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Sylvia Schultz -- CH Rosepoint Rave Reviews UDXPerformance Week 2012

On the right track

by Sylvia Schultz

There are three levels of competition for tracking titles offered by the American Kennel Club. The first two levels, Tracking Dog (TD) and Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) use the dog's scenting ability to locate articles left on a blind track previously walked by a stranger to the dog. This takes place in vegetated fields and light woods. The basic TD level requires locating one item, usually a dark glove, at the end of a track. The TDX level, increasingly difficult, has more items to find, a longer, older trail, and more difficult cover. The third level of tracking, a huge leap from TDX, is the Variable Surface Tracking test (VST)

On the VST track, the handler, as the dependent partner, follows wordlessly and in amazement as the many hours of work in all kinds of weather pays off.

CH CT Carealot's Mesmeriz'n Eyes, VCD2, RN,
AXP, AJP (earned Champion tracker title in 2010) -- First breed Champion to pass, first smooth and first bitch.

VST requires a blind track of 600 to 800 yards with between one third and two thirds of the total track plotted on hard surface such as parking lots and walkways made of asphalt, concrete, or gravel. Because these tracks go between and around buildings, some of them very tall, the scenting conditions are constantly changing with scent swirling, lifting and dropping in pools. Most parking lots have vehicles, both moving and stationary, and a lot of pedestrian traffic. By the time one enters VST tests, the team must be prepared to work a track with many distractions, search under and around vehicles, approach buildings, negotiate stairways and pavilions and locate four previously planted articles (fabric, metal, leather and plastic).

On the VST track, the handler, as the dependent partner, follows wordlessly and in amazement as the many hours of work in all kinds of weather pays off. We cannot scent, so we must trust completely that our canine partner is "on the right track."


CH CT Rosepoint Rave Reviews, UDX (Toby) earned the Champion tracker title in 2011.

Because the dog's scenting ability is so far superior to ours, when we work a VST track we must relinquish control and believe "the one with the harness"
understands what we want.

Once the dog has passed all three levels he is a Champion Tracker (CT). Since its inception in 1995, approximately 317 canines of any breed have earned the CT title. Of those, forty-four are members of Pecatonica Tracking Club of Rockford, Illinois. It just so happens that all four Champion Tracker Collies in the USA are members of that club. Now in its 29th year, Pecatonica is known throughout the Midwest not only for its total number of CTs, but also because its club members often help other area clubs by laying track at their events. While some members compete in agility, obedience, conformation and rally, the unifying factor is their total obsession with tracking.

CT Shepherd's Song of Praise, UD (Nicky) earned CT title in 2006.

Because the dog's scenting ability is so far superior to ours, when we work a VST track we must relinquish control and believe "the one with the harness" understands what we want. If we are paying very close attention, we will observe the flews working with an occasional tongue flick as he uses yet another of his senses to gain information about track location. On the VST track, the handler, as the dependent partner, follows wordlessly and in amazement as the many hours of work in all kinds of weather pays off. We cannot scent, so we must trust completely that our canine partner is "on the right track."

CT Highcroft Regal Rogue, UD (Reggie) titled in 2005

The feeling of "one with nature" achieved on the track, especially VST, makes the dog not only the dominant partner in the team, but also a very close and dear friend.

The only four Champion Tracker Collies:
1) CT Highcroft Regal Rogue, UD (Reggie) titled 2005
2) CT Shepherd's Song of Praise, UD(Nicky) titled 2006
3) CH CT Carealot's Mesmeriz'n Eyes, VCD2, RN, AXP, AJP ( Rivah) titled 2011 (first smooth, first bitch and first breed champion to pass)
4) CH CT Rosepoint Rave Reviews, UDX (Toby) titled 2011

COLLIE QUOTE
The Collie presents an impressive, proud picture of true balance, each part being in harmonious proportion to every other part and to the whole.

– from the AKC Collie Breed Standard

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