Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our Adventure in Houston - Agility & Tracking

Our 2 Qs with 1st Places from Saturday
Saturday was agility in Crosby, TX.  Grace Q'd 2 of 3 runs.  She earned her NFP (Novice FAST Preferred) title and a 2nd Standard leg.  Our first run of the day was JWW  - she herded me through the entire course.  It was a disaster.  I tried to move quicker on the next runs and we were much more of a team.  Video can be seen at the following links:

We dashed off from agility towards the west side of Houston to eat dinner with the Southwest Tracking Association (STA) folks.  After dinner Tracey and I checked into the Red Roof.  Lets suffice it to say that our evening at the Red Roof was the weirdest we have experienced together!

On Sunday morning the tracking test started with four Tracking Dog (TD) tests - Tracey drew the first track for Spirit.  Spirit had tracked great last weekend and with less grass cover, warmer/drier weather, and more wind in Houston she finished her track to earn her TD and her VCD1 title.  This is the 3rd pup out of her litter to earn the VCD1 title.

Grace working her TDX track
It continued to warm up and I drew TDX track 2 for Grace.  The track was in a great area - the cover was sparse but taller than some of the TD tracks which is good since the tracks were aged longer.  Grace got blown off on the second leg for trying to find a route around the edge of the woods (map below).  After help getting back on the track she did okay.   We took a water break in the middle which we both needed.  Both of us were very  hot and tired by the end of the track.  Dogs with experience handlers track in trials for TDX 6 - 9 times before they pass - we have now flunked twice and this is my first tracking dog so I do not count as an experienced handler.  We have LOADS to learn.   Grace's TDX track is shown below:

Grace's TDX Track -
Note her path starting lower left
Take aways:
  • Our next task will be to learn to track straight into the woods! 
  • One bright spot is that her cross-tracks looked very nice - she head checked and kept going.  Many thanks to the folks that have helped train her to ignore the cross-tracks.  
  • Several tracking folks at Houston thought/think I need to make her commit more before I go with her at turns... it is hard because Grace throws herself into crittering just as hard as she does tracking her tracklayer.  I have some ideas to improve our communication and I hope to enlist some help from Kay Watson.