It was a complete and total BLAST! Toe did an excellent, excellent job and I was a good handler, staying out of Toe's way and I really did "just follow my dog"! Joelyn said both Toe and I did a stellar job.
Below is the judges map. The solid line is the track left by the track layer, the dotted line is Toe's progression of the track. It's pretty cool to see it after the fact since all you know is you were out in a wide open field....
There is a driver who takes you to the field, you get out and the judge points you to the starting flag. There is a second flag 30 yards further up the track to show which direction the track goes. After that you are alone with your dog in a wide open field.
The judge stays far behind and as long as your dog is working, sniffing and figuring out the track, they let you continue. When your dog obviously quits or takes a wrong path and doesn't back track or come back to find the true track, they blow a whistle to let you know it's over and you went off course.
The judges leave you to find the next dog in line, but the person who left your track stays with you so your dog can continue on and find his article - in this case, a glove.
The area marked where Toe went off track was a jogging path which people had recently used. We think the stronger scent got 'im and lured him off the track.
He hasn't experienced "cross tracks" (fresh tracks left by other people) before and it is an open space park. You gotta work what you have... no matter if a herd of deer wander across or a jogger cuts across your track leaving a fresher scent.
They use cross tracks in the TDX tests but not the TD tests.
The judges told me he was a really strong tracking dog, they thought I had it for sure. Both said I did nothing to fail my dog. It was simply his inexperience since he just started tracking this past Oct./Nov.
I gave him LOTS and LOTS of praise when we were back on course and he found his glove. I was very happy with my Little Toe! 9 dogs were entered and 2 dogs passed.... it was a fun day with beautiful weather!