Welcome to the world of the Urban Tracking Judge!
Each of these maps represents a choice for a UTDX track at Red Deer College in Central Alberta. I’ve played around with all of them over the years. I know this area and they all work – no fences or barriers to worry about when you are ‘on the ground.’ One map is 615 m and another is 730 m, with the others all in-between.
A UTDX by the rules must meet these requirements:
- 600 – 750 metres
- 1/3 to 1/2 non-veg
- 3 – 5 hours old
- 5-7 turns both left and right and no acutes less than 45 degrees
- At least one 90 degree turn on a non-veg surface plotted so that the leg after the turn is at least 25 metres long before changing back to vegetated surface (or the track ends with the final article)
- Obstacles such as guardrails, stairs, open buildings (gazebos and breezeways) are permitted but it cannot enter a closed building
- 3 articles must be placed, with the first at 100 metres, the second somewhere between the first and last, and the third at the end. The first two can be cloth, metal, wood or plastic. The last article is always leather.
On each of these maps below, I have put a measuring line showing 100 metres to help you eye up leg length. Where tracks cross a road and are parallel on the other side, the minimum distance on these maps is 70 m and the maximum is 100, so none are connected by a short, 30 m leg (in which case, they cannot be parallel).
Remembering that scent works differently in an urban environment, things to think about are listed here – but most of these can’t truly be assessed until you are walking and plotting. Note – some judges like to plot up to two days in advance to allow scent to leave an area, in case they have walked in multiple directions. Frequently a judge will go look at an area and ask the tracklayer to stay put to prevent tracklayer scent from spreading too much:
- Cars moving scent up and down on roads
- Proximity to buildings that can loft scent or hold scent along the walls
- Scent refraction near trees and lightposts
- Scent spread on flat, non-veg surfaces like asphalt parking lots
- Curbs, bus stations, parking pay stations, building doorways and main entrances, sidewalks where scent might flow or be drawn away from the track
- Areas of heavy pedestrian traffic and areas of light or no pedestrian traffic
So – your assignment, Grasshopper, is to look at the blank map, and then the one I did with Caden (Option 1) as well as the other options. The total lengths are provided. There aren’t really any rights or wrongs, but the amount of non-veg will change, leg length will change, article placement will change, problem areas may be included or avoided, and turns may be easy or hard!
- I had a hard time deciding on where to put articles on Caden’s track (Option 1) so used 4! Which of the first three would you remove from his track today?
- Where would you put articles on the alternate maps?
- What type might you use where (cloth, wood, plastic, metal)?
- How are you making your decisions? Think – what might help the dog and handler team?
- What appeals to you? Don’t let the fact that I did one influence you. It might not be my favourite. I’ve done these others too over the years with Caden and my TCH Jet
- What positives do you see for each?
- Just because one is shorter – is it easier?
- These are all “5 turn” tracks but you could consider that meandering first leg to be two legs as well. Would you add another turn to improve the track (you can have 7 total)
- What questions would you have about the tracks? What would you look for on the ground?
- Other ideas you would consider? Why not print and play with the blank one!
Blank map with notes about features – click on a map to see it better, then use the back arrow to return
Option 1 – 730 metres
Option 2 – 615 metres
Option 3 – 630 metres
Option 4 – 635 metres
Option 5 – 645 metres
On the Ground views
To see Caden’s start on video, click here. This will show you the first two legs (not the greatest video but it works!). On this day, there were buses arriving filled with students for a band competition so the middle grass island area of the start was very contaminated. Of course, I had no idea when I laid the track, that this would happen.
After article one (sock), track turns left here. He is approaching the turn.
Leg 3, heading for article 2 – light switch
Leg 4, crossing road and median toward sportfield area
Article 3 – wood
Missing the portion leading to the parking lot – here he is after making his turn (I was too busy handling!)
Final article (remember, there should only be three, I used four, for training)
Have fun and let me know what you think of “You be the Tracking Judge!”