We had no nosework class this week, so am hoping to get caught up with my tracking reports. We'll be in Canby, Oregon, this weekend for a barn hunt trial (do cross your fingers for us).
This track is from June 9th. I told Nadine I wanted to do something easier, since Gimme struggled with the two prior tracks due to hot and dry conditions. I didn't want to risk having 3 practices in a row where everything was hard. So we decided to lay a track down by the picnic area, while we still can (once school lets out there will be a lot more people in the park). This area is shady and cool, its down by the river, so while the grass is kept very short, it is also moist and green, so Nadine thought it should be easier. The track is 266 yards long, with 4 articles, not counting the sock at the beginning.
While our plan was to have easier conditions, there were some obstacles. At least they are obstacles according to the tracking regulations, such as being close to bushes, crossing over a small bridge, passing close to picnic tables or beside a road. None of this seems to bother Gimme. The brown rectangles are picnic tables, two of them were on cement pads. The light green area is super short and sparse grass. The textured grey shape is a drainage ditch we crossed.
There was another significant unplanned challenge. Right after we laid the track, two people with dogs, walked over basically our whole track (except the very beginning), starting in the green area, they went up the long leg, across the top and then down almost to parking where they cut diagonally across to where they entered our track. They were still there when Gimme and I started and Nadine kept an eye out for them so I could concentrate on Gimme. Before we got to the end of the long leg, another person with a dog came up from the river and crossed the track. I was concerned about how Gimme would deal with this situation, because of her increased reactivity since the seizure. I didn't need to worry; she only briefly checked out their scent and then got back to work. This is wonderful news, since its entirely likely we could run into unintended dog distractions at a real trial. I am blessed by how much she really loves to work - since other animal smells, dogs, varmints and big game, can be a huge issue for many dogs.
Another challenge was these same people picked up the article on the very top of the diagram, near the picnic table on the cement pad. We saw them and Nadine yelled to them, asking them to drop it, so it ended up about eight feet off the track over by the other picnic table. Interestingly, Gimme spent extra time sniffing where it had been, so she knew something was supposed to be. She had no trouble finding it so far off the track, despite the fact there was a stranger's smell laid over Nadine's.
And lastly, Gimme got really distracted at the top corner and her behavior was really different. All the sudden she just could not focus. I let her go off the track and tried to figure out what was going on, when she stopped to poop (blue asterisk) . As I've noticed in other situations, multi-tasking is a real challenge for her now, as it proved to be in this instance. The good news was, as soon as she took care of "business", she went right back to work and it was right after this where she noticed the missing article and solved the puzzle of it's relocation.
She really loves this tracking stuff. If the time ever comes for me to train another dog for tracking, I know I'm going to immediately realize how incredibly spoiled I am. Gimme is so smart and has a huge amount of natural talent for this game. The things we set up to challenge her are normally not an issue. She loves a puzzle and gets right to it when she finds one. What's not to like about innate brilliance, eh?