Sunday, November 26, 2017


Harley doesn't have a blog site!!  I've written blog posts about him on my Rescue Blog site, but that was when he was a rescue dog!  Harley is no longer a rescue dog, he is part of our family.  Not only that, while he's still part of the Tri State Weimaraner Rescue family, he's also kind of an adopted part of the Grayhart Weimaraner family -- just ask Linda Hartheimer, Rigby's breeder!  This dog has hit the jackpot, he's got so many people on his side!

Harley enjoying a run in the field.

I've decided I'll put some Harley posts here on Rigby's blog -- I don't think she'll mind, she also loves Harley and they've become partners in crime, in play and sleeping on the couch.

Harley, in his heavier form, sleeping with Rigby!

Harley's blog entries will be in red print, as Rigby's are usually in purple, and perhaps sometimes I'll write about both of them in the same post!

To bring Harley's blog post up to date, he's gone from the fat, 123-pound Weim who came into rescue days before his 3rd birthday, to a much more confident, 80-pound Weim who loves to run, play and track.  He's got a big personality and is full of fun -- he makes us laugh every day.  He loves his family and has settled into the routine of life with Dan and I.  He still needs lots of training and has much to learn, he promises to challenge me along those lines as much as any Weim I've met!

Harley the day we picked him up for Tri State Weimaraner Rescue.

He could have been a table with that wide back!

Harley's new look -- his photos to get his AKC registration.

His registered name is TSWR Harley Sportster.

The one place Harley has not been a real challenge is in his tracking training!  I started tracking Harley in September of 2016, a couple months after he came back to live with us permanently.  He was 3 and a half years old and this was really the most formal training he had ever had during his life.

Harley's first day of tracking, September 2016.

Harley took to tracking almost immediately and progressed forward every week, rarely having a "bad" day out in the fields.  He learned to rest quietly in the crate in the car waiting for his turn to track and socialized with the small group of people and dogs that we met with weekly.

Harley tracking in July of 2017

In September of 2017 Harley passed his certification track, which meant he was eligible to enter a tracking test, and I started looking for the test that I thought would give Harley the best chance for success.  

Harley tracking on his certification track.

Celebrating finding the glove!

I entered him in the Weimaraner Club of Northern Illinois tracking test, knowing that they gave preference to Weims.  He made it into the test and we made the long drive to the Chicago area.  I'm proud to say that on November 12th Harley earned his Tracking Dog title on his first try!

Harley is my first dog to pass his TD on his initial try -- I think that's partly a testament to the fact that my first two tracking dogs taught me a lot, but also Harley deserves credit for being a good tracking dog who doesn't give up.

It took Harley 10 minutes to pass his TD test, and a good portion of that time was spent on the first leg, where we had to work through Harley's fear/nervousness about a bulldozer that started working just a couple hundred yards (if that) from the start of his track.

The TD fields at the WCNI tracking venue.

The fields were at the edge of a campground.

The heavy equipment lined up to begin working.

The beginning of Track 1 -- also a Weimaraner -- who also passed!!

When the draw for tracks is held the morning of the tests, it truly is the luck of the draw that determines the conditions you will track in.  If you draw Track No. 1, you head right out to your track, no waiting for a dog ahead of you, so there's no worry that your track will get old.  If it's a rainy day, the timing of your track and the rain will dictate the weather you track in, it could be a drizzle or a downpour.  It's all up to luck and the tracking gods.

When Harley drew Track No. 2, I didn't worry, it was a wet, cold day and the tracks weren't going to age very quickly, so if the dog on Track No. 1 took some extra time it wouldn't have much of an effect on us.  The first dog started his track right on time, at 7:45 and he finished and found his glove at a nice pace.

We headed down the grass lane to the start of Harley's track, which was timed to be ready at 8:00, the same time the oil field crew was starting their work day -- who would have thought!!

I put on Harley's harness and he headed to the first flag, and off he went down the track, just as usual.  He only made it about 20 yards before the bulldozer started up and began working.  The noise was kind of a shock to both of us, I had been paying attention to Harley and getting ready to track and had not noticed the activity happening just beyond the field we were in.

