FIRST VST COCKER SPANIEL
The first cocker to earn a VST (variable surface tracking) title was
CH Kapewood’s Con Man CD, TD, VST, OA, AXJ.
Conner owned and handled by Carolee Douglas earned this title on October 17, 2010 at the University of New Mexico campus.
Variable surface tracking tests require the dog to follow human scent while adapting to changing scenting conditions.
The dog must track on at least 3 different surfaces including 2 which are devoid of vegetation, such as asphalt, concrete, gravel, sand or mulch. The scent of the track is between 3 hours and 5 hours old. The dog must find 4 articles (one leather, one plastic, one metal and one fabric). The track must include at least 4 turns with one turn being a 90 degree turn on an area devoid of vegetation for 30 yards on either side of the turn.
The track is laid utilizing buildings and the diverse scenting conditions created by being in close proximity to such buildings. Tracks can also include other structures such as fences, breezeways, ramps, stairs, bridges, roofed parking garages and courtyards.
The intent of the Variable Surface Tracking stresses that dogs will be able to handle the diffusion of scent created by these structures. Many VST tests are held on college campuses.
A dog that earns all three tracking titles – TD, TDX and VST will become a Champion Tracker and can use the letters CT preceding the name of the dog.
Due to their background as hunting dogs, expected to find game through their sense of smell, Cockers are naturals at the sport of tracking. In tracking, a dog must follow the path walked by the tracklayer anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours before, depending on the level of the track. There are 3 titles offered by AKC, in increasing order of difficulty.
- Tracking Dog – TD
- Tracking Dog Excellent – TDX
- Variable Surface Tracking – VST
The length of the tracks, type of cover, obstacles and age are different for each level and a dog, which earns all 3 titles, has the right to have CT (Champion Tracker) placed before its name.
A Beginner’s Guide to Tracking is available on the AKC website.