Coaching Works! 1:1 and Group Coaching for Tracking Enthusiasts is catching on

Congratulations to Michelle Armitage and Pamela Burns on their new Tracking Champions, English Springer “TCH Cameron” and Wirehaired Dachshund “TCH Lieder!” If you check out my public Spiritdance Tracking Facebook page you’ll see their reports from this past weekend as they each passed their final title – the Urban Tracking Dog Excellent test – for their CKC Tracking Champion honour. These teams came to me with a lot of experience and three titles already earned. It was my great honour and privilege to work with them remotely over the winter and spring as their Coach – helping them be prepared for the performance of their tracking careers!

The UTDX is a difficult title: 3-5 hours old, up to one-half non-vegetated surface, in contaminated public settings like industrial parks, schools or college grounds. The dogs must find the track and three articles along the way, sorting out the competing scents. The handlers must read their dogs, hold up their end, and trust their canine partners. It is the ultimate in teamwork and trust and a very intense test. Many try and don’t pass. In part, understanding the urban environment is a challenge in itself.

I love urban tracking! I love tracking! As a judge for all levels, I am always thrilled when asked to plot and judge tests. Seeing dogs pass is always a joy. As a participant, I love to train my own dogs. And as an instructor and coach, I love to be part of the journey with so many talented teams. I always make sure to tell each team that THEY put in the work. A coach can coach away, but if the client doesn’t put in the work, the results and outcomes won’t be there.

I have been teaching tracking since 1995 and have had the ongoing personal rewards of seeing my students / friends enjoy success and become independent over time as they become passionate and knowledgeable in their own right. Today I see many of my original students still involved in tracking as participants and organizers, including here in Alberta where I’ve been teaching since 2008.

Since starting online coaching – the first in Canada for tracking, focused on CKC rules – I have had the honour of coaching many teams including Beginners to tracking, people stuck with their progress on TDX, and beginners to urban tracking. I’ve seen these teams go on to be successful at tests in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC! Teams I have not worked with IN PERSON but who I’ve coached online, viewing videos and providing ongoing lesson support and training.

These two UTDXs are the highest titles I have ‘coached!’ I am so grateful to both Michelle and Pamela for sharing how I contributed to this final title. Often the coach is the “person behind the scenes” when teams achieve their goals (and that’s ok!). I am grateful in this case because by sharing that we worked together, it shows everyone that COACHING WORKS! 

And let’s be sure to acknowledge that no test is successful without a great judge plotting great tracks, and tracklayers offering their stinky feet! I am even more thrilled that both Michelle and Pamela passed under Marie P Babin, who I consider one of my mentors.

Let’s be clear. They did it. They put in the work. They dedicated the time and miles to achieve this honour of achieving a Tracking Championship. A coach is someone who contributes along the way, helping people meet their goals. It is an investment in yourself.

To learn more about what coaching is you can visit my coaching website – www.spiritdancelifecoaching.ca . And to find out more about my coaching for trackers, please visit my new business website, www.spiritdancetracking.ca 

I am working on a Spiritdance Tracking book, specifically on Urban Tracking. I believe in my methods and have been excited to share them with my clients. I’ve developed ideas and methods over 30 years in tracking that I’ve been able to refine over the past two years – seeing things come together as my students have been progressing rapidly and enjoying their tracking experiences.

In the meantime I continue to give lessons and tracking workshops in person. If you are interested in Coaching – please let me know. Many people need that extra boost or some new tools in the toolbox, and a lot of people have no access to tracking instruction at all.

GO CANADA! Through coaching, I’ve seen people come together and share from east to west, in the online classroom. Tracking is a small community and my goal is to inspire, motivate and encourage trackers at all levels, so that they love the sport and enjoy success – achieving their goals!

Thank you to everyone who has invited me to be part of your journey. I look forward to growing my Coaching over the years to come – and to sharing my methods in my book!

Congratulations to the new TCHs! Thank you for the honour of working with you, and thanks to all of my past and current clients, students and friends.

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Learning to read my new pup & link to tracking test photo album!

Over on the Training Micah blog, I just posted an article about our track today! If you are interested in WHAT we look for when we follow our tracking dogs, you may find this interesting. I chose some stills from the video of her track and put together slideshows of the things I pay attention to when I follow my dogs – and things I am trying to learn about Micah, since each dog is an individual. Micah just turned 7 months old today!

Last weekend I judged a big tracking test in Thunder Bay (you can view the photo album of the test HERE). I was daydreaming all weekend about the day I have Micah in UTDX. I have been working on her tracking, exposing her to all surfaces and ages, and decided that for her birthday I would try a 3 hour old UTDX track. She did a fantastic job! It is very exciting to start a new dog and I am especially feeling blessed with this new puppy. To view the entire post and learn more about how we learn to read our dogs, click HERE!

Catching Up: New Tracking Champion Ben!

I am a bit behind in announcing that Ben is my third CKC Tracking Champion, passing his UTDX in May.  Why does this matter to you? I bring my experiences – pass and fail, and training efforts – to my coaching and training. I am actively training all the time, including starting a new puppy this summer! I keep it real. This is a wonderful lifestyle and sport, and I love to share my passion with others, to help them enjoy it and achieve success.

Ben is now Tracking Champion Spiritdance Blackthorn Ben. He is pictured above posing at Hillcrest Park in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario where he passed his UTDX in May under judge Marie P Babin.

Jet ribbons
TCH Alta-Pete Jet. First Border Collie in Canada to earn this title.

Ben is the son of my TCH Alta-Pete Jet who was my first TCH in 2012. My second TCH was my GSD Caden von der KleinenWiese who passed his TDX and UTDX in 2015 (back to back no less, on the same day!).*

Ben passed his TD, UTD and TDX all in a row 2015 and 2016 with passes each time – Marie P Babin and Dawn Sanderson. He made it through a half-UTDX (is that like a half-marathon?) in fall 2016. I was so pleased with his performance for that first half, and found out what I had to work on, to fill the holes in our bucket. In May 2017, Ben passed UTDX the following spring under Marie P Babin.

He will go on to try for the new Master TCH as he’s only 5 (well, he will be 6 on July 21!)

*I have had a hard time publishing that I lost Caden to spine cancer last fall, very suddenly. He was only 8 years old. He can never be replaced, a great boy with a great heart, a great partner and friend. He taught me so much and I will always be grateful I had him in my life for what feels like too short a time. 

Caden ribbons
TCH Caden von der KleinWiese. My partner and friend. 2008-2016. A wonderful teacher, Caden was larger than life. A great dog with a great heart.