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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

TD/TDX Seminar - Day 2

Gimme started the day with a fun track, a progression of the remedial tracks Sil suggested for us last month.  Before the tracks were 3 legs, 2 turn zig-zags and the first leg was blank other than the start flag, sock and directional flag.  For this track Sil added a blank second leg, which gets Gimme accustomed to going a longer distance before she gets the article-reward.  She's done this before, but not since we started the remedial tracks, so its a good plan to reintroduce the idea now with her working so hard to really stay close to the track.  It has the dual purpose of weaning me off reliance on mid-leg flags.  Gimme did a really great job and I was very proud of her.  

The first leg had a start article and flag and a directional flag at 30 yards.  The second leg was blank with no flags.  Legs three, four and five had the article-flag-article-flag combo.  There was an unintended right turn at the last flag on the fourth leg, about 20 degrees (not quite how I drew it).  This is what Sil calls the dog-head shape and with that unintended turn it ended up very Scottie-dog shaped.  The last leg ended with another article and flag.  You can't see many of the flags in the video, but I could see them.

Sil always has us verbalize our goals for the track.  For this one my goals were to have Gimme work close to the track and for me to not step off until she pulls 20' or more of line through my hands.   I'm not waiting 100% of the time, but more often than not.  And when I do step out early, I notice it at the time.  Its important that I get control of this so Gimme doesn't rely on my movement to tell her she is right. 

Gimme started out "goofing off", but with a little encouragement, she got right to work.  I'm sure it was because of her special condition.  It could also have been a bit of distraction from the barking dog nearby.  I didn't notice the barking dog at the time, but its very clear in the video.   I was surprised right away to see her reacting to the furrows caused by farm equipment when the ground is wet.  I really thought this was only something to affect little dogs.  

I used to think her main change of behavior was to bring her head up, but with Sil's coaching I've come to realize she actually curls off the track a bit before her head comes up.  Seeing this improves my timing reading her changes of behavior, so I was able to "own the spot" before I am taken past the corner.  You can see when she commits to a leg, she really gets her head down and puts her shoulders into it.  If you watch on the second corner she starts to pull me off balance a bit when she commits. 

She really did a nice job on the track.  When she hit the unintended turn, she just sailed along on it.  This playing with the glove at the end of the track is something we've just started doing.  In the past she hasn't been interested in chasing it, but showed a little interest at the seminar in April.  Now that she's in season her play drive really goes over the top.  So this weekend she was chasing and retrieving the glove and even tugging with me.  I'm happy to see this, since it'll make the transition at tests easier for her (when I can't have food).  On this track she tugged so hard she pulled off some small pieces of leather from this very old glove.   I'll have to start carrying a sturdier glove out on these tracks so we don't get a reputation for ruining others' stuff.  Truth be told, the dog who ran the track I laid put a sizeable tear in the almost new glove I put at the end. 

This is a very long video - almost 12 minutes.  Its much better quality than we got last month, since Jon is able to keep up.  Day 2 tracking video  I hope you enjoy it.

Sil commented that he could see a lot of progress since the seminar last month.  He said we were doing as well as I report in my blogs (I send the links to him).  He suggested using a starter track to get her brain in gear if she continues fooling around at the beginning.  I'll see how it goes when she's not in season.  He talked about the bend in the fourth leg and noted we could see the same thing in a test.  In fact you could see a bit of "meander" in a test to get over/through an obstacle safely.  Sil says we are nearly ready to get our certification.  My goal is to have it by the end of summer.

After we did this, I laid track for a cross track exercise.  The black U-line is the track and the red M-line is the cross track.  It was just three legs, but it was very complicated to keep everything in order, putting cross track flags at the right places and doing the same with reward articles. I had to keep the flag colors in mind (white for the track, orange for cross tracks), get articles down with the right spacing after each cross track, walk a straight line and not forget where I was in the plan.  It was nearly 800 yards.  

It was a lot of fun to watch this being run and having it go off without a hitch.  Well maybe one little hitch.  It was very hard to see the white corner flag from the start, even though the grass was relatively short and the field very flat.  So I told Louise I had used a giant roll of hay on the far side of another smaller field aligned with a particular fir tree on the horizon for my sight line.  We hadn't even got to the first cross track when we noticed my giant roll of hay was moving!  The farmer chose this exact moment to come in with a tractor and take away my marker.  So much for my ability to select stationary reference markers.

Later in the day I laid a pair of 1-corner, 2 leg tracks for Stella and Heidi.  On Friday Heidi had experienced her first 45 degree corners.  I got to lay her first 90 degree corners.  Gimme successfully navigated corners on her very first track, so I didn't fully appreciate then how especially talented she was (not that I would have been surprised had I understood).  It was neat watching Heidi puzzle through these challenges and emerge victorious. Sil reminded me to allow for more spacing between the two tracks, as well as between the tracks and the ingress/egress path.  There is so much to think about in tracklaying.

Which gets to the other thing we spend so much time learning - how to lay a track.  There is so much more to laying a good track than just walking a straight line.  The tracklayer has to:
  • be able to follow instructions and replicate what is needed
  • have an adequate selection of flags, clippies and articles
  • select stationary reference markers on the horizon 
  • make an accurate map or representation of what she did
  • walk a straight line
  • maintain spacing for entry and exit paths so she doesn't foul the track
  • maintain orientation in the field while doing everything else
  • keep distances consistent and accurate
  • leave articles in the right places
  • leave food drops in the right places
  • place flags or markers correctly
  • know how to deviate if/when it becomes necessary
  • report all deviations
  • be able to walk the path behind the tracking team and know when they are on or off the track
  • do this while you are separated in space from the team so you don't confuse the dog while they are running the track
  • and keep a sense of humor...
These seminar days are very long and jam packed with information.  I found this group to be so much fun, so there was always a lot of laughter and good jokes going around.  Sil has mentors he brings in to help with instructing individuals and to send out with tracklayers to make sure things proceed smoothly.  The mentors he had this year were perfect.  I knew Maureen and Kathleen from last year, Patty was a great addition.

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