|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!!