Tracking Max factor

By Laura Briggs

While some humans struggle to smell what lies metres away, German gun dog Max has sniffed his way to success.

Kerryn and Michael Buckley picked up the Weimaraner about five years ago at nine months old.

‘‘He was uncontrollable,’’ Mr Buckley said.

Five years on and Max is not only well mannered and obedient but has also passed the highest-ranked track and search event in Australia, claiming the track and search grand champion title.

Ms Buckley said since first joining the Shepparton & District Dog Obedience Club shortly after bringing Max home, he had competed in various events and progressed through each level of the track and search with ease.

‘‘So in a track and search test the track layer goes out, lays the track around the streets and then three to four hours later, the dog goes out and finds that person by following the scent,’’ she said.

Ms Buckley said in lower levels dogs could be given a number of articles with the person’s scent along the track, while in the higher tests, dogs were given only one article at the beginning and they must find the person who had travelled a certain distance using only that.

She said in higher tests not only did the articles given decreased but the distance between the dog and its track layer increased and some tests were even done at night.

Ms Buckley said Max’s recent achievement saw him complete the night test 10 at a Victorian event held in Wodonga.

During the event, she said Max followed the scent of his track layer who had travelled more than 1 km.

‘‘Part of the track there’s a car component where the track layer gets picked up in a car, they’re driven for about 200 metres, then they get out of the car to finish the track walking. So the dog also has to incorporate that into their tracking.

‘‘It’s amazing watching the dogs work and just seeing their ability to distinguish scents."

Ms Buckley said while most events were judged on time, the track and search events were mainly judged on deviation of the track and whether or not the dog was able to find the track layer.

While Max was able to successfully find his track layer in good time, Ms Buckley said he had gone on to hang up the leash and retire as a track and search dog.