|Grab Life by the Ears TD
By Pierce Humphry
My name is Pierce Humphry and I have a one year old Basset Hound named Grab Life by the Ears TD, call name--Magnum. I had wanted a Basset Hound puppy for several years but tracking wasn’t planned when I got him. I had to do a class because my mom said I had to take at least one class if I wanted a puppy. The reason why I wanted to pick my own puppy is mainly because I could take care of him so he would like me instead of being like the other dogs who love mom the most.
The first class I tried was agility. He was really good at it and not afraid of any of the obstacles. But it just didn’t seem like the right class for a Basset Hound. Once we finished the agility class, I decided to take the Star City Canine Training Club’s tracking class with Marilyn Wilson, a co-worker and friend of my moms, and Art Hafdelin.
It was an 8 week course starting in September of last year. In first class I was the only one with a hound which seemed strange to me because it seems you would want scent hounds in a dog sport based mainly on using their nose. Tracking with Magnum was always easy. From the very first tracking class he always simply followed his nose.
The first few classes were short tracks so we just did them in the fields at the service dog training center where my mom works. Once we had to start laying longer tracks we had to move to Greenfield Recreation Park which has hundreds of acres of rolling fields which is where we met every Sunday.
In November the last class was a tracking match which was for club members only. For those people interested in certifying but were not club members, like me, Judge Judy Edwards would give you the opportunity to certify if you would volunteer to be a track layer.
I was under the impression that the TD test was a blind track but the certification track was marked. I was wrong. So by the second leg it became obvious how much more you have to trust your dog which I wasn’t doing. I found the entire track extremely nerve racking in fact it was harder than testing for my Taekwondo black belt because unlike Taekwondo I had almost no control of the situation. I learned as I went how to follow Magnum and he found the glove. Judge Edwards said Magnum was pulling so hard he looked like a dolphin leaping into his harness trying to get me to follow.
Our first attempt at a tracking test was in February 2007, in Louisa, Virginia, held by Richmond Dog Obedience Club. It was very disappointing. Magnum decided to stroll around looking at birds and cows and cars and never put his nose to the ground. He barely made it to the second leg and then just wandered off……”whistle!!”
At that point I was between quitting and never doing it again and being so close that I wanted to try one more time. The most aggravating part of it was when the track layer came out to show us the track Magnum still wouldn’t put his nose to ground but stared at the cows. Even though Magnum was not cooperating at all I decided it would be best to continue trying for a TD title.
The next tracking test we were accepted into was put on by the Durham Kennel Club in Durham, North Carolina, March 18, 2007. There were seven entries. I was hoping to draw Track 2; however, like my first test I drew 3.
It was cool, partly sunny and moderately windy. The ground was wet from rain the day before which kept the scent close to the ground.
The first two dogs passed without any trouble and about halfway through the 2nd dog I went to get Magnum because I didn’t want him to get too excited and not know what he was supposed to do which might have been the problem the first time he tried a test. I double checked his harness and lead to make sure I wasn’t doing anything new that might confuse him.
When I got to the start flag Magnum delayed then took a few forward steps, circled a couple of small circles but when I gave a second command of “Go Find It” he got with the program and pulled into the harness heading into the right direction. When he did that I realized the rest would be easy just like in practice. And it was because afterwards when they gave me the actual TD plague with a map on it there was a straight line where the track was and a dotted line were Magnum tracked which was almost exactly on the straight line. It also showed that Magnum completed his 450 yard track in 9 minutes! It was a real rush to grab the glove and wave it to the judges.
When Magnum is doing what he is supposed to I really enjoy tracking with him. Its fun to watch him and it’s just like I’m taking a walk with my dog without having to worry about anything else.