On March 21st 2021 Jabula and I entered the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club’s official Schwiss Tracking test and competition – training up until that weekend had been a work of dedication and concentration and my hope was that Jabula and I would track us through to a 1st prize in the entered competition of a track 40 hours old and 1,000 meters long with all the twists and turns of a track crossing both well visited gravel roads and horse/bike-tracks through the woods.
I was beyond nervous, but as always I found strength and concentration in Jabula, and focused on him and set faith in our training, knowing that succes was fully possible – but as we all know, never ever a given!
Jabula covered pretty much all of the 20x20m starting area before reaching the spot where the deer had been “shot”, gave it a good snif and were off. He worked beautifully, marking the wound beds with a clear scrape of his front paw, earning himself his favourite treats, and working his way out and back through the “return”, across a gravel road and then – I paused him (much to the judges dismay as it turned out 🙂 – but I had a plan, and I was sticking with it, knowing exactly where we were on the track, knowing my dog, and knowing myself well enough to work how I work best, so I paused him, offered him water, and let him work again. Continuing on he kept at it, never wavering, across a rampart, and another turn, through small trees, turning back again, and reaching an opening towards another path and wind coming directly towards us. Another short water pause, and Jabula had his bearings again, turning up along a well trod double-path clearly used over the weekend by bikers, hikers, horses and dogs. As we were going up towards another open area Jabula and I were struggling to find out where the track was heading – Jabula was checking a lot to the right, some to the left, and a bit straight ahead, but coming back every time as the track was eluding him. We worked intensely like this for what seemed forever, but were probably only 2-5 minutes, when suddenly Jabulas nose hit home and he clearly found that the track had a sharp turn to the left, another 100-150 meters or so and he reached the leg of the deer – SUCCESS!!!
I was SO happy, SO relieved, and SO SO proud of my wonderful boy. And like that was not enough, both the tracker, the judge and the aspiring judge who joined us for this track, had only praise for our work (well, apart from my stopping him right on the track, but as you know, I had stuck to my plan 🙂 and told us that we had not taken one single step wrong the entire track, every bit of work we had done was exactly that – work, and working it out. We had done it! My goal with schwiss tracking reached and with bravour!!
On March 21st, 2021 Jabula and I earned 1st prize on an elite track, 1,000 meters long and 40 hours old. Thank you to judge Lars Erik Hansen and his team for this wonderful track!
So, the 1st prize was in the bag, and only thing left was now to also earn 1st place as “best 40 hour track of the day” and thereby also the “antler trophy” from the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club for 2021.
And we did!
Fabulous feeling, and an awesome win and an awesome prize, but like that was not enough either, we actually also won “best track of the day”, of all entered teams – RRs and other dogs alike.
I could not be prouder!