Saturday, September 13, 2014

We're Certified, But, Oh, What a Day of Craziness It Was

This is a true story, you just can't make up things like this.  To protect the innocent, the names of the participants in this story have been changed, and those of you familiar with all those involved might find some humor in the way the identities have been "shielded."

Two weeks ago when I made the plans to try to certify Rigby for an AKC tracking test I never gave a thought to the fact that the date would fall on September 13th!  I was born on the 13th and have always considered it a lucky number, not a number to avoid.  I've never had triskaidekaphobia, even on those times when the 13th fell on a Friday!  After this morning I might be changing my opinion and never schedule anything of importance on the 13th of any month!

It started from the time my alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. -- I fell back to sleep and woke up at 6:08, not terribly late, but it put my morning into high gear to get ready to leave for the park and not forget anything, especially the harness, the line and plenty of good treats for Rigby!

I had hoped for a cool morning for our certification test, looking forward to dew on the grass, and hoping for no rain -- I just don't like to track in rain (Rigby could care less, she'll track in anything).  As soon as I started driving toward the park the rain started to fall -- at least it was just a very light rain.

On the way to the park I called one of my fellow trackers, Allen, to let him know that I'd be a few minutes late -- didn't want them to think I had chickened out at the last minute!

We arrived at the park to find out that I was not the only one who had overslept this morning.  The tracking judge who was to do the certification had a malfunction with her alarm clock, woke up late and decided not to come out to track.  Thankfully the tracking judge, Phyllis, called Allen to relay this message and Allen reminded Phyllis that she had agreed to do a certification track for Rigby.

So now we had extra time to wait before the certification track would be ready to run, more time for my stomach to get tight and the nerves to take over.

To keep me busy, I was assigned the task of laying track for one of the other TD dogs, Greta, and I put in her track and then followed along as she expertly followed my scent, making her always precise turns, finding a few hot dogs along the way, till she arrived at the glove.

As we were finishing up Greta's track Phyllis arrived and, after a brief discussion with Allen, left to lay the certification track.  I headed in the opposite direction to lay a track for Phyllis' dog, Perry, that would be run after Rigby's certification attempt.  I was finding it tough to keep my mind on the tracks I was laying, getting anxious to see how Rigby would track on this damp September morning.

Finally it was time to head out to the field where Rigby's track would be run.  I got her out of the car, we headed to the start flag, harnessed her up and away she flew.  The track started in the very center of a large field that we normally divide in half to make two tracking fields.  I was surprised when Rigby's first turn went to the right, as I thought that that side of the field had been used for the track of another TD dog that had not yet run his track.  But Rigby's indication was true and off we went.

Putting Rigby's harness on.

Rigby was moving very quickly and I was just trying to stay with her and watch for indications of the next turn, but what she did seemed very odd, she dropped down about 10 yards and then seemed to follow a track that ran a bit lower than the previous track we were on.  To my dismay I heard Phyllis call to me, which meant that we were off track and we would not certify.  Then Phyllis signaled for me to look ahead of where we were and I saw two start flags about 70 yards away, it was obvious that two tracks had been plotted in the same field, and the second one had hot dogs on it, as it was a training track, not a testing track.  This meant that our certification track had been fouled and Phyllis agreed to put in a new track in a field that had not been used already.

You might wonder how this could have happened. Well, so do we.  All I can tell you is that sometimes communications get crossed and the wrong messages sent.  Phyllis thought she had the entire field to work with and Allen, who laid the other track, thought Phyllis was using only the far end of this large field.

My concerns were with Rigby.  She was tracking with great motivation when suddenly she was pulled off the track with no chance to finish or find a glove. 
I've always been told this is not something you want to do with your tracking dog as it can be demotivating.  I took Rigby back to the car and put her in her crate and gave her some hot dogs while telling her what a good dog she was.

I was beginning to think that this was just not meant to be the day that we would get to certify, nothing was going right.

We left the area while the new track was plotted and put in. Thankfully I was able to go watch Allen track his Irish Water Spaniel (well, she almost looked like one after her track) Zsa Zsa, which took my mind off another wait for our track to be ready.

We drove back down to the field and were told that the track was ready to run.  Suddenly a car swerved off the road and into the parking area between my vehicle and Phyllis' van.  A man jumped out of the car and almost ran over to Phyllis asking for directions to someplace he was trying to find, all they while ranting about how he dislikes Pennsylvania. Just what I needed, another delay.

Once the man was dispatched with the needed directions, I got Rigby out of her crate and we headed to the start flag for the second time.

I put her harness on.

She eagerly took off on her second track.

There was no problem with motivation with this dog.

She tracked as true as she usually does.

Headed up to the corner of the field that always gives her problems.

Made that turn and tracked across the top of the field.

She found the glove with no problem, retrieved it to me and passed her certification track in a mere 5 minutes.

Heading back to the cars after the track.

Rigby would keep tracking if given the chance.

Two happy girls on a great tracking day.
So now I'll be sending my entries in to try to get a place in a tracking test this fall.  But you can be sure that I won't be entering any tests that fall on the 13th of the month!!

Later in the morning, while heading out to track Phyllis' dog, one of the other trackers mentioned that he sometimes has his birthday fall on Friday the 13th.  Ironically, Phyllis said her birthday is also on the 13th and I said, mine too!  Then we started comparing months and I found out that both Phyllis and I were born on January 13th, although not the same year.

NOTE FOR NON-TRACKERS:  Are you wondering what it means to certify a dog in tracking?  Well, in order to enter a tracking test a dog must first be certified by a tracking judge that the dog and handler are able to pass a tracking test.  So, in essence, before I can enter Rigby in a tracking test we have to pass a test with the same requirements, to prove we can do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment