Tracking Dogs at Sweetbay

Tracking is the sport form of search and rescue work. To earn a basic tracking title (TD) the dog must follow a person’s scent that’s roughly half an hour old. That person is a stranger to the dog, and he walks a predetermined course that’s nearly a third of a mile in length, making turns going this way and that. At the end of this route, he leaves a glove that carries his scent.

The dog works in harness, and on a forty foot lead. His handler follows behind, and cannot influence or guide the dog in any way. This is the one sport where the dog must do the work. Good thing, too, because his nose is much better at identifying, sorting out, and following scent than his human companion’s.

There is a flag marking the start of the track, and a second flag thirty yards further on, to tell the handler the direction the track goes initially. After that, there is no help. No further flags, no clues at all. The handler’s only hope is that good canine nose, and his willingness to follow the scent.

A dog must prove he can track before he can enter a tracking test. He does this by passing what amounts to a tracking test (this is called certifying). Once he is certified, he is free to enter tests and try for that TD title. To pass, he must follow the track diligently without handler help, and must find the glove at the end.

There are approximately one hundred Newfoundlands who have ever earned tracking titles, beginning in the 1950’s. We began tracking our Sweetbay dogs in the late 1970’s. Nearly half of the total number of TD Newfoundlands are Sweetbay dogs, an amazing percentage. Working drive and scenting ability are genetic in origin, so perhaps it is not so surprising. These are cherished traits, and we have intensified them in our breeding program from the very first litter.

In case you are wondering what the titles are before and after the dogs’ names, click here.

If you are interested in teaching your dog to track, click here for the perfect book.


The following Sweetbay Newfoundlands have earned the AKC title Tracking Dog. The names in parenthesis are their delighted owners who had the pleasure of sharing this sport with their special dogs.

T.D. Newfoundlands

Sweetbay’s Albert CD TD WD DD, OFA NF-4815 (Patti Pigeon)

Sweetbay’s Ashlea CDX TD, OFA NF-3884, EL29 (Becky Cieniewicz)

Sweetbay’s Asia AmCanCD TD WD DD, OFA NF-3850 (Patricia Aires)

Sweetbay’s Bailey UDT CanUD WRD DD (Judi and Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Barry CD TD DD WD, OFA NF-4726, EL-205 (Maureen McCord)

VN ChSweetbay’s Bonne Amie CDX CanCD TD WRD DD, OFA NF-826 (Pam Mohr)

Sweetbay’s Bosco CDX TDX OA, OFA NF-3881, EL529 (Ann Dunnigan)

Sweetbay’s Briare AmCanCDX TD WRD DD, OFA NF-3845 (Lee Udelsman)

WA Sweetbays Caspian CDX BN RE TD NAP NJP WD-1 WRD-5 DD-1 DDX-2, OFA NF-11317, EL-4881(Terri Desnica)

Sweetbay’s Charlotte AmCanCD TDX CanTD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA NF-3021 (Sharon & Michael Marcus)

Sweetbay’s Charlotte O’Hara CD TD CanTDX WD (Claudia Aufhauser)

Sweetbay’s Cheechako AmCanCDX TD WD TDD, OFA NF-4603, EL173 (Daniel Sohn)

Sweetbay’s Chelsea UDT CanUD WRD DD, OFA NF-1104 (Cheryl Dondino)

Sweetbay’s Cimarron CD TD WD, OFA NF-5789, EL608 (Lois Apfel)

Sweetbay’s Clio TD (Peggy Knight)

Sweetbay’s Coventry AmCanUDT AmCanWRD TDD, OFA NF-2182, EL92 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Cutter AmCanCD AmCanTD NA WD AmCanDD, OFA NF-5354 (Frosti Lange)

Sweetbay’s Darby AmCanCD RE TD WD AmCanDD, OFA NF-6811, EL-1205 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Darwin CD TD WD, OFA NF-5772 (Julie Daniel)

Sweetbay’s Eliot AmCanCD TD WRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-2969 (Mike Walthers)

Sweetbay’s Emmaline TD WD DD, OFA EL-746 (Brad & Jill Wall)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Erin AmCanCDX TD WRD DD, OFA NF-1936 (Mel Wunderlich)

Sweetbay’s Esme AmCanCD TD WRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-7215, EL-1456 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Fairchild CD TD DD, OFA NF-3017 (Kathy Sylvia)

Sweetbay’s Fiona AmCanCD RE TD WRD AmCanDD, OFA EL-1924 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

OTCh Sweetbay’s Gretl TD (Nanette Wiesner)

