AKC National Tracking Invitational
September 20th and 21st, 2003 - Asheville, NC

The excitement was building as people began arriving at the tracking test headquarters in the early morning fog on September 20th, 2003. With anticipation, they gathered around for the draw to determine what track each dog/handler team would have. While the draw took place at 9:15 a.m., we were unable to start the first track until 11:00 a.m. because the dense fog made it impossible for the tracklayers to lay the tracks. It was worth the wait, as the sun came out and the fog cleared to honor us with a gorgeous sun-filled day.

The first AKC National Tracking Invitational was a showcase for the 10 top champion tracking dogs in the country. Every dog and handler did a phenomenal job demonstrating the ability of the dog to detect odors so faint, their highly developed sense of smell to find lost humans or animals, and to detect drugs, bombs or other articles. Eight different breeds from ten states were entered, one travelling all the way from California to take part in the event.

Assisting were the best qualified tracklayers, judges, and volunteers from all over the country and abroad, including Diane Rooth from Alaska and Ginny Conway who came all the way from England. We couldn't have asked for a better group of people -- the camaraderie and fellowship was something to behold. From the first hello at the Welcome Reception on Friday night to the hugs and congratulations late Sunday afternoon.

We would be remiss if we did not mention the fabulous buffet banquet on Saturday night and the wonderful time had by all. We had the pleasure of having Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, faculty member from the University of Georgia, address the group and challenge them to scenting "experiments". With some of the top tracking enthusiasts in the country present, Dr. Brisbin hopes to get some additional insight into how dogs scent in different situations.

The exhibitors and canine companions deserve a standing ovation for their performance and it was an honor for the AKC to host such a fine event!

The award-winning participants in draw order (Follow these links for more information. You also need QuickTime to view the videos):

Team One - Saturday, September 20, 2003 Team Two - Sunday, September 21, 2003 The First AKC National Tracking Invitational was truly one to remember. The sport of tracking could not have been better represented. Congratulations!

This event was in memory of Ellie Boldt - a true tracking hero!