We recently interviewed one of our Mantrailing dogs to ask for a real account of a trail from a dogs perspective. For confidentiality reasons (and to save handler embarrassment) we can't disclose who the handler of this dog is, but if you're reading this and know it's you, please get in touch with your Mantrailing Global instructor so that we can help you improve your handler skills.... Here's what they had to say when we spoke to them:
''First of all, i'm here to tell you that you are REALLY bad at keeping a secret. I watch you all morning being weird in the corner of the kitchen trying to quietly prep my food tubs. It really confuses me why you do this with your back to me 'out of sight' as if blocking my vision will stop me smelling the fact that you have just opened a can of sardines. I mean, seriously?! You're regularly spending your hard earned cash to teach me how to use my nose to sniff out people, yet here you are acting like I don't realise what you are doing...Who's the stupid one? It's not a secret!
You put my harness, line and pots into the car ready to go so I know we are going to Mantrailing today. One thing I really want to ask you is why do you always run around in a panic as we are about to get in the car and then look delighted when you find the sock you were wearing yesterday? I never see you happy to find socks around the house, in fact, it usually makes you angry. Yet for some reason on a Mantrailing day you always look happy to find a sock? And then to confuse me more you put it in a little bag for safe-keeping like it's really important or something?
We then arrive at Mantrailing after a morning of watching you being weird. It's my turn and I absolutely cant wait! You open the boot, pick up my harness and line and off we go to follow the instructor to our starting point. I'm so excited to get there that I could explode!...Oh no, wait, I actually do need to explode💩. Anyway, back to the task at hand. I watch you place my harness and line on the ground and I spot the person who I will be finding waiting to cheer me on (these types of starts are my favourite!). I'm about to do a sniff sweep of my start area and surprise, surprise, you forgot my reward pots. Again! Luckily my assistant is there who enjoys coming along to watch how fantastic I am, so they run back to collect them from the car for me.
You help me get changed into my official uniform and start my check of the area. My person shows me what is in those little pots, they're such a tease! Then calls my name in squeaky baby voices (which I love may I add) before running off. Ok, Now it's time for business.
You point at a bag with a glove in it (this glove must be really important too if they put theirs in a bag like your sock?), I take a whiff of it and await to hear my trail command. It's time! I pick the direction and dig deep, pulling into my harness and picking up speed to show you the way, then BAM! Just like that I glance around to see you tangled up in your longline, despite the fact I watched you take 5 minutes to get it ready and you haven't even walked 5 paces yet. I patiently wait and begin sniffing the air to gather some more information whilst I feel you frantically trying to sort out our line again. Second time lucky now I guess. I continue on and take a left to follow the scent up a bank, I turn the next corner and feel myself unable to move forwards as if I have a weight attached to me. I turn around to find out what's happening and find you on the floor after falling over another one of those invisible branches you say that grab your ankle. I'm running out of patience now so I just carry on anyway, which works to my advantage as it helps pull you back onto your feet to continue on our way. I get excited and speed up, telling you that the person we are looking for must be close now. I can hear you stomping your feet louder and louder as you try to slow down the pace, but there's just no stopping me now! To my absolute delight, I take another turn and find my person hiding in a bush. They reach for their pocket and pull out my pot then I relish the moment, flicking sardines all over my face...and theirs. What's even better than that? I get to do it all over again on a mini-trail, then get to strip off my uniform and walk back to the car naked whilst everyone tells me how amazing I am!
I'm still not really sure why you have to be attached to me when I go looking for people, but sometimes it is helpful to have the support when things get challenging I guess. My personal feedback for this trail for you would be that you could do with some more practice on this teamwork stuff. Please can you listen carefully to our instructors feedback as we have 2 trails left to go and I'd be grateful if you could at least stay on 2 feet for the next one.'' Before we ended the interview, we were also asked to include this small but important piece of information: ''Please stop forgetting to drop your scent article for my trailing pals. It's becoming a standing joke back at the cars.''