WA Sweetbay’s Gusto UDT WRDX TDD OA OAJ (VCD2), OFA NF-7523 (Ann Dunnigan)

Sweetbay’s Harrier AmCanCDX TD WRD CanWRDX DD, OFA NF-4274 (Mary Ellen Thien)

VN AmCanCh Sweetbay’s Harmony UDT CanCDX CanTD WRD DD, OFA NF-1824 (Cheryl Dondino)

Sweetbay’s Hara CD U-CD RAE TD, OFA NF-8306, EL-2270 (Dan Klotz)

VN AmCanCh Sweetbay’s Jason AmCanCD AmCanTD WRD DD, OFA NF-1379 (Pam Mohr)

Sweetbay’s Jefferson TD WD (Art Hafdelin & Marilyn Wilson)

Sweetbay’s Jesca CDX RE TD, OFA NF-10489, EL-4115 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

VN Ch Sweetbay’s Josie CD TD WRD DD (Gaby Cohen)

Sweetbay’s Keaton TD, OFA NF-7095, EL-1370 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Kenzie TD (Kristi Kiaser)

Sweetbay’s Kestrel CD TD WRD, OFA NF-633 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Kira UDT CanCD WD CanWRD, OFA NF-3451 (Linda Rand)

Sweetbay’s Lea CD TD NJC, OFA NF-6506, EL-1005 (Barbara Adams & Jim Pushnik)

Sweetbay’s Lenox AmCanTD, OFA EL-1866 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Ch Sweetbay’s Leonine Knight AmCanCD AmCanTD WRD, OFA NF-632 (Patricia Aires)

Sweetbay’s MacArthur AmCanUDT WRD DD, OFA NF-2893 (Lee Udelsman)

Sweetbay’s McKenna AmCanCDX TD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA EL-602 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

CanCh Sweetbay’s Meara CD CanCDX AmCanTD WD AmCanDD, OFA NF-2899 (Bonnie Fergusson)

Sweetbay’s Meghan TD WD DD (Cheryl Dondino)

Sweetbay’s Neela CD RN TD CSL1-F CSL1-R CSL2-S OFA NF-10760, EL-4385 (Lois Apfel)

Sweetbay’s Nicholas TD WD, OFA NF-4266 (Patti Dropping)

Sweetbay’s Noah CD TD WRD DD (Art Hafdelin & Marilyn Wilson)

Sweetbay’s Nova CD U-CD RAE TD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA NF-8113, EL2111 (Jean and Mark Ochsner)

Sweetbay’s Paisley AmCanCD AmCanTD AmCanWRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-4263 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Parmalee AmCanCD AmCanTD AmCanWRD TDD CanDD, OFA NF-5341 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s Rigel CD TD WRD DD, OFA NF-6511, EL-1011 - (Barbara Adams and Jim Pushnik)

Sweetbay’s Rio AmCanCDX AmCanTD AmCanWRD AmCanDD, OFA NF-3065, EL93 (Judi & Ellis Adler)

Sweetbay’s SaltyDog AmCanCD TD AmCanWRD TDD, OFA NF-3450, EL7 (Gaby Cohen)

Sweetbay’s Scout CD TD WRD DD, OFA NF-5140, EL323 (Marilyn Wilson & Art Hafdelin)

Sweetbay’s Seaworthy Gale CDX AmCanTD WRD, OFA NF-635 (Claire Carr)

Sweetbay’s Shadyn AmCanCD TD WRD CanWRDX DD, OFA NF-3336 (Byron Caine)

Sweetbay’s Sonnet CDX U-CDX RE UR01 TD WRD CanWRDX, OFA NF-8250, EL-2224 (Michael & Sharon Marcus)

Sweetbay’s Vivian CD RE TD TDD WRD OFA NF-10505, EL-4130 (Maria Rizzuto)


Roughly ten years ago, the American Kennel Club created an advanced version of the tracking test. Dogs who pass at this (TDX) level have accomplished the remarkable.

A TDX track covers more than half a mile in length. It can go in any direction, and may have all kinds of corners and curves. It is aged between three and five hours. The track must go over, under, around and through various obstacles, which are as varied and tough as the terrain allows. For instance, TDX tracks often go through barbed wire fences, down cliffs, over fallen logs, across streams and ditches, down concrete or dirt roads, through swamps, over rockfalls, and through thick brush and forests.

As if this wasn’t arduous enough, the track is deliberately contaminated at two places, by two humans walking across it more recently. This fresh scent crossing the older track scent will attract and waylay all but the most experienced and canny dog.

