Friday, May 01, 2009

UDC Report: A New Tracking Title

Now don't get excited; it wasn't that great a performance.

It's the penultimate day of UDC Nationals. The day started well, though, in that we weren't having the thunderstorms originally predicted. We left the hotel parking lot at technical sunrise and drove an hour to a horse farm, where we laid tracks on hayfields. The grass was much longer than I'd been using, and it was thoroughly wet. My pants, shoes, and socks were all squishy soaked by the time I set my flag. (You can blame the USPS for my lack of moisture-appropriate gear.)

The judge didn't let my track age as long as was legal, which is normally appreciated by competitors. I'd been working Laev on older tracks, however, and I worried that the fresh vegetation scent would be too strong to require much focus from her. As it turns out, that wasn't our problem.

No, Laev walked out into that field and lit up. "THERE ARE PREY ANIMALS HERE," she thought. She spent the first few minutes hackled with arousal and quivering, tail up, as I waited for the final aging of the track and the discussions between judge, translator, and assistants. I stroked Laev, trying to calm her and get her more into a tracking frame of mind, and while I got her hackles down and her tail less rigid, I did not succeed in getting her really calm. She hit the initial scentpad like gravel down a chute.

The track was fresh and easy; she could trail along it easily while thinking of other things. She went back and forth across the footsteps regularly. She did manage to corner correctly. The judge said in his critique that I had helped her on the corners with the line, but that's not so; because of my lack of depth perception, I know darned well that I can't correctly identify a corner from more than 30' away, and I won't risk correcting a dog who's probably more correct than my correction. Still, I'm not arguing; I probably was tugging on the line as I tried to keep her at subsonic speed. I was tempted to run along behind her!

Laev left the track by just over a body length on the second leg to pounce on something in the grass. Apparently she was unsuccessful, because after a moment of browsing, she returned to the track without prompting and continued on -- missing the first article entirely due to her detour. She cornered and settled in on the third leg, as if suddenly recalling that we were here to track! She was much more stable then and downed promptly, if crookedly, on the second article. I had to dig it out of the deep grass; she had absolutely been scenting it properly, as it was pretty deep.

Baaaarely a pass, with 70 points. I wouldn't have been surprised if we'd failed; we are capable of much, much better than that. We started back after our critique and promptly flushed a bunny, exciting Laev again. Was another rabbit what had distracted her earlier?

"Judge refused to accept bunny as article," I reported via the power of mobile technology, "but we passed by the skin of our teeth."

"By a hare?" came the text reply.

Yeah, my friends are like that. ;-)

Back to the trial field for BHs. Laev served as the neutral dog for the traffic testing. I watched the WH (watchdog test) for the first time, and I wished I'd registered for it; I think Laev could have done it and had fun. Maybe I'll ask my club to train for it.

So Laev now has a T1 tacked onto her name, though it was a near thing. We'll try to do better next time!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Laev!

I've been reading your blog for a while -- found it from Karen Pryor's pages -- and just stopped by to pass along a picture of what looks to me like a member of one of those very, very vicious dog breeds that Councillor Speedy has been railing against.

Laura said...

I've seen that pic! and I love it. Ye gads, what an awful family, to have such an inherently dangerous dog (vicious by genetics!) with a child. /eye roll/

I love how both of them are just completely relaxed and cool with it. That's dog's been there a while, too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura,
I wanted to congratulate you and Laev on your tracking title. :-)
Way to go!

Meg Flowers (So. Indiana)
Luke, Gitte and Lola