Not So Hot

Today was Rogue’s second tracking lesson with Laura. It has been quite warm, so we were glad the lesson wasn’t until the evening.

Since Rogue tends to be a bit on the excited side when she first arrives, Laura suggested we go for a short walk around the property before starting. Rogue had a blast running around and checking out various smells. After about 10 minutes of running free, we attached the tracking line to Rogue’s pacific blue Ruffwear harness and took her up to the “scent pad” to begin.

I think Rogue ran too much before starting to track. She was all over the place and at times Laura said it looked as though she was on a walk with Huib instead of following a track.

When Huib and Rogue were finished the first track, Laura had us give Rogue some water and then put her into the car for a short rest. She then got her male lab, Tenner, out of the vehicle and suited him up. She wanted to show us how a more seasoned dog tracks. It was neat to watch him and to see how smoothly he works.

Rogue’s second attempt went better near the end of the track, but she was still not as good as other times. Huib and I are convinced she was too warm and that allowing her to run free beforehand wasn’t a good choice.

Hopefully next week will go better.

On another note, Laura was telling us that she has posted a few messages on the tracking email list she is a member of to see if anyone has any suggestions regarding how things will be handled at a trial if I choose to handle Rogue. She said that a few people have responded and all of them seem to think that I will not be able to trial in tracking with Rogue.

So, guess what? I’m going to prove everyone wrong and from now on, I’m going to handle Rogue at the lessons, not Huib. Laura is totally in favour of having me track, and is eager to help me show the others wrong.

Time for Classes

For the past year Rogue has been taking part in the monthly tracking sessions hosted by Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

While working with Susie in field work with Arizona, she mentioned that she takes tracking lessons with a woman named Laura, who also does field with her labs, Tenner and Cassie. Rogue seems to be stuck in the beginning parts of learning corners, so Huib and I decided it’s time to look into doing more regular sessions. While at field one night, I asked Laura about tracking and after learning that she is a tracking judge, we set up a lesson.

On Friday evening around 6:00pm, we met up with Laura at Susie’s place and did some tracking with Rogue. Since it was her first time seeing Rogue track, Laura set up two different types of tracks and asked us to show her what we have done so far.

Rogue was amazing!! She tracked like a pro. She was a bit excited, so she wasn’t perfect, but Laura thought she could have totally earned her first tracking title with what she showed her.

Laura draws maps and makes comments along the track on the map, so once we are done she is able to show Huib where things need to be improved. She even gave us the map afterwards so that we can keep track of Rogue’s progress.

As long as it doesn’t rain, and we’re all free, we’ll be tracking with Laura Fridays at 6:00pm.

Back to Track

It’s been a while, but on Saturday we returned to tracking with Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

Brooke squatting down while Rogue lays beside her

We are still working on corners, but Rogue’s enthusiasm got in the way of her search, making her zig-zag more than the instructor would like, so she asked us to do some long straight tracks before trying another corner.

Brooke holds the tracking line while Rogue has her nose down following the track

Over the next month we need to continue working on her corners, starting with a couple of really long straight tracks before attempting an actual corner. The instructor loves her excitement level, but we need to rein it in a bit.

When you watch her track it’s hard to believe she’s actually a guide dog, lol!

Corners and More Corners

Today Rogue had her third tracking lesson with Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

She was a freaking superstar!!

Other then being a bit too enthusiastic, Rogue nailed her lesson on tracking corners.

We have graduated to the next level, so we are now working with a woman named Mary-Anne.

There were only 2 other dogs, a Beagle and a German Shepherd, in our group, so we had a chance to do 5 long tracks.

Mary-Anne had us each go and lay our tracks. She told us to do the same as we had been before, but that once we reached the spot where we wanted to turn, we were to put a flag and then continue past a bit. They continue past the flag in order to make sure the dogs are using their noses to find the track and not following the flags. Once we started our corner, we didn’t go as far as we had, so the track ends up sort of being an L-shape.

rogue wanted to run, so zigzagged a lot her first track. Mary-Anne said that Rogue is a really fast dog. She says it looks like she really knows what she is doing, but that she wants to go faster than we are going and as a result, gets frustrated and pulls. I suggested Huib do the next track or two on his own, just to give Rogue a chance to go as fast as she wanted and see how she does. Mary-Anne thought it was a good idea, so that is what we did.