The tracklayer leaves four articles along the way: one at the beginning, one at the end, and the last two at different points somewhere in the middle. The dog must find all four articles. Only the last is a glove; the others can be anything of a personal nature, such as a cap, mitten, scarf, shoelace, wallet, headband, toothbrush or sock.

Only twelve Newfoundlands have earned the advanced TDX title. Five are Sweetbay dogs.

T.D.X. Newfoundlands

Sweetbay’s Bosco CDX TDX OA, OFA NF-3881, EL529 (Ann Dunnigan)

Sweetbay’s Charlotte AmCanCD TDX CanTD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA NF-3021 (Sharon & Michael Marcus)

SpCH Sweetbay’s Lyric CD TDX RE WRD OAP OJP OFP (VCD1) OAC EGC OJC TNE TGO WVO UAG1 CSL3-F CSL3-R CSL3-S CSL3-H, OFA-NF 7437, EL-1624 (Lois Apfel)

CanCh Sweetbay’s Ramsey CanCD CanTDX WD, OFA NF-7253, EL-1479 (Ronna Webb)

Sweetbay’s Thor AmCanCD TDX (Dan Klotz)

Sweetbay’s WhereAway CDX TDX WRD (Mimi Long)

For more information about the Adlers’ dogs:

Sweetbay Newfoundlands
Judi & Ellis Adler
12320 SW Malloy
Sherwood OR 97140
(503) 682-0604


Sweetbay’s Charlotte AmCanCD TDX CanTD WRD CanWRDX TDD CanDD, OFA NF-3021

Charlotte is without peer among the many fine Sweetbay tracking dogs.  She taught owner Michael Marcus the sport, and it became his passion as well as hers.  She never lost her enthusiam for tracking.  And she never lost a glove.

Parma and

Sweetbay’s Parmalee AmCanCD AmCanTD AmCanWRD TDD CanDD, OFA NF-5341

It’s an incomparable thrill when your dog finds the glove in the tracking test.   Here Parma and onwer Judi Adler (center) celebrate their new TD title by posing with the judges.

Nine week old Grady has tracking in his genes. His enthusiasm and his ever-busy nose will serve him well in the tracking field. Owner Mark Ochsner gently restrains him while Judi Adler shows him there’s a cookie in that glove.

Puppy and

Who says you need green fields?  Dan Sohn tracks his ten week old Sweetbay puppy in the snows of Alaska.

A properly motivated tracking dog is driven to get to that glove. It’s self-motivation, a hunger to seek out and locate the prey. Sweetbay dogs come by their motivation genetically, and it’s all an owner can do to keep up. Tension is applied to the line to slow the dog to a manageable pace.

There’s no age limit to successful tracking. Sweetbay puppies have the skills, the energy, and the enthusiasm, and they find this sport irresistible. Andrew Nelson is hard put to keep up with young Sam as they charge off down the track.

This is what tracking looks like to the human. Huge field. No clues. Plus some guy behind you who knows where that article is, making you feel even more stupid. How on earth can you ever find the article that’s hidden out there somewhere? But to a Sweetbay dog, the field is heavy with clues, and his nose will lead him to the treasure with precision. Kathy Robbins finds she can rely on Higgins to get her there reliably. Higgins finds he can rely on Kathy to trust him and to let him do the work without interference. And that is the essence of great tracking.

Brad Wall’s Emma is a determined tracker. So is Brad. Together, they make an unbeatable team. Here, at a tracking workshop in Seattle, they show the concentration and eagerness that mark their performances, as they set off toward the start flag. Neither is at all distracted by the spectators mere feet behind them. They have a job to do and both are keen to get to it. Now: let’s find that glove!

Some tracking dogs are all speed, expending great amounts of energy charging about. Others are more methodical, working quietly down the track. It’s a matter of nature, not training, and a handler is wise to let his dog use his natural rhythm when tracking. Sonja Carter discovered the sport of tracking relatively late in her dog-training career, but Truman was such a natural that she was quickly hooked. They track in all weathers and over all kinds of terrain. Occasionally it’s even nice, smooth, glossy green grass like this!

Tracking is exhilarating. But it’s impossible to convey that excitement when you photograph the dogs who participate. All the camera sees is a dog walking through a field. Where’s the joy? Where’s the action? Well, just look at Barbara Adams’ face as she and Rigel accompany their judges off the field. Rigel has just passed, on his first try at a TD, with an amazing performance in a very difficult test. And those six minutes in that field will never be forgotten.