LEXINGTON, KY (October 10, 2004) The tragic events of September 11th brought the skills and heroics of search and rescue dogs to the attention of the American public, as these highly trained animals assisted in recovery efforts at “ground zero”. On Sunday, October 31st, dogs from across the country will participate in the competition form of canine search and rescue at the Kentucky Horse Park, in an event sponsored by the Lexington Kennel Club. Dogs will compete for Tracking Dog Excellent and Variable Surface Tracking titles.
In the Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) class, dogs are required to follow a human scent that has been laid down three to five hours earlier, over an 800-1,000 yard trail which includes five to seven directional changes and other human scents crossing over the trail.
The Variable Surface Tracking (VST) class requires dogs to track a human scent through “real world” urban settings, as well as through wilderness. Dogs must demonstrate their ability by following a three- to five-hour-old track which may take them down streets, through buildings and other areas devoid of vegetation.
All breeds are welcome to participate, and previous competitors have included the diminutive Maltese and rare Chinese Crested in addition to more traditional tracking breeds.
For nearly 70 years licensed tracking tests have been held in the United States. On the light side, dog tracking is considered a team sport, as a dog handler works as a team with his or her dog to exhibit a genuine understanding of the dog’s motivation and commitment to the task before him. The dog works for the sheer love of scenting in an event that is fun for the dogs, handlers and spectators.
On a far more serious note, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “Tracking events provide training for dogs and their handlers to meet some human needs for tracking and finding lost humans or other animals, as well as demonstrating the extremely high level of scent capability that dogs possess. The events allow dogs to demonstrate their natural ability to recognize and follow human scent.”
Several areas throughout the Kentucky Horse Park will be utilized for the tracking activities which begin at 9:00am and finish by 2:00pm. Winners in this AKC-certified event will receive TDX and VST titles as well as pewter julep cups.
To learn more about dog tracking, visit the AKC’s website at www.akc.org. For information about dog tracking at the Kentucky Horse Park, call the Lexington Kennel Club’s Billie Kovacs at 859-299-7184 or stop by their temporary headquarters in the horse show office at the park the day of the event.
Admission to the Kentucky Horse Park through October 31 is $14 for adults and $7 for children ages 7-12. Admission includes the dog tracking event and American Saddlebred Museum.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. The park is an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet that hosted 913,000 visitors and 80 special events and horse shows in 2003. The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington. The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.