Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tracking

**Many of you seemed interested in Nose Work. I'll post tomorrow with more information and links. It is a lot of fun!**

I remember reading about KB's lab K, and how KB reads her so well she can distinguish when K picks up the scent of a bear versus another animal. I'm slowly learning with my Kona Girl.

Kona started her run as a bag of nerves. She whined whenever I stopped and held her tail low. I'm getting better at disconnecting myself from Kona when she's like this as there often isn't much I can do to help. Often, simply continuing to run helps settle her nerves. I understand how that works.
At our halfway point, I hooked Kona to her long line. She spent the first few minutes nervously looking back at me as she pulled on her 30 foot leash. It wasn't long before that tail started to relax and Kona started to explore.

Kona truly becomes a different dog when she has room to romp and check things out. She bounded through foxtails, sniffed the air, and peed on coyote scat. Just as I daydreamed about having a reliable Kona who would run freely off leash, Kona buried her head into a scent.

She then took off on a mission. I knew from her first step out of the bushes that she found a scent trail. That girl ran—fast. She darted from one side of the fire road to the other. She spun around on her heels and back tracked ten feet before whirling around and taking off full speed in the other direction, all with her snout glued to the ground.

Mule deer. I knew it as soon as she took off. I looked for tracks to confirm my instinct, but the thin layer of surface sand didn't show any imprints. After another five minutes, the trail became softer and the tracks emerged. Bingo!

Kona continued to follow the tracks. When we reached the point where the deer left the ridge, Kona stopped and looked back from where we came, almost anticipating the emergence of one of those invisible animals.
I knew Kona smelled deer because of how quickly and enthusiastically she moved. It was as though she hadn't eaten for weeks and now was her chance to feast on big game. When Kona comes across the tracks or scat of a coyote, she moves much more deliberately, will often pee, and seems uninterested in pursuing the tracks.

Then there are times when Kona freezes and sniffs the air as she moves cautiously through a section of trail. I don't know if Kona's not sure what she smells during those times, or if she smells something that makes her nervous.

As we finished our run, Kona panted with a smile on her face. No doubt she had a harder workout than normal and tired her brain along with her body. I panted and smiled with her.

7 comments:

Barb said...

I'm glad you have Kona's nose with you as you run in this wilderness area. Just as KB's K warns her about impending encounters or wildlife nearby, your Kona is a good safeguard for you. I think you're learning the skill of reading her signals. The two of you are becoming a team.

Stella said...

It sounds as if you and Kona had a very good, successful run today.

Stella and I live, and walk in town. So no exotica crosses our path. For Stella the best of the best for sniffing is an old pickup that looks like it belongs on the farm. How she loves smelling those! She even stands up and sniffs the bed of the truck. I wonder what she would do if she ran into scents like Kona does.

Cheers,
Jo and Stella

Priscilla said...

It's so great to know what your dog is following, knowing her attitude, and what she is interested in and not interested in.
I'm glad both of you had a good run today :)

Sara said...

How fun for Kona. I think dogs really need to spend a good amount of time each day just smelling the world, and if they're lucky, smelling the world outside their own backyard.

Kona is a lucky girl.

Sam said...

Ah, yeah, our 20' leash has done wonders in the Confidence Department for Marge. She, too, transforms in to someone else when she's on it. I wonder why that is - my best theory was that she has more room to get away from something potentially scary and doesn't feel as limited. Who knows?

Kathy said...

How cool for Kona to be able to use her senses like she gets to out on her walks, and how cool she can find deer, my dogs would be so happy!

KB said...

Isn't it amazing how a dog's whole body changes when she hits an exciting scent? I'm glad that you were able to figure out what she was after... nothing scary but something that could lead her on a very long chase if she were loose.

I'm so glad that Kona felt better by the end of the run after starting so nervous.