FLEX'S TRACKING STORY!!
Flex started tracking training in Summer 2008 with a good friend of mine Robyn Docker. She ownes a Collie & 2 shelties which all have their Tracking Champion Titles. On out first session, Robyn commented that you have an excellent tracking dog there. There is no reason why you and Flex cannot go straight through to your Tracking Champion in one season and go for the Tracking Dog of the Year Award.
I had no idea what any of that means and wheather she was just saying this because she is a good friend ot that I do have a great dog.
We started out Tracking Qualifying Test in March at KCC Park and passed with flying colours. She tracked my partner Brett which she just adores so it was very easy even though she had never tracked him before. Then she did her Test 1 at Flinders tracking Robyn and she loves her also so that was easy too.
Then Flex and I went to freezing and extremely windy Ballarat to do Test 2. This is an unknown person. No problem for her, she gained an excellent grading, even in a paddock next to where we were full of sheep & lambs. This gained her Tracking Dog Title.
Then we went to cold & wet Coldstream for Test 3 which was in a bush setting. Another unknown person and another qualifying pass.
Then we went to Dromana to a winery and did Test 4 in a paddock with long grass up to my knees. Flex was in heaven, but couldn't see over the grass so she kept standing on her back legs to look first where she was going. She was on the track all the way as i could see crushed grass but i couldn't see where any of the socks wew but she sat on them when she came across them. Flex and I were both saturated after the wet long grass, she looked like she had been for a swim.
We did so well that we were asked if we would like to Track on, which means she can go for her test 5 on the same day in a different location. I asked the judge if he thought Flex was ready, he said only if you think you and her are fit enough (which was tongue in cheek) as we both run about 6-7 kms, 5 out of 7 days a week. So we had a go at Test 5 on top of the plateau overlooking Safety Beach, so picturesque.
We went up and down the side of a very steep hill but had no problems at all tracking another unknown person over 1.2km. So Flex had tracked 2.2km in total that day and won Best Performing Working Dog and gained her Tracking Dog Excellent Title.
Then we went to freezing, windy Broadford for her Test 6 (Tracking Champion Title) where Flex had to find an unknown person after a 2 hour wait in a paddock full of dead sheep skulls & skeletons and wool and about 300 live sheep also. Well that was a test. Flex sniffed the heads and played with any bits of wool she could as she was tracking. The tracklayer had lost 2 out of 4 of his articles to be placed on the track so he decided he would use his tiny little lycra fingerless bike gloves which looked like a piece of black bark. Flex found them and sat on them no problems but i couldn't work out why she was indicating an article when i couldn't see a sock but she was sitting on it. It was so small 10 metres away so she truly does indicate articles before i see them.
Two sheep decided to run straight across in front of her and she decided to chase them up a hill to the end of the 10m lead, I yelled out "Flex, leave and find!!!" And she did instantly. It was amazing she listened to me.
With all the gradings over her tests she gained enough profile points over all the other dogs tracking this season to win Tracking Dog of the Year 2008. So Robyn was right from the first day she saw us tracking.
Flex did all 6 tests in only 6 weeks at the tender age of 21 months, truly a true tracking dog. Now she will be training for hearding and the New Track and Search Dog Titles which start in 2009 as well as having time off to have a littler later in the year.
Thank you Donna for your great story, we look forward to updates later on.