Devon got a much tougher track than Page did on Saturday night, but she's also way more experienced. Steve and I had a little miscommunication on where we were laying tracks, and this one got interesting for both Archie and Devon!
This track was 512 yards long with 39% non-veg and was aged right at 3 hours.
Devon did a great job on the start. She didn't circle numerous times on the first leg like she has been doing, so I was happy about that. At the edge of the building, she went left and then right. She investigated more right, but then came back to the line she was working and moved forward. I followed her, but thought it was odd to have a cross track right there. About the time her head came up again, Steve said I would be hearing a whistle. Apparently what I thought was a cross track was really the first turn to the right.
We came back and she easily locked in. The second turn took a little more time, since she really wanted to go everywhere but the sidewalk. She finally decided the sidewalk was the right place, and we tracked along with Devon checking out chalk along the way.
We were halfway along the building after the entrance way, when Steve said, "You missed the metal article." Great! Devon never misses metal articles! However, this article was off the track under a bush and right in line with a chalk mark. I remember clearly Devon checking out that chalk mark, and Steve thought the chalk pulled her away from the article. Ok, that made me feel a little better!
Devon nailed the angled turn to the non-veg leg up to the next building, pulling only slightly right. You'll see a purple line through her track here, and this was a purposeful cross track. Steve's getting sneaky on us now! He's throwing articles, he's doing cross tracks! It's all great proofing for Devon, and I'm fortunate to have such an experienced tracklayer!
On this sixth leg, Devon decided to track along the sidewalk when the track was really in the grass along the sidewalk. It was dark at this point, and there were very few lights and they were on the far side of the parking lot. Devon again tracked right by an article, this time a plastic article with lots of holes. It likely doesn't hold scent as well as other types of articles, and it was orange and hard to see. Of course, had Devon been on the track, she would have tripped over it! Being 3 ft. off the track made a huge difference for this article, and I can now see how articles are missed in tests. It confirmed we need to work more on small plastic hard to see articles.
But the adventure wasn't over yet! As Devon tracked past the end of the building, you can see an orange line that hugs her track. This was the track I laid for Archie that we had already run. It was about 15 yards from Devon's track, and this was a tough thing for her to work out. Of course, Archie had the same challenge, and he did it very well.
As we got to the driveway and neared the non-veg turn, I kept hearing a tinkling sound that my mind identified as metal tags on a dog's collar. Sure enough, a guy with a huge Sibe came walking around the next building, about to cross our track. I held Devon up and waited. He stopped and watched us. Steve told me to keep tracking, that it was good distraction, and that he would run interference for me. That made me SO MUCH more comfortable.
I told Devon to get back to work and to track, and the guy realized we had a working dog. Steve went up and told him what we were doing and he was really interested. He decided to watch and to tell us how great a tracker his dog was. He then asked if Devon was a retriever and if she was a girl. Steve said yes. At that point the guy said he'd let us get back to work and he'd go home. I'm thinking his boy was intact, and he was worried his dog would like Devon a little too much! If so, I'm glad he left!
During this conversation, Devon did a lovely job of finding her track at the non-veg turn and getting right back to work, ignoring the guy and his dog. She worked the last turn and made quick work of the last leg, finding her final article.
All in all this was a good track for Devon. The two things Steve noted were the missed plastic article and the nearly missed first turn. We still have work to do, but I felt pretty good about this track.