For many years, some dedicated tracking enthusiasts talked about forming a tracking club, but it was mid 1995 before they ‘bit the bullet’ and decided to approach the Canine Association of Western Australia (CAWA), formally advising them of their intentions and asking them to consider granting us affiliation.
The first official meeting of the ‘steering committee’ was held at the CAWA headquarters at Gosnells on 13 September 1995 when it was decided on the Name of the Club, the club colours and all the positions on the committee were filled. The first Annual General Meeting was held on 12 October 1995 and the Chairperson was Ivy Cardwell.
Hence TrackWest was born! Our first President and Head Trainer was Garner Roberts and his partner Chris Smith was our first Secretary.
At this stage we thought we could possibly have hordes of trackers joining our ranks, therefore we thought it prudent to also ask CAWA to consider running a Tracking Judges course so we would be prepared for the possible onslaught on our resources.
CAWA wished us success, and permitted a Trainee Judges Course to be run. As a result, 2 Tracking Judges qualified, Frank DeCatania and Garner Roberts and a year later we became officially affiliated with CAWA.
The hordes of hopeful trackers turned out to be about a dozen people. However, since TrackWest came into being, we have had well over 200 members, the membership gradually increasing over the years.
For many years, Honey Gross-Richardson within the German Shepherd Dog Association (GSDA) had been conducting tracking classes, but this fact was not generally known by a lot of Obedience people. The GSDA also conducted Tracking Trials, the numbers were not high as tracking was such a new sport in Western Australia and was only conducted when a dog was ready for its test.
During the early years of TrackWest, it was an ANKC requirement for people wishing to gain their Australian Obedience Champion title, to have the dog qualify not only for its Utility Dog title, but also included was the TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) title and TrackWest was able to assist these people with tracking training.
Some of these Obedience people having gained their Tracking titles moved on from tracking, and their knowledge and experience was lost to the club and the new members.
Fortunately not all was lost, as some became addicted, developed a love of tracking, staying within the club and joining the committee, became a trainer, or started again with a second dog.
When the Obedience rules changed and Tracking was no longer part of the Obedience Champion title, it was thought the club would suffer and our membership would drop away. This was proven to be incorrect and our numbers actually increased and we now have about 60 active dogs working each season.
The CAWA have since conducted further Judges courses and several Tracking judges joined our ranks.
As we became more well known, many dog owners looking for something away from straight Obedience training, or those looking for something a little different for their dogs to try, looked to us in the hope we could provide them with an alternative activity.
Tracking has become a very popular sport and now with the inclusion of Track & Search Dog Trials, it is hoped that more people will enjoy this popular sport, training with TrackWest.