My kids left the gate open yesterday afternoon and my dogs ran off. I figured that they would come back in a couple of hours and its a holiday weekend so the dog catcher has the day off I'm sure. Besides, one of them is half coyote so I figured that she was just out chasing rabbits. By the time that I came home from work today (yes I had to work on Labor Day) they were still not home. I drove around the the back roads to see if I could spot them and had no luck. I went home for a while and then decided to go track them.
Its not every day that I get to go out a get some tracking practice. I figured that the most likely place to start was the scrub forest behind the house so I set out to find some spore. I moved about halfway up the hill and came to a fence line. I systematically checked the fence for signs of a crossing and eventually located the spore. I immediately identified it as my two dogs primarily from the first set of prints. The bigger of the two dogs has a lot of hair between her paws and she has a limp on the rear right leg. I followed their tracks for a while and they seemed to be just curiously checking everything out and moving randomly around with no purpose. I then came to a spore separation point and decided to follow the bigger dog. The bigger dog is the mother and I knew that the other would not stray too far. I also figured that she was easier to follow and her tracks were more identifiable. After the spore separation point there was evidence of a "shotgun start" they were not wandering they were hunting. I did not find and carcass so they must have lost their prey. The tracks came back together and headed out deep into the forest on a deer run. I had guessed that they wandered out on the deer run and that they would be gone for a couple days. I headed back home and decided to stop with a great view of the valley to quickly reflect back on the event. This is what I have found.
1) My dogs seem to work well as a team but the big ones limp cost them a meal.
2) Family pets are easier to track than wild animals.
3) Pets are predictable.
4) Every track has a story to tell and the better you know the quarry the easier it is to follow.
5) Reading sign and spore is just like reading a book but you have to learn the written language first.
6) Never give up!
After my reflection I headed back to the house to find that the dogs returned home in my short absence. Either they knew that I was on their tail and decided to go home, or they just couldn't get a meal this time out. In any event if I had stayed on the tracks I would have found that they were still in the area and I might have found or at least spotted them before they went home.
I think that we are going to have to leave the gate open more often that was good training. I don't know if this does anybody any good but I thought that I would share the experience.
I hope that you all had a good labor day.