So I took the dogs to the park today to track. I laid Laev's track first, no articles, and then I laid Shakespeare's track, with three articles. I really want to get Laev onto articles, so I'll start that soon.
While the track is aging, I ask Laev to do a little obedience for me. She's really distracted when I take her from the car -- that's my fault for teaching her we always track here, and I've built a pattern of wanting to go directly to the track instead of playing with me -- but after a few minutes she's doing some simply heeling with me. I put her up, take Shakespeare out for even shorter bursts of heeling, and then we start the track.
He starts down the track at a steady trot, amazing me since I thought he was a little overloaded and stressed with tracking; I guess that's what a week off will do. :-) A little struggle with the first corner, but he finds it eventually, and then we go on to the first article. Good. Continue, corner, second article, good.
I'm petting him at the second article as I glance down the remainder of the track, looking as I always do to make sure we're still on target and I know where my track is prior to sending my dog on. That's when I notice the white park pick-up truck crossing my track leg ahead.
Drat. Oh, well, it's just a big cross-track. He'll have to work through it.
I wait a moment to let the truck get fully out of our way, when I notice it slow and the driver leans out with a reacher to collect a piece of trash and toss it into the back. They'll collecting litter. Oh, no.....
I leave Shakespeare in his down and run after the truck, chasing it down the park. "Excuse me," I pant, "but did you just pick up a black leather wallet?"
There are two guys in the truck. "Yeah. Was that yours?"
I explain that I'm training tracking dogs and that I leave articles for them to find. It of course was not their fault, they weren't to know it wasn't something someone had dropped. They're very apologetic and return the wallet.
"Oh, wait," one remembers. "Were those your flags, too?"
I collect my third article and flags and call my dog. I decide to abandon the final leg of that particular track and I lay a super-short track with the wallet at the end for Shakespeare to indicate and reward him. End of track. :-)
Laev's track was also contaminated, by the truck and by a runner crossing just in front of us as she worked the first leg, but aside from some corner trouble of her own, she did alright. I had to think a little harder about what points I used for my legs, since my flags had been plucked, but the dog kept her nose to the ground the entire time.
Moral of the story: inform the maintenence workers of what you're doing. :-)