January 26, 2014 Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX)

Tracking Dog Excellent Test held January 26, 2014


The workers who arrived early on Sunday morning were treated to a beautiful sunrise with gorgeous orange sky displayed through the branches of the deciduous trees around the pond at Mather Regional Park. After very warm, sunny weather on plotting day, the weather took a turn for the better on test day – slightly overcast with negligible wind and a high in the mid-60’s.
Unfortunately, the ground cover, which is normally lush and green this time of year, was dry and brown due to our record-setting dry winter. This presented different tracking challenges than we normally see in our Sacramento tracking tests.!


The Test Secretary and Chief Tracklayer were very efficient and kept the test on schedule. The draw for running order was done promptly at 9:45 am and the first team was in the field and  ready to go at 10:00 am.!

The first dog was a Bassett Hound from Woodside, CA. The Bassett started well, then
struggled a little just short of the first turn. After working through the issues, she moved briskly down the track passing the cross tracks, finding both intermediate articles, and making 3 turns. Then the dog/handler team faced the most challenging obstacle. The track dropped down into the middle of a dried-up creek and turned left. Sadly the team was unable to work through this challenge and they heard the whistle. !

The second dog was a Bernese Mountain Dog from Boise, ID. The Bernese had a hard time starting and didn’t make it through the first turn before hearing the whistle. After the whistle she tracked  beautifully but there are no do-overs at a tracking test!!

The third dog was a Smooth Collie from Menifee, CA. The Collie moved out quickly from the start flag – the gallery was sure this was going to be a pass. The Collie made the first two turns, passing the cross tracks and finding the first intermediate article. Then the team faced their most challenging obstacle: the track turned and crossed a paved road into loose gravel. The Collie made it across the road but didn’t continue into the gravel. The team struggled. Eventually the Collie turned in a parallel direction to the track, intersected the true track but didn’t take it. The judge blew his whistle.!

The fourth dog was a Vizsla from Del Rey Oaks, CA. The Vizsla, Soolie, ran a fun track with a few difficult areas. Sooli’s style is not “head down, pull hard.” Instead she tends to go back and forth across the track while moving forward. She found the first corner and started down the second leg, crossing a gravel road, heading toward the area downstream from the dam. On that leg, she found her first intermediate article, a glasses case. Normally, the area where leg 2 turned is under water, but not so in this drought year. The track meandered through cattails and pennyroyal until it reached the dam. The track climbed back up to the dam road over rocks. At that point, the track crossed over the culvert, diagonally to the left, and went into the field. Sooli worked hard (rolling on a dead fish in the process) before finally crossing the road and picking up the track. At the next corner she found GOPHER HOLES, which she dutifully indicated…and indicated…and indicated. Once the handler finally called her off, Sooli searched for the new leg but found more gopher holes. Finally, she found the track and got the second intermediate article, a black sock. On they went to the next corner where Sooli noticed more critter holes but finally made the turn and pulled down that leg of the track. The next turn came at the base of a tree, back in the area that is usually under water. The track turned left at the tree, but Sooli overshot the corner. After searching she came back and found the final leg, which meandered,
again  through dead grasses and ultimately straightened out, leading her to the glove. YAY!!! The first pass of the day.!

The tracklayer, Sharon Prassa, commented: “ It was terrific to see such nice handling. Her owner had the right combination of patience and persistence to interrupt Sooli’s critter discovery. Needless to say, I was elated when they found that glove. Turns out Sooli had gotten her AKC Senior Hunter title just two weeks beforehand.”!

The fifth dog was a German Shepherd Dog from Napa, CA. The GSD started slowly but progressed nicely past the first set of cross tracks and the first two turns before making her way to the coyote bushes, the first major obstacle on the track. Unfortunately the GSD didn’t want to enter the bushes and went too far right along the front of the bushes to recover. The judge blew the whistle.!

The sixth dog was the second Smooth Collie of the day, handled by the same person who ran the third track. Some days the odds are stacked against a dog, and sadly this was true for the Collie. This track, and only this track, was within hearing range of both the shooting range and the model airplane facility. Extremely sound sensitive, the Collie was obviously stressed by the sound of rifle shots and did not want to leave her handler. To the relief of the handler, the judges finally blew the whistle when it became painfully evident the Collie would not be able to overcome her stress.!

Congratulations to Amy Reinecke and her Vizsla, Sooli (CH Mtnpride Mazey’s Stars Lined Up Bright as Sunshine CD SH TD – now TDX). Well done! !

The other five dogs will go on to track another day and earn their TDX titles.!

Our judges this weekend were Sil Sanders and Kyla Smay. They plotted some interesting and challenging tracks and were very supportive of the participants. !

A TDX test wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteers who give so freely of their time. Thank you so much to the following workers:!

