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Monday, September 29, 2008

Blood tracking test without judge

We spent Sept 24-28 at the annual events organized by the North American Teckel Club. They included Blood Tracking Workshop held in Reading, PA, on September 24-25. Andy Bensing, NATC Judge, was the workshop organizer, and he did a super job. Andy provided classroom instruction and then field exercises focused on the preparation of blood lines, training and handling techniques, and GPS use for training and testing. John Jeanneney gave a presentation about tracking team psychology and real life blood tracking.

One of the highlights of the workshop was an exercise preparing for a “Tracking Test without Judge”. During such a test there are no judges observing each dog’s work. Small wooden markers are placed along the blood line and the dog is supposed to "indicate" them. The marker is scented with deer blood and a piece of raw deer hide, which is stapled to the wood.

Wooden markers were placed along the blood trail.

The dog is able to find the markers only if he works close to the line. The dog/handler team's work is evlauated by how many markers they can find and whether they can get to the end of the blood line where the deer hide is placed. This track is not marked in any other way so this exercise simulates a real tracking situation when a hunter does not know where a track of his wounded deer goes and has to rely on his tracking dog.

In the NATC exercise, the blood lines were 500 meters long and aged about 20 hours. Four ounces of blood were used to create a blood line (which is not a lot). There were two “wound beds” and two right angle turns.

John Jeanneney, Andy Bensing and Carrie Hamilton are shown here distributing deer blood into small bottles used for laying blood trails.

I watched two handler/dog teams work these "blind" lines, and in both cases I was very impressed with dogs and handlers' performance.

The first tracking team was Susie Gardner with Greta. Susie and her husband Jody run Buck'Eye Outfitters of Ohio, and Greta (Melodie von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who is just a year and a half old found 14 deer last fall in her first year of tracking. So Susie and Greta are not new to blood tracking, and they both have done really well on the artificial track.

Susie Gardner with Greta following a blood trail

Greta at the end of track

Greta is trotting to the truck after the successful blood tracking exercise

The second tracking team I watched included Patt Nance and Owl (FC Alpine Owl von Dorndorf TD BHP-3 SchwhKF). This is also an experienced team. Patt does AKC type of tracking with her dogs, and Owl has titles in both human tracking and blood tracking.

FC Alpine Owl von Dorndorf TD BHP-3 SchwhKF was all business during the blood tracking exercise.

Good boy Owl! Here he is chewing on a deer hide at the end of track.

All in all, quite a few dogs have done well and handlers enjoyed this new type of blood tracking training. We navigated through trails by using GPS, and this certainly reduced labor involved in laying tracks and marking trees. A big thank you to the NATC by providing this training opportunity!

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