Rogue did fabulously! In addition to having Huib do the tracks on his own, he also began laying the treats closer together, so it would get her back on task and slow her down a bit. We were using cut up chicken wieners, so we knew she’d slow down for them.

After Huib did two tracks on his own, I rejoined the team and we had two successful, final tracks.

I’m not sure where we will end up going with tracking, but Rogue seems to really enjoy the lessons and excel at it, so we’ll see where she takes us.

Rogue In Action

After missing July’s tracking lesson, we got back at it.

And, Rogue was a freaking pro!!

Rogue searches for the scent. the picture is taken from the side, you can see me holding her tight leash and Huib walking closer to her head in case she needs some direction.

A front view of Rogue searching.

A front view picture taken from a lower point.

rogue is getting close to the end of the track we laid. She's pulling hard towards her prize.

Rogue has found her orange Orbi ball on an orange braided nylon strap. The picture is sort of taken from the side back and you can only see Rogue with her toy.

We laid two shorter (50 feet long) and three or four longer (130 feet long) tracks for rogue to do.

On the shorter tracks, we had the treats laid out every couple of feet, but once we got to the longer tracks she was only getting treats about every 10 to 20 feet. On the longer tracks, Huib would lay four treats a foot apart from one another and then walk 15 to 20 feet before he laid four more treats a foot apart from one another.

Rogue freaking rocked the tracking lesson. If we had not run out of treats, the instructor was going to have us start spacing the treats out to 25 or 30 feet – which is our homework.

Huib, Rogue and I stand together. Huib and I are facing the camera, but rogue has her side showing. Huib is wearing jeans with a navy blue hooded sweatshirt. I am wearing jeans with a teal t-shirt and navy blue vest, pink baseball cap and rogue is wearing her teal Silverfoot martingale and a brown leather braided leash.

Rogue made us SO proud! We are going to try hard to practice before the next session, when we’ll begin learning about tracking corners.

Mantracker Rogue?

Maybe not quite…

Yesterday Huib and I took Rogue to a tracking session put on by Search & Rescue Dogs Ontario.

As part of their fundraising, SAR Dogs Ontario offers tracking training once a month to the public. The sessions are held at Bronte Creek Provincial Park and cost $50 for about two and a half hours of instruction.

Saturday was our first opportunity to attend, so we got our stuff ready and set out for Oakville.

There were probably more than 15 dogs in attendance, not including the ones that belonged to the instructors.

at 8:30am, we were split into three groups, according to our level of experience. Since it was our first lesson, we were in level one. there were about 6 dogs, including Rogue. there was a Beagle, a Bloodhound, 2 Shepherds and a Border Collie in our group – the Bloodhound had attended two other times, so her and her owner were quickly moved on to the next level. It is almost as though Bloodhounds are born knowing how to track, lol!

Our instructor, Dave Walker, asked us to all put our dogs into our vehicles and follow him to a field. We were then instructed on how to lay a short track.

First we were directed to shuffle our feet around in a horizontal line, smooching down the grass and leaving our scent. We were then instructed to put a flag to the left and lay several treats in the grass to mark the spot. After that, we walked about 50 feet, shuffling our feet and laying a few treats every couple feet to mark the track. At the end, we covered a toy and some treats with grass and stuck another flag in the ground.

Once we had all retrieved our dogs, we took turns having them follow the track we had laid.

When it was Rogue’s turn, Dave instructed us to keep her leash attached to her collar and then put the leash under her right leg, which would force her head downward, and then I was to hold the leash and follow her pull as Huib wiggled his fingers in front of her nose and encouraged her to follow the track we had laid for her. She did really well with her first and final track, but she was revved up and extremely excited during the second and third runs, so she was a little less precise.

Each time the dogs finished following a track, we were instructed to create another one for them in a different part of the field.

At the end of the session we all sat in the shade while Dave talked about what we had learned and recommended things to work on to each of the teams.

We weren’t too surprised when he suggested we work on slowing and calming down Rogue, lol!

Huib said he enjoyed the lesson and said he’d be willing to practice with me a few times a week and attend the July session.