Jesse and Tyrone

March 2023

When Jess McArthur (Ludwig) adopted her puppy, Tyrone, through Paws for Love Dog Rescue Thunder Bay, she knew he was an awesome dog – but she didn’t know just how far his awesomeness would take him - especially when it came to trying out a new field of canine training: tracking.

“I didn’t know if Tyrone would be a good tracker, but I liked his qualities of persistent inquisitiveness and his interest in forming a connection. The family that fostered him did a great job in nurturing these qualities, so when he left with me, he was brave and willing to try out new things. His conformation was also good with no red flags.”

Although Tyrone’s first few tracking sessions were just “okay”, Jess persisted and when Tyrone was four months old, they participated in a tracking workshop. Tyrone started with all the other youngsters on short straight tracks, but by the end of the day they experimented with a longer track up a hill that included a turn at the end. He was fantastic! His nose was buried in the grass, focused on following the human odour and finding the cookies he knew his human kept dropping. He performed so well that the instructor encouraged Jess to continue his training and compete in the Canadian Kennel Club shows.

Jess started Tyrone on tracking training by creating short tracks (about six metres long) in the grass, and leaving treats along the track so that Tyrone would associate the dropped treats with her scent and the scent of disturbed vegetation. Overtime, the tracks got longer, more turns were added, and the distance between the treats was increased.

As Tyrone improved, Jess introduced more articles to the tracks - articles such as a dropped glove or a set of keys, that carried a human scent. Tyrone needed to recognize that these items were important and alert Jess when he found an article by stopping, lying down and barking.

“If I’ve done my job as a trainer and handler,” Jess explains, “the whole process is a fun game for both of us.”

There are many challenges when it comes to tracking. Some challenges are external, like changing wind directions; while others are internal, like learning how to read your dog. 
And then there are coyotes.

Last year, while out training, a coyote popped out on a track about thirty metres ahead of Tyrone and stole all of Tyrone’s hotdog treats and then heckled him from just beyond a thicket of cedar hedges.

“It was really difficult to win back Tyrone’s focus and finish the track, but we did it!” Jess smiles. “That experience went a long way to teaching me about Tyrone’s response to coyotes and what we can accomplish with patient persistence.”

After months of training, workshops and dog classes, Jess applied to the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) to register Tyrone for a Canine Companion Number (CCN) and to obtain a basic membership for herself. Mixed breed dogs can be registered for a CCN provided the owners supply the CKC with proof of neuter/spay and microchipping by an accredited company. The CCN enables mixed breed dogs to compete in CKC performance events.

Now that they have the CCN and membership from the CKC, Jess and Tyrone can apply for specific tests through a club that’s hosting a CKC event. But not all clubs host events that include mixed breed dogs, so they need to watch for that detail and ask questions when registering for an event.

At his first tracking event, Tyrone flew through it like a walk in the park.

For their tracking dog (TD) title, Tyrone and Jess completed a track that was approximately 430m long, including four turns and a leather glove at the end. The track was made about an hour beforehand and neither Jess or Tyrone saw the track being made. As a handler, Jess needed to be careful not to direct Tyrone at all during the test.

“It’s completely up to Tyrone’s nose and training,” Jess maintains. “He calls the shots. When he finds the article, he needs to indicate his find with his trained response: lie down with the article between his front legs, and bark.”

Jess admits that Tyrone seems to excel at whatever activity she offers him. Although tracking is his most public achievement, he’s also a great harness sport dog, which should come as no surprise given his husky heritage. She introduced harness sports (canicross, bike- and skijoring) to him last year but didn’t let him pull hard or for very long, as she didn’t want to damage immature bones and joints. Now that he’s matured, she isn’t holding him back and he’s instigating faster speeds and leaning into the harness. “This is really exciting if you’re tethered to him on your bike or skis!” Jess laughs. “He just might get a new nickname - Rocket Paws!”

Tyrone is also maturing in his obedience and teamwork skills. These are some of the skills that people who meet him take for granted, but involve a lot of consistent work - skills like waiting for attention, not jumping up, ignoring distractions and heeling quietly. These hidden skills are what keep them welcome in public places and allow them to do things like bikejor on a public trail because Jess trusts Tyrone to stay focused on the task. 

“It’s really important that people realize how much work is involved with molding and maintaining an awesome dog,” Jess says. “Regardless of a dog’s heritage, they can be taught how to be upstanding citizens and fierce competitors.” And as for a rescue dog …

“All of the dogs that pass through Paws for Love have the potential to do anything,” Jess says. “From being lovable house pets to competing or being working dogs. Regardless of whether your dog is a pure bred or a super mutt, they are all awesome. Find their passions, nurture their skills and enjoy where they lead you!”

Donna White is an accomplished author and Jubilee Medal winner for her volunteer work with World Vision. Visit her website at

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