Harley was quite worried about the bulldozer and the noise, the engine revving and the beeping when backing up.  He'd go out away from me about 22 or 23 feet and I'd be able to take a step or two forward, and then Harley would turn and run back to me, looking for reassurance.  I'd verbally encourage him to go find his track and used the start article to remind him of what he was supposed to be looking for.  We continued in this manner as we slowly inched down the track, trying to get past the second flag, the 30-yard mark of the track.

Then the sirens started.  Not sure what the sirens were about, but they added to Harley's apprehension and my nervousness.  Thankfully, the emergency vehicles traveled away from our location and the noise of the sirens faded away.

I did my best to keep my mind working, thinking of the rules, what I was allowed to do and not allowed to do in this situation.  I was careful not to point to the ground or physically direct Harley in any way, I made sure not to move forward unless Harley was 20 feet in front of me and to use the start article to remind him of the scent.  A restart was out of the question, as it would take us back closer to the noise that was causing us the trouble.

As Harley headed slowly up the first leg of his track and as we put some distance between us and the bulldozer, he started gaining more confidence and then started tracking in his usual manner.  Once he made the first turn, that also took us further from the noise, he was in full tracking mode and was giving me good indications of the track and the turns, pulling nicely on the line.

The only other time Harley gave me a bit of a worry on his track was on the last leg, where he started checking scents to either side of the track and quit heading straight.  Luckily, at that point I could see the glove in the distance, he was only about 20 yards from it.  With encouragement to go find the glove, he got back to work, headed to the glove, picked it up and retrieved it to me.  Talk about a proud moment!

Harley's TD track. First leg 145 yards, right turn and the second leg was 125 yards,
another right turn and the 3rd leg is 60 yards, a left turn and 55 yards,
a right turn and the last leg was 60 yards - 445 total yards.

Harley got steak, cheese and some bacon to celebrate his pass.  He was awarded a pretty green rosette and got his picture taken with the judges and his track layer!  We both thank the WCNI for putting on this tracking test and for supporting tracking!

Back Row:  Judge Inge Suchanek, me and Judge Pam German.
Front Row:  Harley and track layer Theresa Geraci.

Harley's rosette for his TD.

Dreaming of a TDX after passing his TD.


To me, the best part of getting a TD on a dog is that you get to start training for their TDX!!  Training for the different aspects of TDX tracking can be challenging, starts from different angles, tracking in woods and then the change of scents exiting the woods, starting to track again after finding intermediate articles, aging starts and tracks, cross tracks, the list goes on!  I was immediately excited to start Harley's TDX training to see how he would handle all the new aspects of tracking to which he would be introduced!

Our first two weeks of TDX training are in the books and it looks like Harley is going to enjoy learning more about tracking.

The first week he had one intermediate article and a restart and he handled it well.  I found that I can't get too excited or Harley gets over the top, so I'll have to watch that.  The track took him through a couple cuts in the woods, which he handled with no problem.

Week 2, Harley's track was about an hour and a half old and, again, had an intermediate article, which he found and then did his restart very well.  The track went into the piney woods and he entered the woods easily and tracked at a good pace through them, back out and into the fields, no trouble with the scent changes.  The biggest problem I'm seeing right now is that he avoids prickly cover by going around it and then back to the track.  Hopefully he will toughen up over time and stay more directly on his tracks -- Phil says we have a thousand tracks to do, give him some time!

As time goes on, Harley will continue to use Rigby's blog to update his friends and fans on his progress in his tracking and other training!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

2017 Weimaraner National Specialty -- Rigby and I go on an adventure!

It had been 6 years since I attended the Weim Nationals, and this year I decided that I needed a chance to spend time with other Weim people, people who do performance events with their Weims, my kind of people!!

It was rather a last minute decision in comparison to those who plan for months or a year to attend their national events, but it was a good decision!  It was a scary decision, leaving Dan home alone with Harley for a week and knowing that any manner of things could go wrong there, but it was a good decision!  It was a difficult decision, taking a week off of work in a job where I don't earn money if I'm not working, but it was a good decision!

