Today we set out for our first track of 2007. The snow is finally gone, although now we have flooding and mud, mud and more mud. I thought I had everything, but guess my brain stayed home.
I went to the fields at 1:00 and laid Bea's track. 677+ yards. It was 59 degrees and partly to mostly cloudy with a moderate to strong wind.
At 3:30 we went back and laid a TD type track for Annie and then at 3:55 Bea and I started her track. The first indication that I had left my brain elsewhere was at the start flag. Not 4 steps from it the field was covered with 1-2" of water. Bea usually does not have trouble with water, BUT she's never tracked through it AT the start AND she has not tracked since December. She had a very difficult time getting started. She could smell the scent but it had pooled all over the water surface and was too spread out.
Finally she got some scent and got started and then we hit water again and she had slightly less trouble than before. On dry land again she was still having some trouble (very dry grass and squashy strong mud smelling dirt) BUT Bea was making progress and she was non stop working very hard. She overshot the corner by quite a bit but then got onto the next leg and did well. The track then went through some bushes and crossed a stone wall. she went back and forth in front of the bushes before finally going through it and easily crossing the wall at the right spot.
She then quickly crossed the paved road (after we paused to check traffic) and di not give a second look at the man walking. (who looked like he thought it strange that someone with a dog and a LONG leash popped out of the bushes) She crossed exactly at the right place and over the stone wall and into the field.
She tracked well and easily found her first article , her favorite a square of blue leather. Bea then tracked very slowly but a bit more accurately through an area with several animal holes where she only looked at them briefly before continuing. She overshot the next corner but by less than before and then tracked on and off the track to where it went into a swampy/ cattail area. She again searched up and down the barrier and then went in. She wanted to cross the brook but I held her back (it was over my knees deep and while she would have known she was wrong and come back, "I" did not want to cross that cold thing twice) and then she found the track again and followed it out onto the mown field again.
Once again it went through a very wet 1-2" deep area and she again had trouble (which she rarely does as she loves wet tracking) but then tracked fairly well as it crossed diagonally across and up a hill. She found the cell phone on the top and then looked at me waiting. This is when I realised brain stupidity #2. I'd forgotten her water. Tongue hanging out from the hard work Bea went back to tracking (probably muttering bad thoughts at me), a left turn and down the hill and across another wet spot at the base of another hill and easily found the wallet.
She then tracked much better to and across a dirt farm road and into a field of tall grass that is laid over and only overshot the next corner by a little. She drifted a bit but then pulled well to the glove.. YEAH Bea! What a happy hard working girl despite her dumb mom.
Bea got some treats and happily jogged to the vehicle where she got undressed and crated and we drove down to Annie's track.
Annie gets dressed and is very eager to track. And then my brain left again. I had meant to bring the track map to help Annie because this was her longest track but I forgot it. <sigh> So I thought, "I know how long each leg is, I'll just count". Yup sure. I forgot to start. <double sigh>
Annie checked the start article and then set off perfectly. Just perfect. All the way down the first leg nearly footstep tracking. She missed the turn by a bit and then started that leg well but was several feet to the left of the track because of the wind drifted scent (although because I had no map I did not know it). She then got distracted by a random paper plate that had blown into the field from God knows where over the winter. I let her sniff it and then she went right back to work. But decidedly less dedicated. Probably because she was working drift, and if I'd had my map I would have known.
We then cross the next leg and she spent little time finding it and then was tracking pretty well again, although I now knew we had messed up the last leg because we missed the article. Annie made the next corner fairly well and tracked better to the glove. Which she stodd and looked at but did not pick up. She likes tracking but we are still working on article excitement. We played with the glove and she was very happy. Boing boing!
I then went back to the start with her not on harness, just collar/leash and we retraced the track trying to find the article. I then realised that how far off the leg we had been the first time. All of a sudden Annie perks up and looks like "WAIT! what's that?!" and she zips to the right about 10' and grabs up the missing article! What a good girl.
I undressed her and let her have some free time running laps around me (the land owner had given us prior permission to when we use the area not close to the road) and then I collected her back up and we came home.
The dogs are tired and happy and they don't love me any less because I'm an idiot. But it still made me feel like I was a bad trainer and dog mom. I will be better prpared next time I bet!