2023 Tracking Clinics & Training Information for Participants

Online resources for participants in 2023 training!

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Donna Brinkworth – Tracking Bio
March 2023

Spiritdance Tracking focuses on working with dedicated teams wishing to achieve excellence.

Donna believes tracking is a discipline like any athletic endeavor that requires both physical and mental skills, routine, growth and mastery. She focuses on both ends of the tracking line using her methods and experience and her Professional Coach training designation to provide tailored training to her students.

She has put 24 CKC tracking titles on her own dogs – GSDs, Border Collies, and Rough Collies. Donna’s titles include 9 TDs, 7 TDXs, 5 UTDs and 3 UTDX dogs who are her three CKC Tracking Champions. In 2008 Donna became a CKC judge and has enjoyed judging all-levels tracking tests from the east to west coast of Canada. In 2014 Donna graduated as a Professional Coach, adding this skill to helping teams succeed.

Donna’s first exposure to tracking was a renowned SAR Bloodhound Nero in the 1980s through her work with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Conservation Officer Dave Kenney talked Donna into being a “victim” for Nero. She was able to see them train firsthand year ’round. This greatly impacted her love of natural tracking and enjoyment of winter tracking.

Donna started tracking with her German Shepherd Hawk TDX in 1989 after attending a tracking seminar with Glen Johnson, author of Tracking Dog and lessons with Thunder Bay judge Dawn Sanderson.

In 1995 after passing her third TDX, she was encouraged to teach locally and her business ‘Spiritdance Tracking’ was formed, in her hometown of Thunder Bay Ontario. She brought her passion for tracking and teaching to Alberta in 2008.

Donna is fortunate to have met and learned from many amazing trackers over the years, some who have been mentors and helped her to learn new skills. Donna’s mentors include her friend Dan Waters, a successful IGP competitor, winner of the IGP Nationals and a Canadian representative to the Worlds many times with dogs of his own breeding.

Dan introduced Donna to retired national head of training for the RCMP, John Blondin, also the RCMP’s breeding specialist for many years. Donna had the extreme good fortune to learn from John for almost three years with her great dog TCH Caden von der KleinenWiese TDX, UTDX, the only dog known to pass his TDX and UTDX back-to-back in one test, with a 45 minute break between tests in 2016.

Erich Kunzel of Calgary is one of Donna’s dear friends and mentor. Erich is a life member of the GSD Schutzhund Club of Calgary where he excelled in tracking, once with a perfect score of 100. He was a beloved CKC tracking judge for decades putting TDXs on all of his IGP dogs. Erich was also one of the original people who crafted the rules for CKC tracking. Erich’s generous sharing of his knowledge, training ideas and experiences has strongly influenced Donna’s views of judging and training.

Donna has always had SAR mentors who have greatly influenced her training and methods over the years. Since moving to Alberta, she has found opportunities to share her tracking ideas with SAR trainers from Manitoba to BC, working closely with many to learn and assist with tracking over the years.

Most recently Donna has added tracking wisdom from Jeff Schettler and Dick Staal to her toolkit. And it would be remiss to not mention the incredible benefits of being an instructor and judge, learning from fellow judges (shout outs to Marie-P Babin and Maureen Fielding), students, friends and test participants.

Above all her best teachers have always been her dogs! Dogs can teach us more about scent than any book or human expert, if we open our eyes to see what they are saying and to observe what they tell us on the track.

Mentor John Blondin wisely advised Donna years ago to ‘let your dogs speak for you.’ She continues to train, learn and grow as knowledge of scent science gives us new ideas for training and success. Donna is also an avid stockdog trainer with her Border Collies and had her own sheep for 10 years.

CLICK HERE for links and photos in a long-version bio!

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