When I saw there was a tracking test, retriever ratings and a field seminar offered at the Nationals I felt I could make this an opportunity to learn and to meet people involved in areas of dog sport in which I have an interest.  Then, of course, there was the obedience and rally trials offered that we could actually participate in -- sounded like a good week to me!

The first thing I did when I decided to attend the Nationals was contact the tracking test chair, Jack Sappenfield, and volunteer to help with the test.  My offer was accepted and I was allowed to be one of the track layers for the TDX tests.  

I wanted to see the retriever ratings and learn more about what was required to achieve these Weimaraner Club of America titles.  When I heard they needed help, I volunteered there, as well.

I mailed off my entries for the field seminar and one day of obedience and rally held by the host club, the Weimaraner Club of Greater St. Louis.

Saturday, June 3rd, I packed everything we'd need for the week into my SUV and Rigby and I headed off to St. Louis!  We had a great trip with wonderful weather, arrived and settled in to our home for the week.

Sunday morning we made our first trip to Gray Summit and Purina Farms!  

The Event Center at Purina Farms

The tracking tests were scheduled to be held on Monday, June 5, so the work of plotting the tracks had to be done the day before, Sunday.  The plan was to meet in the parking lot of the welcome center at 8:00, ready for a day of plotting tracks.  I was happy to see Gretchen Stephenson, one of the judges, and Jill Paige, two Weim people I am acquainted with!  It was also good to see Jack Sappenfield, who I had met at a tracking test a few years earlier.  The other tracking judge was Tony Ginter, from Kentucky, and it was a pleasure to meet and get to know him.

Gretchen speaking with Tony and Jill.

Tony and Jill

The TDX tracks were to be plotted first and Jill was the track layer for track one, which was put in down a hill behind the Welcome Center.  My track was the second track and it started over by a maintenance building and went through a field of high grass and into woods, back out into some fields where it ended.  The third track, the alternate track, was put in by Jack, and it was located further out than my track, in another field with thick, prickly growth.

A photo opportunity at our lunch break on plotting day!

Jack and his prize Poodle!

After a lunch break the TD tracks were plotted.  The track layers for the TD tracks were Diane Vater, from Pennsylvania; Scott Sappenfield, Jack's brother from Florida, and Jack.  These tracks were also put in fields surrounding the Event Center and we used a Gator to transport people to the different fields.

Heading out to plot one of the TD tracks:
 Jack driving, Gretchen in front and Tony in the back.

One of the TD tests went into a field near the event center and you could watch the procession of judges, track layer and flag carriers as they worked to plot the track.

Sunday evening was an enjoyable dinner with Jack, Gretchen, Tony, Jill, Linda Bailey, Mary Ellen Macke and her husband, thanks for a nice time out!

In an effort to avoid the heat and to give the dogs the best chance to pass their tracks, the first TD track was put in at 5:45 a.m. on Monday morning.  The draw was held at the tracking test headquarters in the Welcome Center parking lot at 6:15 a.m., where a small crowd gathered to watch the activities.

These Build A Bear boots with ginger bear treats inside were the draw articles.
 I offered to provide them as they have always been a hit at our local tracking test.

Tony going over some paperwork.

Jill returning from putting in TDX Track 1.

Tony and Gretchen, the judges.

Greg Newton drew TD Track 1.

Anne McPherson drew TD Track 3.

Cari Hall and her GSD (the only non-Weim entered) drew TD Track 2.

They headed out to run the TD tracks and I headed over to put in my TDX track at 6:30 a.m. so it would be ready to run at 9:30 a.m.

There was one TD pass, Greg Newton and his dog Woody.

Then it was time to meet to draw for the TDX tracks.

Jack making announcements and conducting the TDX draw for tracks.
Janet Boggs drew TDX Track 1.

Jane Craig drew TDX Track 2,
 leaving TDX Track 3 as the alternate track for Greg Newton.

Instructions from the judges.

