My pick for Book of the Month for the month of September is "mastering Variable Surface Tracking" by Ed Presnall. I realize that this is really putting the cart before the horse, but it was so fun to read and gives me something to look forward to a ways down the road.
I love how this book is written! It starts off with a description of what the VST test is and what you and your dog need to be ready for in order to take the test. There's also some description on scent and how it sort of varies depending on the surface that you're on, what's around you, the time of day, the weather, and the age of the track. Once the basics are out of the way, the author gets into the meat of how to break the training down into smaller portions and how to test for them.
The component part is probably my favorite (in addition to various real life examples that are given throughout). Pretty much every single type of situation that you could come across on test day is gone over. You start simple with just an ordinary vegetated to non-vegetated surface transition. A variety of transition examples are given and suggestions on how to handle.
Once the transitions portion is covered, then the topic of starting comes up. It may seem simple, but you need to be prepared to start in a variety of areas under a variety of circumstances. Starting is also useful for when you will need to restart along the track for any reason.
After starting is covered, turns are discussed. Again, it may seem like a simple thing, but when you've got a turn along a building, hedge, or right after transitioning, it can get tricky. A variety of examples are again given with suggestions on how to handle them.
From there it's a lot of examples of the variety of "obstacles" that you can come across on the track and how to train for it. While I'm obviously very new to this, it really seems like pretty much every possible situation is covered.
What I really like is that it gives me ideas on what to try out with the dogs when we hopefully get to that point. As with agility, I get to a point where I have a difficult time coming up with stuff on my own. This book is chock full of ideas! I also really like that the components are broken down into shorter length tracks. Doing multiple long tracks is a little daunting to think about now, especially just starting out. Having guidelines for shorter tracks that are still effective is really helpful.
My overall opinion is that I like this book a lot and will refer to it in the future!