Seven individual dogs were entered into the first NATC Blood Tracking Test, which took place at Clymer in Chautauqua County, New York on September 3, 2001. Most of the participants elected to enter their dogs in an unofficial 500-meter test, which is half the distance to the official DTK Test. There were five dogs entered in the 500-meter test. Larry Gohlke bravely entered his two dogs for unofficial 1000-meter test lines. As it worked out Chief Judge Ransleben was sufficiently impressed with the work of one of these dogs, FC Czar v Moosbach-Zuzelek, to give him the official title SchwhK, Prize III (NATC).
The 1000-meter lines were run at a different place and at different times of day than the 500-meter lines. There were impressive performances in both the 500-meter and the 1000-meter categories, but the conditions were so different in the two test formats that it makes the most sense to evaluate each independently of the other.
The 1000-meter lines were both run on the hunting Revier of Duane Bush, which had a very heavy concentration of whitetail deer. Gohlke's 15 month old male Czar was the first dog to be tested and he tracked his line at 9:12 A.M., just after deer had moved out of the fields, across the blood line and into their bedding areas in the deep woods. Hot lines gave Czar some trouble, but there were also times when the dog was correct and the handler did not believe him. This was not a team that had worked together long enough to reach a high level of intuitive cooperation. This simply takes time. Larry is an experienced handler who had found well over 100 wounded deer with his renowned Missy. Judges Ransleben, Hamilton and John Jeanneney gave Czar a Prize III, (2,2,3) which became official. All the judges were aware that the potential was there to find many deer and also earn higher test scores.
Czar’s line took a long time, and Larry graciously suggested that the judges depart from the planned schedule and turn immediately to the 500-meter lines. He wanted to make sure that all handlers had a chance to test their dogs before darkness. As a result we did not return to the second 1000-meter line until twilight was settling in. This time Larry was handling FC Ulrika von Moosbach-Zuzelek (Lolly). Lolly started very well but soon ran into the same hotline problems that her son Czar had encountered. Now the deer were moving out of their bedding areas in the woods to feed in surrounding fields. The clouds of fresh deer scent on the 20-hour blood line finally broke Lolly’s concentration entirely and she did not receive a passing score.
Both Czar and Lolly worked under conditions of major distraction that were not equaled on any of the 500-meter lines.
The five 500 meter tests revealed some outstanding dogs who passed with high scores. The two Prize I dogs, Patt Nance’s FC Marta v Dorndorf (4,4,3) and Mary Ellen Jones’ FC Qua-Linea Achates Tehuti (4,3,4) certainly had the potential to be Prize I dogs at 1000 meters as well. The 500-meter lines were laid out in a State Forest about five miles from Duane’s Revier. Deer were present, but certainly were less numerous than at Duane’s, and most test lines were run at a time of day when the deer were bedded and still. However, the cover was often very dense with fallen trees, steep banks, which created plenty of obstacles to validate the DTK standard for ground clearance.
On the unofficial lines the judges were rotated so that all the new NATC judges present had an opportunity to work with Chief Judge Ransleben. Those who had an opportunity all in one day to handle a dog and also judge had an outstanding experience. Handling under the pressure of many observers can be an intimidating ordeal, but Judge Ransleben maintained a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Those whose dogs did well were warmly praised, but those whose dogs failed were not humiliated.
The two outstanding dogs were Huti, a standard smooth, and Marta, a standard longhair. Huti is a very strong young male of commanding nose and line sense; he earned a Prize I. As in AKC field trials he works swiftly and boldly.
Marta had a slower, more subdued style; Marta’s owner Patt Nance proved to be a gifted and disciplined handler who read her well. The teamwork and mutual confidence of Patt and Marta was memorable.
Mike Vincent’s Agata v Moosbach-Zuzelek took a Prize III. She showed good use of nose and natural line sense, but this was another case of dog and handler not yet being in sync. The coming season of natural tracking will forge that essential intuitive bond of the dog/human tracking team.
The blood tracking test event was successful because of good luck and especially because of good support. Labor Day weekend is a risky time for a blood tracking test. I had feared the all too common oppressive heat of late summer. Fortunately the weather was cool and woods were fairly moist. NATC was short on personnel to help in setting up the test. Most members were tied up with the Zuchtschau and natural den test events that took place 100 miles to the South at Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. The assistance of Duane Bush’s wife Ginny and his uncle Bob Bush was critical in getting the job done. The Bushs also lodged judges and handlers at their country cabin and fed them well. In every sense the Bush family was the generous host and patron of this event.
John Jeanneney, the Test Chairman