November 5, 2017 VST Tracking Test
At Cosumnes/American River Colleges, Sacramento CA.
Test Secretary Karey Krauter
It was a delight and an honor to host the TRACS VST test on Sunday Nov 5th. The test accepted five dogs plus an alternate, and nine entries were received (one of which withdrew after closing). We were greeted at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning with light rain, but that cleared out by midmorning and not a drop was seen the rest of the weekend. Our judges were faves Sil Sanders (who had an interesting delay getting here from the Seattle area due to an out-of-the-ordinary snowstorm there!) and our own Rita Crawford (who did amazing triple duty additionally serving as our club tracking coordinator/advisor AND working from Las Vegas where she has been handling family matters). Sil and Rita had no trouble plotting 4 tracks at the Cosumnes River college campus, and then 2 more (including an alternate) at the smaller American River campus. Our tireless Chief Track Layer Colton Meyer also served double duty, organizing the tracklaying timetable and driving everyone everywhere. At the end of plotting day, those who were staying over were treated to dinner at Royana Palmer’s house, bless her heart for opening up her doors.
Sunday morning at the crack of dawn, we had a bit of a break since all clocks were rolled back an hour the previous night as Daylight Savings Time came to an end. It was like sleeping in, an uncommon luxury for tracking enthusiasts! Tracklaying and the morning draw for the track order went off like clockwork, and the first competitor hit the pavement promptly at 930am under clear and crisp skies.
Unfortunately the test had no passes (including the alternate track that was run at the end of the day), but there were some amazing challenges that were expertly overcome along the way. One of the tracklayers (first time tracklaying at a VST test, good for you!) asked just what the biggest challenges would be during the day, and this made me want to document where most of the problems occurred. The answer seemed to be different for every dog, and isn’t that what keeps us interested in the sport: contamination, distraction, bad luck in the form of a certain wind blowing…
Dog 104, an 8yo Golden Retriever bitch, drew the first track of the morning. We all knew that the starting point for track #1 was within walking distance of the test headquarters, and during the morning briefing and draw we were a little horrified to be watching the groundskeeper’s lawnmower and leafblower working vigorously in the area of the track. In fact the start article was missing (oh THAT’S why the tracklayer has the emergency backup article with her at the start of the track) and the first intermediate article was blown off the track. Great dog for negotiating the freshly mowed lawn on the lengthy first leg, and for finding the first intermediate article after the first turn, and then getting back on track! Sadly she mistook the second turn, and wasn’t able to recover after turning the wrong direction.
Dog 103, an 8yo Belgian Tervuren dog, drew the second track. This dog worked a difficult first turn but wasn’t able to locate the first intermediate article after drifting off the track’s second leg (I apologize that I wasn’t able to glean for most of the dogs the possible reasons for their going awry). The judges’ remarked how wonderfully easy the dog was to read, foretelling the continuation of a great tracking career for him.
Dog 105, a 7yo Portuguese Water Dog bitch, drew track #3. The map indicates a good effort overcoming one of the changes of surface on the first leg and success at the first turn which was the track’s MOT, but the dog drifted laterally along the second leg and was not able to find the first intermediate article despite much searching in the area (“I know there’s something here, I just know it!”).
Dog 102, an 8yo Smooth Collie dog, drew track #4. I believe this track was also in the area of the heavy lawnmower and leafblower activity. Sadly the dog wasn’t able to get momentum off of a good start and was whistled off after losing the track not far down the first leg.
Dog 101, a 5yo Bloodhound bitch, drew the fifth track. The track commenced quickly after we all arrived at the second campus, American River College about a half-hour drive north from the Cosumnes campus. Lunch was served on site here and would wait until they got back! It looks like she worked hard to get past the MOT first turn but then couldn’t zero in on the article on the second leg, even finding the next turn before returning the area of the article. They weren’t able to overcome the confusion and were whistled off. I was interested in the later discussion about the predictions that the judges have to make on plotting day, over whether a clear area through which they are plotting a track will stay clear on the next day (for example a church parking lot that is clear on Saturday probably won’t be on Sunday). In the case of this track, there was considerable youth activity ahead of the dog that no one could have foreseen; I’m not sure how that may or may not have affected her.
The first alternate dog 106, a 4yo Belgian Tervuren bitch, was able to run the alternate track at the American River campus. This was our heartbreaker of the day, what a good dog! She worked the first three legs and two turns and first intermediate article with confidence. Then I think I understand that she hit a complicated area of surface changes and a storm drain grate, where she still was able to ultimately work out the correct third turn. However quite soon after that, she told the handler that there was a fourth turn where the track actually went straight. (UPDATE as of 11/12/2017! The weekend after the TRACS test, she was able to get into the PAFTA VST test in San Jose, where she PASSED! New Champion Tracker, Linda Knowles and Kenya! I hope that her work at our TRACS test contributed to her success at PAFTA! CONGRATULATIONS!)
All of these dogs did amazing, and we look forward to hearing about their next test!
In addition to our tireless judges Sil and Rita, and tireless chief tracklayer Colton, we had an outstanding crew of tireless tracklayers. Thank you so much to all of you who gave us your weekend, and not just because you felt obligated to, but because you all were genuinely interested and rooting for these dogs that are on the threshold of achieving this highest of tracking levels. Stephanie Laston, Sharon Prassa, Bev Peabody, Debi Best, Royana Palmer, and Kaye Hall. Thank you also to Meg Azevedo for helping with chauffeuring everyone everywhere.
Appreciatively and respectfully submitted, Karey Krauter, test secretary
Daylight Savings Time ends 2AM Sunday morning of the test!
Set your clocks back Saturday night!
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Judging Program, when and where we meet.
Cosumnes River College campus map, we meet in parking lot F 9AM.
American River College campus map, we meet in parking lot A afternoon.
Tracklayers schedule, who and when on Saturday’s plotting day