Sandra and Grand Champion Hamish
Sandra and Grand Champion Hamish

YOUR STORY: Rockhampton Trio are Queensland's Top Dogs

The last Track and Search (T&S) trial held by Rockhampton Dog Obedience Club (RDOC) in 2014 was a highly successful one, netting veteran tracking competitors Sandra Pitcher and Annette Kirkwood the highest qualifications in a very challenging discipline.

Sandra Pitcher and her Labrador Retriever Hamish became Queensland's first team to qualify for their Grand Champion Track & Search (TSD10) title. At the same trial, Sandra and her Labrador Retriever Clancy qualified for their TSD9, the penultimate qualification in the Track and Search discipline. Annette Kirkwood and her Welsh Springer Dylan achieved their T&S Championship (TSD8).

At the higher levels, track and search tests are conducted urban environments including heavily trafficked recreational, commercial and industrial areas. This requires the dogs to track across various hard surfaces such as bitumen, concrete and gravel, in addition to coping with the distractions presented by other people, animals and traffic.

To attain his Grand Champion title, Hamish was required to successfully track the path of a person who had walked around a busy shopping centre undercover parking lot over three hours previously. Adding to the difficulty, this was done at night and included a section where the person was picked up by a car and let out 200m around a corner. Hamish also successfully ignored the distraction provided by the Police, who hailed the Judge and Steward to ask what such a suspicious-looking group were doing wandering around a parking lot at night. Clancy's track was performed during the day but included all the same challenges, excepting the presence of the Police.

Track and Search Champion Dylan successfully followed a four hour old path for a kilometre through a commercial complex parking lot at night. He was also required to pause in his tracking when directed by the Judge and resume after a two minute break.

Not content to rest on their laurels, Sandra and Annette compete with their dogs in a variety of other disciplines including Obedience, Rally Obedience and Agility. Hamish was awarded the "Vikings Open Dog of the Year" for Queensland, where the 6 highest qualifying scores for Open Obedience competitions throughout the year are used to identify the dog with the highest point score. Sandra and Clancy also compete in high level Obedience and both Hamish and Clancy gained Rally Obedience titles during 2014. Annette and Dylan compete in high level Obedience, while gaining Rally Obedience, Agility and Jumping titles. Annette also competes with her Irish Red and White Setter Regan, achieving their Track and Search (TSD3), Community Companion Dog, Rally Obedience and Jumping titles.

In addition to their own training and competition commitments, Annette and Sandra train a small but dedicated group of new tracking enthusiasts based at RDOC. The RDOC may be contacted on 0407269133 or via their website

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