I am not happy.
Today was rainy, but I need the tracking practice, so when a private lesson was canceled, I took the dogs to a school field. It was by then both dark and rainy. The lights from the parking lot lit the field enough that I could see my footprints in the sodden grass, so I used starting flags only and laid two zig-zag tracks to practice corners. That's what both my dogs are having trouble with; Shakespeare worries, and Laev likes to run over them with enthusiastic speed.
Shakespeare went first. He started okay, and then he said the track just vanished. He could NOT find the next leg. I learned, too, that the footprints showed only from a particular angle, and I lost that leg, too. Never did find our second article. I finished with a very frustrated dog, which isn't good.
Laev went next, and she was wired. She dove onto her track and exploded. Within a couple of seconds she had obliterated her first leg by scrabbling over it, trying to drag down it, and I couldn't find the corner myself and I'd laid it. She kept swearing the second leg wasn't there. I was totally stumped.
Fortunately, I'd flagged the articles on her track, so I simply took to the first article and restarted. No real trouble from there, though she was still way too fast and frantic.
So I told my husband via phone that we'd just had the worst tracking session ever and were going to another field for another try. This time, I wasn't going to lose my track in the dark! I flagged every corner and along straigh legs. I flagged articles. I took Shakespeare out and tracked him.
Shakespeare's tracking really worries me. He's never been a fantastic tracker, but he always tries. Now, though, his corners are so very bad that I am seriously wondering if his head injury a few years back might have damaged his sense of smell. (I haven't done any competitive tracking with him since then.) He just seems so confused at corners, even easy ones. He'll check the options 2-3 times, and it's not just methodical, but he really looks worried about it.
But Shakespeare finished his track and I traded dogs. Laev started a bit better this time; I may have discovered a way to slow her frantic start. We'll see if it holds up. She tracked decently 'til the track ran through a mud slog (we'd had about an inch of rain so far, I think) and she REALLY didn't want the track to run through that muck! But it did, and so she did, though not prettily.
She ran over the first article but indicated when I prompted. Then she restarted, cornered, and ran over the second article. I prompted her again, annoyed, and she ignored it. Prompted, ignored. Prompted, Laev dragged past it. I went up to point out the article.
Heck, I couldn't find it, either. There was a flag on either side of the track and one in front, the way I usually mark my endings, but no article. I felt around, but found nothing. I downed her and checked to see if I'd made a mistake, if there were more flags further on, but I found nothing. Laev pulled away, scenting where I"d walked on, but it was just a mess and so I took her back to the car.
I got a flashlight from the emergency kit and went back. Twenty minutes later, I still hadn't found my article.
So I tracked twice, frustrated both dogs, screwed up both dogs, lost two articles, and came home in a foul mood. I can't believe that I've been working so hard on obedience and protection and we're going to fail tracking, losing our chance at a title first thing in the morning.