I hadn't been tracking in a while, so of course I made a big challenge for her, right? :) Laid a track that zig-zagged over another dog's track, scented with original track, dog running track, handler, and several people following handler.
The distracting track was typical, multiple straight legs. Mine was almost entirely curved, just a few very short straights, as I'm still using serpentines nearly exclusively to help Laev focus and move more slowly. I made sure to include an article sometime after each crossing, as reinforcement; I placed seven articles in all. In fact, I was concentrating so hard on curving my serpentines unpredictably, marking my track with flags to avoid personal confusion but not give additional indicators to Laev, and placing articles, that I completely forgot to put down any of the food I'd carried while laying the track. So this tough track had no food to help, except for a few steps at the very end before the last article when I suddenly realized what I'd done.
I didn't time the aging, but I wanted it to be close to half an hour; that's when chlorophyll scent is weakest and human scent is strongest, from what I've read. Of course Laev has done crosstracks before -- we track in public parks, of COURSE there are crosstracks on even the first tracks we do! -- but this one was admittedly tougher.
Ran Laev, with people following us. She wanted to be faster, but the curves made her focus on each step and she stayed pretty good. She hesitated slightly and thought through the first crosstrack, but showed little trouble with any others. Downed promptly on all articles but one, and she hit that one when I bumped the line to interrupt her forward movement and told her to check again (blatant helping!). Not sure what happened there.
However, the single 90-degree corner that was totally clean -- no crosstracks, no articles, no known distractions -- was the one that knocked her for a loop. She actually picked her head up and gave me the "I don't get it" look. Obviously there was *something* I didn't know about, but it was astounding to see her breeze over the crosstracks and twisty weaves and then sputter out at a very simple (to me) corner. I put her back on and she found the next leg, but still!
I did not go on to protection; no bitework for Laev right now. I noticed a slight limp in a rear leg this week, and while it's stayed very mild, it hasn't gone away after several days. She and the helper slipped on wet grass last week, and it's possible she tore something then. I'm going to keep an eye on her; I hope it's nothing serious.