The judges, track layer and first tracking team set off for the first TDX track and moved from track to track. The morning became quite warm and it was challenging tracking for the TDX dogs.  In the end there was one TDX pass, Greg Newton and his dog Farrin.

It was a small group of volunteers working together to put on the tracking tests, but with the usual camaraderie shown by tracking enthusiasts, the tests were a great success.  Many thanks to Jack Sappenfield for taking charge of the tests and not only organizing all the many areas that needed to be covered, but for laying both successful tests, one TD and one TDX.

Tuesday, June 6, it was time for the retriever ratings, so Rigby and I were up early and off to the fields to watch and help a bit.  Once again it was a time to greet friends from the past and make many new acquaintances.

They started with the field retrieves and I helped by shooting a revolver loaded with blanks as a bird was thrown into the field for the dogs to retrieve.  It was fun to watch the action and see the dogs work the field to find the birds.

Bonnie Smith

Greg Newton

Janet Valentovich

Jane Craig

Jeni Roosen showed that sometimes begging does work!

Then it was off to the lake and those who passed the land part of the ratings put their dogs to test in the water.

Gretchen and Tani.

A bit of a splash!

Volt retrieving the bird.

One of the most fun people I met at Nationals this year is Jeni Roosen!  She is full of fun and quite a unique character.  She had some good days, some not so good days and one VERY GOOD day at Nationals, when her girl went BOW and finished her CH.  These following photos give a bit of an insight into what a fun person Jeni is -- don't miss those socks!!

Wearing Superman socks, complete with capes on the back!!

In the afternoon it was the Field Seminar, where Rigby got to hunt birds for the first time.  I learned that my serious girl would rather point birds than play with them and she held a steady point on a bird for 10 minutes.  

It was a fun and educational afternoon!  Many thanks to Diane Vater and Chuck Cooper for giving their time to put on the seminar -- and all their helpers, too!

Everyone who participated in the Field Seminar was given a packet of hunting items as part of the registration.  Here's a photo of the contents -- thanks for the lovely gift!!

Tuesday evening I attended the welcome party hosted by the Weimaraner Club of Greater St. Louis, held in the upstairs of the Event Center.  They had a nice selection of warm appetizers and it was a very enjoyable time visiting with friends and discussing the events that had transpired to that point.  Each attendee was given a luggage tag with the WCA logo, another nice souvenir of the week.
Wednesday was my last day at Nationals, even though the real WCA competition started on Thursday.  I decided that if I was taking a week off I needed to use some of that time to visit my parents in Ohio, and so I only entered obedience and rally on Wednesday, the trial hosted by the Weimaraner Club of Greater St. Louis.

Since Rigby was not ready to show in Grad. Novice or Open, we entered Novice B, even though she already has her title.  In rally we entered Advanced Rally B, a new venture for us, as she only has her Novice Rally title.

I was satisfied with our showing, getting a second place in Novice B obedience and a third in Advanced Rally.  Here's some photos from the day, this group was taken by the professional photographer on site.

Rigby and I in obedience, Novice B.

Rigby and I in the Advanced Rally class.

These next photos are photos I took of some of the rally on Wednesday.

Julie Baker and Winston

One very happy competitor!!

Some final thoughts from my week:  Yes, it was a good decision.  I had a wonderful time, met lots of new Weim friends and can't wait till the next time I'm able to attend the Weimaraner National Specialty!! Perhaps we'll even enter the Most Versatile Weimaraner competition!

Best parts of the week -- seeing people I had met in the past and making new friends.  Spending so much time around Weim people and their dogs.  Spending time with Rigby and seeing how well she handled all our travels and time away from home.

Regrets and lessons learned -- next time I'll find a place to stay closer to the event.  Oh, and that outfit I wore to show obedience -- poor choice on my part!!  We live and learn!

A big thank you to the WCA, the WCA Board, the National Show Committee and everyone who makes this wonderful event happen!!  A special thank you to all who make the performance part of the Nationals such a big success!  It is so important to showcase the versatility, talent and intelligence of our special breed!

Time to start training for next time!!  And, Harley, I'll try to take you next time, too!!