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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Urban Tracking (27-28-29)

I have three urban tracking reports for you. I have just learned how to download images from GoogleEarth and edit them to show a bird's eye view of our track. This will have multiple advantages. First, I can show the track and how Gimme worked it. Second, I can give Nadine a printout of the area and ask her to mark it showing where the track went.

Third, when I want something very specific I can send her a picture via email showing what I want. My descriptions over the phone never seem to result in the track I envision (especially when we are at Auburn Cinema). I'm reviewing Sil Sander's manuscript for his new book, starting from TD training to a VST. Doing the manuscript review makes me eager to find where we are and then follow the plan he's provided. The book includes a plan for teaching urban to a dog who is already well-skilled at field tracking. Sil is brilliant at breaking things down in a logical flow, with everything you need to teach your dog the skills they need. So with the plan as he's laid it out and the ability to give Nadine a picture of what I want, I'm hoping to move along without any more problems.

Last Friday we met at the Game Farm Park. I asked Nadine to lay pretty much the same track as two weeks before, but to turn the opposite way after the large hard surface crossing, then to come around the other end of the ball park and see if she could get another hard surface crossing.

This track was 1:20 minutes old. The conditions were wet and cool, with minimal breeze. The day before there was a huge thunderstorm  traveling up the I-5 corridor, so the ground was saturated. Nadine went through the edge of a large puddle in the parking area on the last leg. Gimme did a better job with the first hard surface crossing than she had two weeks earlier. She goofed off under the trees, checking for squirrels methinks. She found the transition back to hard surface challenging and resisted, but finally did it. Gimme declined to actually step in the puddle, skirting around the edge and then going straight to the last article.

Thursday of this week we met at Auburn Cinema. I asked Nadine to lay us a 4-corner zigzag and to avoid the curbs where she could, though she could start along a curb. When it comes to large expanses of hard surface, Gimme either shops for anything that "looks" like it could be a treat or article and/or try to find the track along curbs. Both are habits we need to move beyond.

Her track was 1:20 old, damp conditions, cloudy sky. It wasn't what I was aiming for. We spent far too much time near curbs, so when we did have to move out into the open, Gimme wasn't doing very well. I find she does better if we spend most of the track out in the open, so she doesn't start out in curb-dependent mode. As we got closer to the end, there was one turn to the right.  Gimme started to take it, but not very close to where it actually went, so I wasn't ready for her and she got an unintended correction. That was enough for her to decide I didn't want her to go there, making an entire third of the compass off limits. Thus, she'd only try toward the other two-thirds and we were both getting frustrated. I got her moving around me in a circle, searching, but initially she would move only 2 feet from me on the side where she'd gotten the correction. As she moved a little farther from me on the "bad" side, I side-stepped a bit toward her and each time around she moved more strongly toward where the track went. So we finally were able to get going again and she finished nicely, despite a car being right on top of her track. She never hesitated and just curved around the car and continued past it confidently and was rewarded with a nice fat article very soon after. At least it ended very well.

I had to work two accounts today and I decided to lay a short hard surface track at the second store. This is normally our long walk day, but the sky was looking dicey, so on the chance we wouldn't be able to walk, I thought we could do a short track. Even  if we ran it in substantial rain, we could be home and dry 15 minutes after we finished. As luck would have it, the weather held so we did get to walk 4 miles, after we tracked.

I laid a track starting on one of the side areas of the parking lot, passing behind the Safeway and then coming up on the other side, ending in grass. I don't know what I was thinking, since I didn't put out any food drops for her. Bad me.

It was 1:15 old, on wet pavement and grass, with almost no breeze. This is the first time Gimme has followed one of my tracks in a long time. She seemed uncertain about doing it. When she did get going, she was determined to follow scent as it drifted against curbs or buildings. She started out following the curb to our right, which was diverging from the track. When it hit a bump out toward the track, she crossed over and followed alongside of the building, still not on the track. She did get to the curb behind the building where I'd bumped against it and made a 60ยบ left turn. She followed along the curb until she caught the scent of the first article, then turned straight to it. After the article she moved along the building on the other side until she got to the place where the track turned left and onto the grass. She got the next article quickly. She had no issues crossing a 30ft paved circle, back onto grass and then to the final article 15 yards beyond it. 

Between tracking and a four mile walk, Gimme is snoozing contentedly beside me.

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