Tracking Champion
T.CH Bossface Mackenzie ‘Kenzie’

Tracking Champion was not where I saw Kenzie as a 9 week old pup. Tracking - what is tracking?? The plan was to give obedience trialling a go.  Well, lots of things in life don’t go to plan. Injury and outside people influences during her second fear period changed a happy-go-lucky puppy in her happy world to a pup that saw the world as a fairly scary place, and nothing was changing her opinion of that world at the time.

As a 13 month old pup Kenzie backed into a metal stake, lacerating 1 of 2 arteries and 4 of the 5 flexor tendons leading to her right hind foot.  Luckily she was found before a fatal haemorrhage occurred.  Emergency surgery in the middle of the night (of course, she had just eaten), 6 weeks of immobilization, leg in plaster and crated to stop movement of the leg – and only allowed out for toileting and on a lead! All up nearly 3 months to full recovery.  Not bad I guess considering the vet prognosis was basically all bad the night of the injury.

So scary world meant no obedience trialling, despite a lot of work to try and give it a go!  Next plan?  All Kenzie wanted to do after this was go for a walk with her nose to the ground.  Can we put this to use?  March 2013, and with some great assistance from a few of the tracking handlers Kenzie started tracking training where she learnt to put her nose to good use and track.  In May 2013 she entered her first tracking trial for an Excellent Pass at a T1.

So tracking was Kenzie’s thing.  She still saw a lot of the world and its people as scary, so with the help of an amazing dog behaviourist at the end of 2014 we went to work making the world a happy place for Kenzie. This did wonders for her confidence, and suddenly Tracking Champion looked possible because the track layers no longer scared her while hiding in the bush.

The only real disruption to Kenzie’s tracking were the Brahman bulls on the Mackay tracking ground, the only place she never had success.  Bulls milling around the start flag and coming up to her as she was to start; bulls stampeding across the start as we were 5 minutes from starting; and finally the bulls that slept along the first leg of the track and covered the track with bull pee and poo…. total sensory overload for her.  Through this, then about 600m along this track in a gully with swirling winds and the cross tracks.  Kenzie came back from the end of the tracking lead to a prefect obedience sit at my side and looked up at me, eyes pleading as if to say “It’s all too hard - can you help me???”

Kenzie gained her Tracking Champion title in Cairns with an Excellent Pass in a paddock with dry pasture so high all I and the judge could see for maybe half of the track was the tips of her ears as she fought her way through the grass. The only time she stopped was to indicate the articles and then the tracklayer also hiding in that long grass.  Trust your dog when tracking - there was nothing but grass and more grass on that track.

Kenzie ended the 2015 tracking season with a Pass at her first attempt on a Track and Search track 1, so I have high hopes for her doing well in this next level of tracking.