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The first cocker to earn a VST (variable surface tracking) title was
CH Kapewood's Con Man CD, TD, VST, OA, AXJ.
Conner owned and handled by Carolee Douglas earned this title on October 17, 2010 at the University of New Mexico campus.

Variable surface tracking tests require the dog to follow human scent while adapting to changing scenting conditions.

The dog must track on at least 3 different surfaces including 2 which are devoid of vegetation, such as asphalt, concrete, gravel, sand or mulch. The scent of the track is between 3 hours and 5 hours old. The dog must find 4 articles (one leather, one plastic, one metal and one fabric). The track must include at least 4 turns with one turn being a 90 degree turn on an area devoid of vegetation for 30 yards on either side of the turn.

The track is laid utilizing buildings and the diverse scenting conditions created by being in close proximity to such buildings. Tracks can also include other structures such as fences, breezeways, ramps, stairs, bridges, roofed parking garages and courtyards. 

The intent of the Variable Surface Tracking stresses that dogs will be able to handle the diffusion of scent created by these structures. Many VST tests are held on college campuses.

A dog that earns all three tracking titles - TD, TDX and VST will become a Champion Tracker and can use the letters CT preceding the name of the dog.


TrackingDue to their background as hunting dogs, expected to find game through their sense of smell, Cockers are naturals at the sport of tracking. In tracking, a dog must follow the path walked by the tracklayer anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours before, depending on the level of the track. There are 3 titles offered by AKC, in increasing order of difficulty.

  • Tracking Dog – TD
  • Tracking Dog Excellent – TDX
  • Variable Surface Tracking – VST

The length of the tracks, type of cover, obstacles and age are different for each level and a dog, which earns all 3 titles, has the right to have CT (Champion Tracker) placed before its name.

PDF fileA Beginner's Guide to Tracking is available on the AKC website.

Recommended Reading:

Tracking Book Tracking Dog, Theory & Methods. (2nd edition). Glen R. Johnson.
Published by Arner Publications, Rome, NY, c1977. ISBN 0-914124-04-8

This book is the standard for anyone interested in training dogs to track. Included in the book is the Tracking Trainers Handbook, a great reference for working in the field. Glen R. Johnson brought his many years of experience and innovation to write was has become the "bible" of trackers everywhere. His experience ranged from military dog work, to detection of toxic pipeline leaks using dogs.

Tracking Book Tracking From the Ground Up. Sandy Ganz & Susan Boyd.
Published by Show-Me Publications, St. Louis, MO, c1992.

The all-inclusive tracking program from the most elementary T.D. lessons through Sandy and Sue's highly acclaimed T.D.X. methods. Based on the authors' 40 years of combined experience as handlers and instructors. This book, a first of its kind, includes step-by-step instruction in track laying, puppy training, alternative training methods, and test preparation. The proven 8-week tracking program is easy to read and practical. Motivational techniques, problem solving, and proper handling, are stressed from the first day of tracking through single-flag starts, multiple articles, cross-tracks, and obstacles.

Tracking Book Practical Tracking for Practically Anyone. Julie Hogan & Donna Thompson,
Published by George Morgan, Charlotte, NC, c1995.

This how-to manual for trackers includes certification, what to expect at a test, scent theory, variable surface tracking, and sources of equipment. Not much on VST, but gives an idea of what it's about. "What to expect at the test" is great. Avoid those "first test" jitters.

(Shirley Hunsaker contributed Material for this page.)

IMPORTANT MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION REGARDING PROPOSED STANDARD REVISIONS: The ASC Board of Directors has decided that the best ways to provide information and conduct the discussion about the proposed Breed Standard Revisions are to 1) put all of the comments from the Breed Standard Survey on the ASC Website under the Member Zone; and 2) conduct all discussions and debate about the proposed revisions on the ASC Yahoo List. Accordingly, ASC members will have to log in to the Member Zone to review the comments from the survey and will need to be signed up for the ASC Yahoo List. Also, ASC members can make their comments known to the AKC Board of Directors during the 60-day comment period. These comments will be provided to ASC.


The Breed Survey comments are now on the Member Zone for ASC members’ review. The comments are under the Board Minutes section.


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News on the Cataract Research Project - Updated 12/31/2016



This is a quote I love with regard to volunteering - “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

Needless to say in an all-volunteer organization like the American Spaniel Club and the American Spaniel Club Foundation, volunteers make a vital difference because neither organization would exist without dedicated volunteers. Simply stated -- volunteers are essential for the health and well-being of both Clubs and ultimately our beloved flushing spaniels.

Studies show that there are six main reasons people volunteer: to make a difference in others’ lives; to support an organization or cause; to learn something new; to develop personally or professionally; to feel better about themselves; and to meet people. In other words, volunteering is personal. Advertisements that simply state an organization needs volunteers are not generally successful and I know ASC and ASCF have both found that to be true. However, just think if you could make a difference, support a cause you love (cocker spaniels and the other flushing breeds), feel good in accomplishing an important goal, and meet other people who also love spaniels, wouldn’t you want to volunteer?

As the ASC Board announced at the National Specialty in July, ASC has embarked on a strategic plan to make ASC stronger and more relevant in today’s world of pure bred dogs. There are many areas in which ASC needs help – ASC communications, including a new breed magazine, social media, the new website, breeders education, judges education and public education; membership development and events; marketing; branding; national conformation and performance events; and field events. To accomplish this strategic plan a wide variety of volunteers are needed.

I know ASC has an amazingly talented membership with diverse experiences and expertise that can help ASC accomplish its strategic goals. Accordingly, ASC would like to be sure its knows about your expertise and interests. In ASC’s Annual Mailing, which everyone should have received by now, and on the ASC website and by survey monkey, there is a Volunteer Interest Form. PLEASE fill out the form and return it to either Dee Torgerson Rismyhr or Laurie Foley. From the Annual Mailing, Laurie has already received a number of completed forms. Thank you to those members for your immediate response, but we need a response from everyone!

To give one's time and talent for a good cause is a special feeling. And to see what a group like ASC’s membership can accomplish will be amazing. WON’T YOU HELP? WON”T YOU VOLUNTEER?

I am always open to hearing your thoughts, so email me anytime at lmoore@estesokon.com

January 2016 - UPDATED NEWS ON Cocker Spaniel Cataract Research 

View Dr. Aguirre's Presentation on Cataracts & His Research Project

ASC and ASCF Join forces to Fund Cocker Spaniel Cataract Research !!

Click HERE to Make a tax-deductible donation NOW to the genetic cataract research project - Please Support our Cockers!!