Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventures in tracking

Legend's class continues to go well.  Sometimes I think it's not going so well but the overall consensus of the instructors is that she's doing great.  So we'll go with that.  Every week I get good feedback with a few tips on what to work on.

 You need a lot of space to track.  Which has led to me inspecting every piece of property we pass for tracking suitability.  Fortunately I have found several empty lots, churches and schools around town that afford enough space as well a a variety of different landscapes.

It also continues to be a huge time commitment.  We are now to the point of aging track.  Which means they need to sit anywhere from zero (pending my available time and daylight) minutes to about an hour.  Eventually more.  This is not a big deal when I track in the neighbors yard.  But for a number of reasons that is not an option every day.  I try to plan it such that I stop somewhere on my way home from work, running, or whatever, lay track, go home, get dog, return to run track.

We are also now to the point of weaning off flags at the turns.  Which is good and bad.  Marking your turn with the flag is super quick and easy.  The downside is that your dog leans to rely on the flags to find the turn.  Also you have to back and pick up your flags later.  Picking them up as you go can be cumbersome, especially if you have, say, a very "active" tracking dog.

So, I love not having to spend time and energy going back after flags.  But, that means making maps.  Which takes more time on the front end than does planting flags.  If you find a field with lots of "stuff" then it's easier because you can just make all your turns at landmarks (trees, rocks, poles, clumps of flowers).  But if you are tracking in a large, open, monotonous area  then you have to make a more detailed map, aka more time consuming.  In fact the only thing not time consuming about tracking, is actually tracking.  At least with Legend.  True to her name she tracks like she does everything else in life, in fast forward.  But we enjoy it.

Other things that happen in track laying is you find out there are parts of the field that have thicker vegetation or rougher terrain than you had anticipated, but it's too late to change your plan.  Also there might be an area that is  not vegetated at all.  Tonight we hit a patch that was mostly mud and rock, which is more difficult to follow a scent on.  But, if I have have any intentions of pursuing TDX or VST training then I might as well start facing these challenges sooner rather than later.  And I think I would like to do this, it's just the thought of the time commitment for those is overwhelming!  I can see now why people must choose between tracking and other sports.  You can spend 5-10 minutes on obedience or agility and have that me meaningful training.  Not so much in tracking.  But, we muddle on.

1 comment:

Sage said...

I wondered whether it would be something Sage would like--I have a friend taking her St. Bernard through beginning tracking. Sounds like it could be rewarding. Hang in there!