Test Secretary – Penny Larson!
Chief Tracklayer – Meg Azevedo!
Hospitality – Cathy Beam (who did double duty as a tracklayer)!
Tracklayers: Jean Schafer, Sue Larson, Cathy Beam, Sharon Prassa, Mary Roseberry and
Margot McKeregan!
Drivers: Nancy Furay and Colton Meyer!
Primary Cross Tracklayers: Randi Knutson, Sue Bailey and Pam Flanagan!
Secondary Cross Tracklayers: Cindy Hult and Jenny Cuccinella

January 27, 2013 Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) Test Results!


Pre-dawn on Test day

Well, conditions couldn’t have been more crystal clear in the tracking field this morning under a gorgeous Full Moon. We were treated to an equally stellar sunrise as our day got under way.  The tracks all went down at their appointed times.  The cross track layers added their interference tracks 90 minutes later, and 90 minutes after that, the testing began.



The first dog to run was the German Shepherd from Napa, CA.  She managed to find and work her first leg,  found her way around her first corner, successfully ruled out the first set of cross tracks she came to, but then she failed to recognize her 2nd corner . . . she ultimately traveled beyond that corner, and when she eventually acknowledged that she was out of scent, she turned and headed in an incorrect direction.  Bummer!

Next up was a Belgian Malinois from Camarillo, CA.  This dog worked VERY meticulously and navigated very closely along the actual foot falls of the track layer.  She seemed not to appreciate the need to work her way through a creek, but, having done her due diligence to rule out that her track might go anywhere but through that cold(!) water, she did what she knew she needed to do and plunged in!  Corners and cross tracks were no problem for this dog.  Near the end of her track was a sizable swatch of dead, fallen over grass.  Once again, this girl tried her darnedest to hold out hope that her track did not actually go through that stuff, as it was large enough that she could not find a way around it.  After exhausting all other options, she accepted her reality and bounded across the large patch of odd vegetation, touching it as few times as possible.  An article was waiting for her just a short distance further, so she was well rewarded for her prudent decision!  Then, 70 yards later on this 295 yard leg (a length that would cause many handlers to think they missed a turn somewhere and perhaps lose faith in their dog) she had one more corner to conquer, and then a 50 yard home stretch to the final article. SUCCESS!  This handler’s trust in her dog had paid off.  Congratulations to Marla Vogeley and her lovely Malinois, Dottie Von Vogeley MX MXJ VCD2 TDX CDX!


Judges observing Leg 2 (dog not in view)

One Fail, One Pass, two still to go.

Track 3 was run by a young Portuguese Water Dog from St. Helena, CA who liked to give a very playful ‘bounce & whirl’ leap for joy any time she reconnected with her track if her nose had somehow lead her slightly astray (waaaay cute!).  She had some deviations from her first leg but did manage to find her way to her first corner, found leg 2 and managed to work her way across the stream.  This smart cutie did not let the cross tracks fool her, but she struggled to resolve corner 2 and a good portion of leg 3 of her track – but she did it.  She resolved corner 3 and did a very nice job on her way to corner 4, but corner 4 was an open turn (a wider than 90 degree angle) and she failed to recognize it.  The judges had no choice but to blow the whistle when it became clear that this dog was no longer tracking the track layer.  Phooey!

Two Fail, One Pass, one more to go.


Team just passing Start Flag

A Border Collie from Concord, CA stepped up to the start flag on Track 4.  This dog worked the first two legs of her track just fine, but, she overshot that 2nd corner a bit.  She did resolve which direction leg 3 of her track went, but that over shoot left her working too far to the right of the actual track, which set her up to question herself when she encountered her first set of cross tracks and suddenly had actual track (although incorrect track) right under her nose.  She explored that cross track quite a bit, but ultimately rejected it and resumed her parallel path to the actual track, which did eventually allow her to intersect the next leg of her track.  Those pesky cross tracks appeared again a very short distance later, and this time she decided to take them.  Shoot!


Left to right: Judges Tannis Witherspoon & Jim Hallet, Handler Marla Vogeley & “Dottie”, and Track layer Cathy Beam

Three Fail, One Pass – Final Score.

Yes, we offered a 5 Track Test, but when two of our six total entrants passed their Tests last weekend, they elected to withdraw from our Test, leaving us with only 4 dogs.  That’s just the way it sometimes goes.

Many thanks to the many(!) people who made this Test possible – Yes, it really does take ALL of these people to appropriately staff a TDX Test for only FOUR dogs (wow)!

  • Judges – Jim Hallett and Tannis Witherspoon (both imported from WA)
  • Judges’ Hospitality – Sue Larson, Penny Larson
  • Chief Track layer – Royana Palmer
  • Track layers – Meg Azevedo, Cathy Beam, Sharon Prassa, Don Just
  • Cross Track layers – Sue Larson, Mary Roseberry, Laurie Rossi, Christine Johnson
  • Drivers for Track layers & Judges – Lisa Kretner, Linda Kelly
  • Photographer – Sue Larson
  • Hospitality – Cathy Beam

Well done, everyone – THANK YOU!

Becky Hardenbergh, TDX Test Secretary