For the Love of Tracking

(submitted by Tony Montagano)

I am months behind writing this article, but finally, I am putting my thoughts down on paper. During Lincolnwood’s Tracking Test in the fall of 2001, a member who has relocated to Kentucky, Ralph Sneve, further influenced me.

This was a very successful Tracking Test, lead by David Szarzak, with Teri Szarzak’s help of course. My experience has been that if one person of a couple has volunteered for something, usually they both do the work. It was a pleasure laying track with some of our “regulars”, Herb Kaiser, Mary Ann Perlman, Georgia Cawley; and some longer term members who graciously came to our aid, Phil Casella and Janet Culotta. Being a tracklayer requires a 2 day commitment and in today’s hectic world, it’s hard to find the time; especially in inclement weather. But that’s what tracking is all about, letting your dog do the work, doing something that is natural to them, and in all types of weather. There were others who made our trial a success, either behind the scenes, or handling the food. Rosemary Minghzor lent her experience and handled much of the logistics. Lana Berger, LTC’s own concierge, handled the food on the day of the test. Teri Szarzak handled the food on the first day.

As far as the dogs, they did great! Three of four dogs earned their TD and two of four earned their TDX! It was a pleasure seeing such a high success rate.

At this trial I had the pleasure of laying two TD tracks with Ralph Sneve as the head judge. If you recall, day one of this test was a monsoon. Everyone was soaked to the bone; it didn’t seem to matter what equipment or rain gear you had. It just rained constantly and hard. A side note to remind you of how hard it rained. After day one on my drive home I passed our Lincolnwood field, it was under water. There was a car literally floating under the Railroad Bridge next to our field. People on the ground floor in the apartments across Dearlove were tossing out their water-damaged furniture. There were lanes on the Interstate closed because of flooding. Georgia Cawley’s basement was flooded and displayed her dedication to tracking by not letting that interfere with her track laying responsibilities. It was just plain wet. My two tracks were plotted later in the day so by this time the judges were tired, wet, and cold. Ralph Sneve was tired and limping a little, he had just plotted four TDX’s and we were in the middle of plotting the four TD’s. Heck I was just starting my job and Ralph is a few years older than I am; though he doesn’t look it (smile). After we put in the first and last TD’s, Ralph, Teri McCauley (the second judge), and I began the mile or so walk back. Walking in sinking mud, still raining, slipping and sliding on the hills; but you know what, I was having a great time! Having a good conversation and sharing experiences. About half way back, Ralph says to me, “you know Tony, this body has had it for the day.” I looked at him and saw that even as he said this, he couldn’t be happier, because he was doing what he loves. Ralph you inspired me that day, I hope to continue tracking as long as I am able and you are missed.