Photographer A. J. Windless    
The Tracker
From the time Tecumseh was three months old I took him to the mountains with me. Because he was still such a little tike we didn't go very far, probably just a few hundred yards at first. As I watched him get all caught up in the sights and smells of the mountains it immediately became apparent to me that  if I didn't teach him to keep track of me, as he got older I would lose him. So I hid from him. When he was still young and insecure, and afraid to be left all alone in a strange place, that created a sense of urgency and propelled him to instantly look for me. Knowing that he could lose me at any moment motivated him to keep an eye on me and to stay close to me. It was interesting to watch him look for me and to watch that search evolve over time. At first he tried to find me with his eyes. It didn't take him very long to start sniffing the air to try to catch my scent. Eventually he learned to put his nose to the ground and to follow my trail, something he became very good at it. I remember reading in the newspaper about an escaped convict that they tracked with bloodhounds in the Grand Canyon Area. He confused the dogs by walking in circles so that they were unable to trail him. It was not so easy, however, for me to confuse Tecumseh. Once we were on a hike up in the Seattle area. We had walked about a mile all the way down to the beach and we were on our way back through a forest of giant evergreens when I noticed that Tecumseh was getting too far out in front of me and wasn't paying attention. So I turned around and ran about a hundred yards back down the trail from the direciton we had just come. Here I veered off the trail and headed uphill with the wind in my favor so he would not be able to catch my scent. I hid behind some bushes and watched as Tecumseh came sprinting down the trail at full speed. Even on a full sprint he knew the instant he had lost my scent. You could see him run about one leap past my last track, suddenly slam on his brakes, go back, put his nose down and follow my trail up the hill. I was astounded.  I had been over the entire trail twice already. Part of that trail I had run a third time and when I run my steps are six feet apart. Yet even on a full sprint Tecumseh knew immediately when he had lost the third trail. Wow, Tecumseh! What an amazing tracker! If I had taken him to Arizona, do you think he couold have found the escaped convict? I think he could have, even if he had started 10 years later. The criminal would be sitting in his home sipping on a coffee, long since having returned to a normal life. All of a sudden Tecumseh leads the authorities up to his doorstep. Completely caught off guard and in total disbelief the convict exclaims, "What is this?"
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