We all know that dogs have had a relationship with mankind for centuries. From delivering messages in war, search and rescue, hunting small and big game, herding livestock, etc.- purebreds were all created with purpose to serve humankind in some way or another. The Vikings were even buried with their beloved hunting dogs afterall.
When we think of tracking dogs we usually think of breeds like Bloodhounds, German Shepherds and even Labrador Retrievers. While some breeds are bred for these tracking abilities, most dogs will enjoy tracking of some kind regardless of size or breed. A dog’s nose is a whole lot better than ours that’s for sure. For serious tracking the most important attributes are a good work ethic, outgoing personality and stamina.
Even a Collie, or to quote Greg Simons, “Your Lassie Dog”, can conquer some pretty uncommon tasks. Jane was selected for me by her breeder for her outgoing personality. Growing up with us on our property Jane was encouraged to use her nose to our advantage. From playing search and rescue games, to finding my scent for competition obedience, to seeking out and blood trailing game. Over time I have created a relationship and bond with Jane that makes her want to work for me. Tracking wild game was no exception.
Jane has recovered a handful of game animals using her scent tracking abilities. Most notably she helped track and find a whitetail buck for a bow hunter on a youth hunt in 2018. Of all the things I have done with Jane (and there’s a long list) I have never seen her more excited than finding that deer for that young man. Her high pitched excited barking could propably be heard for miles out there in the Texas hill country. Jane forever holds a special place in that youth hunters heart and that means the world to me.
Last season Jane and I took our scent tracking to another level by giving a demonstration on a youth hunt. Without our knowledge a Javelina hide was drug on the ground and placed under a large tree. Wearing her safety hunter orange vest and a long line, Jane located the scent and tracked down the hide for the youth hunters to watch.
It is my belief that dogs are a natural bridge to encourage kids to learn beyond the basics and really find their passion. A kid, no matter how insecure, quiet, or outgoing, will talk and listen when there is a dog present. Not to mention it’s in her nature as a “Lassie dog” to love kids. As an ambassor for the Collie breed, I believe that showcasing their versatility and uncommon abilities is very important. Not only that but tracking demonstrations on hunts allows me to combine my two passions for getting outdoors and dog training.
Having Jane on these youth hunts meant the world to me and I am very thankful to Texas Youth Hunting Program North Texas Field Operations Coordinator/Huntmaster/Landowner Bob Barnette and the Barnette family for allowing Jane and I to show what Collies, and all dogs, are capable of.
If you are a Huntmaster or run youth hunts, consider a scent tracking demonstration with a little Collie dog and a fellow Huntmaster at the end of the lead!
Have nose, will travel.