?†††
††† In the fall of 2002 we got into the Mountain States Dog Training Club TDX. In fact all three of the English Cockers got into the test. Again Kiva got to the second to last corner and failed.† Then it was Diís turn.
††† The track start was covered with Yucca. That is not against the rules, but I (I judge all three levels of AKC tracking tests) try to not plot tracks that start in a bad area so the dog at least gets off the starting flag. About 5 yards from the start the track crossed a fishermanís path. On the day we ran, 3 fisherman had walked down the path as we were starting. The track then crossed a bike path, (there are not supposed to be obstacles on the first leg of the track), made a turn to the left and went straight down an embankment.
††† Di crossed the fishermanís path went to the bike path and cut that corner and went down the embankment. Then she turned right and went across a road and the cross tracks to an article.† We had the first article and I thought we were doing very well (little did I know). This leg was long, turned left and then the second set of crosstracks. The track then went up an incline and turned left again and proceeded along a ridge. Di past the cross tracks and went into the swell that parallels the ridge. She worked and worked in the swell and finally she turned right and went into the trees and found an article. At that point I told her that she did not have to pull me I knew she was tired but I thought we were almost there (boy, was I wrong).† She went about 30 more yards and turned left again and paralleled a fence. This was very difficult as the wind would blow the scent into the fence and then out again. She worked so hard. Knowing this was the last leg I let her work until she turned again to the left and now we were at another road. I knew they would never put an obstacle on the last leg and she really did not want to go across the road. So again she worked and worked well but no glove. Finally she crossed the road and about 30 yards later we found the glove. It was a terrible track and I was afraid that she would never track for me again after I had asked her to work so hard.† It could have been a title now worth earning.

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Di earns her TDX title

††† I did not take her tracking again until late January and Di did not track well. Di had always been my better VST dog but she did not want to track. I thought fine we would do a couple of 50 yard starters and leave it at that. I tracked her twice in February and twice in March and entered the VST. I made the draw with both Di and Hexe (my lab).† I had never been able to get either dog into a VST test, so this would be the first test for both dogs.†††
††† I took the dogs out once in April and Di was great. Hexe was terrible so I had decided to pull Hexe out of the test because it was full with 8 alternates. Then Hexe showed promise the week before the test and I decided to keep her in. Good or bad,† I had two dogs to track -† no pressure.†††
††† Hexe drew the first track and failed as she missed an article on the third leg. Di drew track four.

THE TRACK:

††† Our first leg was on the grass in front of three houses (this is an old Calvary base and these are the cadet houses) and made a left turn onto the pavement. The houses are now used for office buildings and the employees feed the squirrels on the grass. So we get to the starting flag and she indicated the article and I said great. Well looking back I am sure the squirrels had come out to see this new way to put food down and left their scent there because all Di did on the first leg was look for critters. She tracked, but it was not pretty. As well as Di tracks this is not like her, so I did not have much hope in her working very long before we would be in trouble.

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††† When we made a left turn onto the pavement she just looked great (I do not know if squirrels like pavement real well). Then we came to another left turn on pavement and this is where so many dogs fail. Di just turned left with no questions. That was fine and we started down a breezeway and there was grass and bushes all along it. Di was back to trying to find the squirrel that came out to play at the first article. She never quit tracking but we had a few side moments.
††† We found our second article in the breezeway and then she made another turn to the right on the cement into a very large grassy area. There was a large building on one side and a 20-foot high Elcar fence out from the building. This created a huge scenting problem. Di worked and worked this area and I thought she might be looking for an article. It was not the usual crittering she does, but it was the searching for track look.
††† Finally she went up close to a parking lot and turned left and went across the road into a field. Now she was really pulling me along and I looked down and saw an article. Just then Di stopped, backed up and inticated the article.† We now had three of the four articles, which meant one more to go. We got to the last turn and what problems Di had and why I do not know, but she worked and worked. The turn went right but she overshot the turn came back worked left and worked. Then "wham" she pulled me right and what a pull! All of a sudden she stopped and I could not see anything but I walked up to her and there in the grass was a piece of plastic.

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Di finding the last VST article

††† This was my first try in a VST with Di, and she really made it look easy.
††† What a thrill!† My daughter lives about 100 miles from the test site and she came down because she had a dream that Di was going to pass the test.† I am glad she did not tell me that until after the test.


Di earns her VST and CT titles

††† It has been a fun road with Di and now we are working on our hunt title and agility title.