Team training sunday brought about a wonderful and encouraging experience for Eme and I. We did our first sign off on our 12 plus hour old wilderness trail. It gave me the confidence in my trailing dog I had all along, it was just buried deep. This was the first time we had a long arduous trail, it was aged 16 hours and was 1.75 miles long. We ran it blind, the trail layer had supplied a GPS that my flanker had but even he didn’t know where it was.
We got a rough start on the road with the rock salt burning at her paw pads, so she took off quick barely casting and made a beeline across a very busy intersection of state route 97. She trailed along the pavement and gave me a brief head pop right alerting me to a turn that direction up ahead. This girl banged out the turn perfect and cut up and in behind the house, she worked the scent out that had collected there and in the field overnight and proceeded across and back to the road. We had 8 different changes in direction, multiple surface changes including asphalt to grass which is very difficult after that many hours and we had contamination to deal with at the start and in the middle sections. I think the point that astounded me the most is how true to the trail she was even after that long ageing. She dipped up and off the paths and milk road multiple times which is exactly what our subject did, and even checked out a few footsteps in the snow that were our subjects. Eme is a trailing dog, but she does not work off fringe scent, this girl is true to her trail and i noticed that we have very little problems to work out even during old trails. If she gets pulled into collecting scent she pops a negative within 20 feet and circles around until she has reacquired the trail and works it out, I’ve seen time and time again no matter the age that she will only reacquire within 20-30 feet of the actual footstep trail.
I never wanted a trailing dog, never even thought about what it would be like to train one, but i have to say that i have learned a ton. Eme has really taught me how to do it right, actually she has taught me how to trail! I didn’t make Eme a trailing dog, she made me a trailing dog handler i just made sure we did it right and set her up for success like any good handler does!!!!