I took Blueberry and Chauncey tracking yesterday in some crazy hot weather here in Florida. My two nieces, Mac & Bailey, came along to see how I track as they always here me talking about it, but have yet to see me track with the Poodles. We met up with Joyce and another lady at one of our usual spots, an abandoned subdivision. This time the grass was well over our knees and fairly thick in most fields, some having sparse areas.
I headed out to lay a track for Joyce as she went another direction to lay one for Blueberry. We tried to get the longer ones that need more aging in first then we can work with younger dogs and shorter tracks while waiting. I laid a long, straight track for Joyce’s dog, Micah, with several articles and picked out the spots to place cross tracks. My nieces followed along from a distance to see what I did. Once that was laid I had to wait for Micah’s track to age before I could add the cross tracks, so we discussed the other tracks we were going to do and some new/different ideas I was given for training cross tracks. Joyce went to lay a track for another dog and the lady that joined us went to lay one for Chauncey. After Micah’s track had aged about 35 minutes, I took Mac and Bailey with me along the paved road until I came to my markers. I sent them in straight across Micah’s track, then had them walk parallel to it for a ways before turning back towards me to cross the track at another point. Then we left it to age for a while.
About the time we got back, Joyce was getting back from running a track, so I harnessed up Blueberry and headed for her track. I gave Mac my camera and told to take whatever shots she could, so all my pictures were done by her. she got some nice shots, but with the grass being so tall it was difficult to get clear pictures. We got to the start flag of Blueberry’s track and she started onto the track and then started acting goofy, running back and forth, not tracking. I think a lot of it had to do with 3 children behind me watching us work. She loves children and had my nieces and Joyce’s grandson with us. I just waited for her to stop and think about what she should do and after about a minute, she settled in and started tracking. I am learning with Blueberry that this excitedness/goofiness at the start line is a way she shows stress when I change the conditions on her. If I just stand quietly, she settles down and refocuses on her job. I need to add more start line distractions to get her over this. She tracked well after that only glancing at the children once or twice, but never letting them distract her again. At the second turn, it went right away from the orange grove, and Blueberry pulled very strongly towards the grove. Whether the scent drifted that way or so many times the track goes into the grove when we use that field that she was thinking more than following the scent. She finally came back and went the correct direction, working the last turn and standing on the glove. It was so hot out there that her tongue was to her knees, so I took her back and cranked up the A/C in the truck while Joyce went to run another track with her student. It helped to cool them off before getting Chauncey out for her track and Mac and Bailey cooled off as well.
Once we had cooled off a little, I got Chauncey out and harnessed up. As we started her track, I knew she was tracking but not wanting to put her head down into the grass. She did a lot more air scenting than I like for her, but when she seems to track 5-8 feet off the actual track and then comes back and points out her articles, there is not much I can argue with her about. At one point the lady (I can’t remember her name) laid a leg the was only 40 yds and an article not too far down the next leg, Chauncey kept wanting to cut across and head straight to the article. I held my ground and she worked it out. On the last leg when Chauncey got to the glove, she stood about 4 feet from it, staring at it intently, but not wanting to go into the thick grass to touch it. She did go to it to get her reward off the glove once I placed the food on it. Chauncey always knows where the track is, she just doesn’t always want to go that way. Sometimes it seems like she is wandering or hunting, but she always comes right back to the article or glove. Probably why she hasn’t earned her TD yet, she has to do it her way.
We had a fun day, even if it was too hot to be outside. Reminded me why we almost never track in August. One thing that happened was Blueberry got cactus spines in her foot. We always have some little cactuses in the field, but they never bother or stop the dogs. I try to keep an eye on their feet for them or watch the dogs for limping. Blueberry never showed any limp and I didn’t notice them until we got home and I was taking her out of her crate in the truck. I glanced down and saw that she had several spines sticking out of the top of her foot and lower part of her leg. I pulled them out, but she never even noticed even though there was a little blood where they came out. I didn’t find any in her pads, but felt bad I missed them at the fields.